7am, 20-jan-08. Aboard the shinkansen bullet train to Echgo-Yuzawa.
I’m bound for Kagura, a ski area about an hour and a half north of Tokyo. I had originally planned to go to the Yuzawa-GALA area, where the lift actually rises directly from the shinkansen station, but after reading a few articles it seemed that Kagura, a 20-minute bus ride from Echigo-Yuzawa station, would be larger and relatively less packed with Tokyo day-trippers on a Sunday in January.
And we’re off. The train is quiet, and unlike the regular trains I’ve been on in Japan has forward-facing seats. I’m in the ‘green card’ section, so there’s plenty of leg room, though the seats are pretty narrow. I’m glad I opted for the extra room!
The train is not full, so I’m not sure why the surly ticket agent put me in a middle seat (he refused to take my gredit card despite the sign which listed the cards accepted, crossing his arms and repeating flatly, “only cash!”). Ah well, I’ve moved to the aisle and we’re in a tunnel having left Ueno and the Tokyo metropolitan district.
So I’ve had my hot can of coffee (“Georgia kickoff”) from the kiosk, and the delightful aroma of my seatmate’s pungent fish/rice ball is filling the compartment.
Next stop, Echigo Yuzawa.