Tuesday June 26th 2018
After clearing immigration faster than expected we headed down to the bowels of Narita Airport Terminal 1. The train station entrance was directly outside where we exited customs, which was fantastic and meant we saved some time stumbling around. Once we got downstairs we had to line up at the JR Service Center to get our Rail Passes Exchanged. Because we were ahead of schedule it meant we had more time to do what we needed to do.
Tonight’s plan was to take the Narita Express to Tokyo Station, then a Hikari on the Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya and then a ride on the Aonami line for one stop to Sasashima Raibu. Long travel time of 3 different trains to get us the 200-300 miles down to Nagoya. This would seem really complicated, but it really isn’t. Two of the trains would be covered by our rail pass and the other one would cost us 200 Yen (roughly $2). Pretty decent prices to be honest. To add onto that because we were ahead of schedule we could spend a little more time in Tokyo Station and be less rushed.
While booking our tickets they told us we should be changing in Shinagawa, but to be honest, we know Tokyo station better. Our plan was to stop by somewhere in the Station, pick up an Ekiben and eat it on the train as we cruised to Nagoya.
We were able to get on the 4:19pm NEX to Tokyo station and that put us a good hour ahead of schedule. This wasn’t the first time we had taken this train so we knew what to expect. We chilled out on the train as it cruised out of Narita and headed towards Tokyo. The free wifi onboard helped and I spent the time getting my phone up and running. It was nice to finally be out of the plane, but we were both in good moods and not feeling tired.
As we arrived into Tokyo station we knew what now had to happen. We were in the middle of the afternoon commute, in one of the busiest train stations in the world. This was not going to be fun dragging some suitcases through. But hey, might as well. It was fine, it was a bit overwhelming but we did it. We both made our way up to the Shinkansen gates and then I went back to the Ekiben place to get some food. This was probably the dumbest idea ever because it was stupidly crowded and a little bit oppressive. But I made it out and my first purchase in Japan was for ekibens!
We headed up onto our platform, found our car location (handily printed all over the platform at your feet) and lined up to await the train to come in. There was Shinkansens all over the place both Tokaido and also run by JR East. When our Shinkansen showed up they had to clean it, so that took a little while but soon enough we were onboard and had to stash our suitcases behind the last row of seats.
The train pulled out of Tokyo station on time (as you would expect) and we picked up speed as we headed for a few stops in the Tokyo area before heading out into the country proper. Once we left Yokohama that was when you could feel the speed really increase. Sadly though our train was going to make plenty of stops. Had we rushed through Tokyo station we could have made the earlier train that made less stops and saved us plenty more time, but it was fine.
This portion of the journey was when we both started to struggle. Lordy was it tough staying awake. We found it rough to try and keep our eyes open probably for a good hour or so as we both were lulling ourselves to sleep. It wasn’t even 7pm in Japan and we were ready to be in bed. The ekibens were consumed onboard (I have no idea what mine was, but it was alright) and we both just watched the scenery change outside as the train sped past the cities.
As we pulled into Nagoya we both got ourselves ready for another slog through the station to find the right spot to head to the Aonami line to our hotel. The signage was good but we had to go a roundabout way (at least it felt that way) to wind through the station to another part of the station. We dropped some cash for our IC cards and as we rolled to the platform the train started making noises that it was going to depart. We made it with seconds to spare.
One stop on the train line, dragging suitcases through a very deserted station and we were a minutes walk from our hotel for our stay in Nagoya.