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bluejeans

Hello from Tasmania, Australia!

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Just got back from my second trip to Japan in six months, I was there for three weeks and probably used about $30,000 worth of trips with my JR pass!  I've always managed to satisfy my rail interest by going to a large city about 1000km away (Sydney, my city has no passenger rail :hmh: ) and I've been able to ride their network of intercity trains (4x 150km lines, 3hr travel time) for only $2.50 a day as they have a special ticket for people on welfare.  I got kind of bored with the system because it's pretty simplistic (but very scenic) and set my eyes on Japan.  I delayed it by several years because 1) I never thought I could afford it, 2) I have a police record for "borrowing" council/county boundary signs when I was 17 and 3) I've been on heavy-duty sleeping medication until recently, so much so that a doctor would never prescribe enough to take anywhere for weeks at a time.  Even now I had to apply for a narcotics certificate.

 

My first trip was October last year, with the whole police record thing I was shaking that much at immigration that it took four tries to read my fingerprints, once I was through with that I had customs very interested in me ticking yes for the drugs question.  When I gave them the narcotics certificate everything was fine.  Just like my first trip to sydney, I never ventured more than about 2 or 3 hours out of Tokyo.  I was only going to stay five days but the heat caused some sort of rash that made it painful to sit down, so I stayed a few more days as I simply wouldn't have been able to sit on a flight for 10 hours.

 

My second trip started at the end of April, I stayed at a guesthouse about 20 minutes west of Ikebukuro for only $U.S100 a week!   I wasn't afraid to miss the last train home this time, so I took advantage of capsule hotels, and went to Sapporo, Osaka, Kagoshima, Tottori (my favourite small city) and several other places not on the Shinkansen network.  I was going to travel on all shinkansen lines just to say I'd done it but by that time I was pretty sick of "Ladies and gentlemen, we will soon be making a brief stop in..." :P - btw the English announcer for the shinkansen is Australian.

 

The trip was a blast apart from not being able to get a window seat sometimes during golden week (I'd just sneak into the green car a couple of times).  I've always had rail questions about Japan but got kicked off of reddit for asking too many of them!  They have a Japanese rail sub but it only gets checked a couple of times a month.  I'm betting that you guys will be a lot more friendlier!

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Hi bluejeans, welcome to the forum. I didn't know that there is a section on that other forum :grin for Japanese trains, but for the topic I think you'll find that JNS Forum is the most active, knowledgeable, and friendly place online.

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Welcome to the forum. Yes, the English announcements on the Shinkansen are done by Donna Burke. She has her own website if anybody is interested in learning more about her.

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As you've discovered, travelling to and around Japan, especially from Australia, is a lot easier and cheaper than most people think.

 

I agree that it's good to get off the Shinkansen once in a while, I look at them more as a way of getting to the interesting stuff quicker.

Edited by westfalen
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