Thursday, 26 October, 2017 20:04

Tokyo to Sendai – Memorable & Eventful

Japan – Here We Come ….   Our flight to Narita was uneventful, hopped on the Skyliner fast train to Ueno, a short walk in light rain and we were in our hotel.  Next morning up early and into Tokyo Station to organise our Japan Rail Passes.  The same girl booked all our planned rail journeys.  This country is unbelievably efficient.

Uenoonshi Park

Taking in the scenery at Uenoonshi Park


It was then back to Ueno, 10 minutes by rail from Tokyo Station.  We spent the day visiting the Uenoonshi Park, walked the Ameyoko Market and exploring Ueno. This is a great area of Tokyo and the market has some real bargains which we resisted, not wanting to lug them all over Japan.

Ameyoko Market

Ameyoko Market near Ueno Station

Off To Aomori …  Next day, up early to catch the bullet train (Shinkansen) for the 700 km, 3 1/2 hour journey to Aomori.  Hopped on a local bus and checked into our hotel.  We then walked the town to get our bearings and plan our next full day. Aomori is a modern town with wide streets and a number of tourist attractions. They even laid on entertainment for our arrival.  How thoughtful.

Sunday entertainment

Sunday entertainment for the locals and visitors

New friends

Liz makes some new friends

Just Amazing ….    Our first stop the next day was the Nebuta Museum. This museum features floats from the Nebuta Festival which is highlighted by a procession featuring 20 large floats, each measuring about 10 metres square and 5 metres high which are specifically made each year for the festival which takes place in early August.

Nebuta Museum

One of the spectacular floats at the Nebuta Museum

Nebuta Museum

Nebuta Museum

Another Museum – Different This Time ….   Our next stop was the Hakkoda-maru Seikan Ferry Memorial Ship.  This is a floating museum which highlights the history of the Seikan Ferry Company which commenced in 1908 and operated for 80 years. Many of the vessels were destroyed and sunk by enemy air raids during the second World War II.  The last ferry, shown below ceased operation in 1988 and was converted to a museum.

Hakkoda-maru Seikan Ferry Museum

Hakkoda-maru Seikan Ferry Museum

Ferry Museum

One of the dioramas in the Ferry Museum

Back In Time 4000 years ….  After the ferry museum it was out of town 7 km by bus to the Sannai-Maruyama historical site which dates back 4000 to 5500 years ago.  Archaeologists have been excavating this site for many years and have reconstructed many of the dwellings based on their findings.  There are a number of Pit Houses, Elevated Houses and Community Meeting places which have been reconstructed.


Sannai-Maruyama Historical Site

Pit House

Inspecting a Pit House. Floor is about 1.5 metres below ground level.

A Bit Of Culture ….  Our final stop for the day was just across the road at the Aomori Art Gallery.  This massive building holds the Aomori collection of local and international artists.

Aomori Art Gallery

Aomori Art Gallery

White Dog

Aomori Art Gallery – One of the exhibits.

Shirakami Resort Train …. This train leaves from Aomori and works it’s way to the west coast through farming and small communities until it reaches the coast.  It then travels along the coastline for around 50 km very close to the ocean.  This turned out to be an adventurous journey as Japan was hit by a typhoon which we ended up right on the edge of.  The sea was ferocious and people that disembarked from the train to take photos had their umbrellas blown inside out and came back onto the train soaking wet.  Hardy people these Japanese.


Train stop to take photos in the middle of a typhoon


We arrived in Akita around 2:00 PM and was kindly escorted to our hotel through a maze of shops and department stores by an elderly station attendant.  Could you imagine this happening in Melbourne. Not likely.


View from the Shinkansen on the way to Sendai

Back On The Shinkansen ….  We left early the next morning for the 2 1/2 hour bullet train journey to Sendai.   This turned out to be another highlight as the typhoon had passed and it was a mild and sunny day with almost no wind.  What a contrast to the day before.  The autumn colours of the trees, flowing rivers, small villages and acres of rice paddy fields made for an interesting journey.  We arrived in Sendai just after 9:30 AM, dropped of our suit cases at the hotel, a 2 minute walk from the station, and then spent an hour familiarizing ourselves with Sendai downtown area.


Tree lined boulevard in Sendai

A Harbour Cruise ….   It was then back on another train for 45 minutes to a town called Matsushima, a holiday resort style town.  On arrival we spent an enjoyable hour on a sightseeing cruise around the bay area which is really beautiful as it has dozens of small islands scattered through the bay each with a fascinating story.  These small islands helped break the full force of the tsunami back in 2011 so there was minimal damage to the town and the marine craft in the area. On our return to shore we walked the town then back on the train to Sendai.

Matsushima Bay

Islands in Matsushima Bay

Sendai ….  Aomori could well be described as a rural city but Sendai is a large beautiful metropolis. It has wide tree lined streets, an abundance of department stores and very long covered arcades.  It is certainly a city that we would look to come back to if we visit Japan again.

Ichibancho Arcade

Ichibancho Arcade in Sendai


Colourful restaurant in one of the back streets of Sendai.

And Now We Head South ….  After 6 days in the north of Honshu we head south to the island of Kyushu for 10 days.

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