Money talk

Feb 2, 2015

Japan trip - Day 1: Travelling north to Hakodate

19 January 2015

We flied Malaysia Airlines MH88 and arrived at Narita Airport (terminal two) at 7.15 am as scheduled.  Achik was fast asleep when we landed.  Everybody was in good mood, despite feeling sleepy.  Right after settling the immigration matters, which didn't take long at all, we went to collect our luggage and then headed straight to the Japan Rail Ticketing office, which was at one level below.  Few things started to seem familiar to me from Nagoya visit in 2009.
The first thing to do was to exchange our JR exchange order slips to JR passes.  The exchange order slips were purchased at the Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) in Amoda building, right next to the Imbi plaza and opposite Berjaya Times square, before the trip.  The queue at the Japan Rail Ticketing Office was quite long.  Everybody was using JR pass I guessed, as it could save a lot of money on train tickets, depending on your journey.
Exchanged.  JR passes for me, Abah, Along and Angah.
Achik travels for free as she was below 6 years old.
Our destination on that day was Hakodate, which is located in the Hokkaido prefecture of Japan.  Upon completing exchange process and obtaining our JR passes, we were given three tickets each for the following journeys:
  1. Narita Airport terminal 2 station to Tokyo station (approx. 1 hour via Narita Express train)
  2. Tokyo station to Shin Aomori station (approx. 1.5 hours via Shinkansen)
  3. Shin Aomori station to Hakodate station (approx. 2 hours via local train)
The whole journey, including transit time, took us about eight hours!  We departed from Narita Airport at 8.48 am and arrived Hakodate Station at 5.02 pm.  As the Hayabusa Shinkansen moved towards north from Tokyo to Shin Aomori, we started to see snow right before the Sendai station, which was to the kids delight :)

Amongst the first sights of snow, taken from the fast moving shinkansen
If asked, whether it is easy to get lost in catching the trains, finding the right platforms and et cetera, my answer would be yes.  Because we were not used to the train system, and we had the kids and luggage with us, and we had to catch the exact trains that were reserved for us, which departure times were printed on the tickets.  However, the stations staff were very helpful too.  But language was a barrier.  What we did whenever we were clueless was, showed one of the tickets to the staff and asked for platform number.  They would show the direction to the platform.  They at least knew the basic vocabulary such as one two three and left and right.  Good enough :D

During approx. 1 hour and 20 minutes transit at Shin Aomori station.
The snow was already thick there.
Kikonai, the stop just before Hakodate station.
This train didn't stop at all stations along the route.

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