Day Fifteen – Matsumoto to Tokyo (Narita airport)

February 8, 2007

Up early and out of the Enjyoh Bekkan, thanking our host for a pleasant stay. He makes us think, with his excellent English and old world style, that he must be a lost prince of Japan, or the last of the samurai, living out the days in a sleepy motel in the hills. Breakfast in the station, then down and out of the mountains to Nagano on the Shinano train (9.05am). The Japanese alps seem to have layer upon layer of alternating ranges and plateaus: going down, as with coming up, each time you think you’ve reached the bottom, there turns out to be another descent and then another plateau, about three times over from Matsumoto.

Caught the Tokyo shinkansen (10am) and were thrilled once more by the speed of these trains. You can feel a soft tug of acceleration, and the land outside starts to whip past in a smooth flowing torrent. Once on the shinkansen, the green and pink apple orchards lining the track were replaced by concrete barriers on either side, forming a sort of train canal across Japan. We sailed on, whale song beneath us, through thick mist and clear, hot air at times, into the concrete and rectilinear landscape of Tokyo.

In the underground concourse of Tokyo station we bled our way, like two slow-spinning platelets in the blood stream, through the rushing vectors of rush hour people, and boarded the JR Narita Express (1.33pm), which for some unexplained reason arrives in two halves and connects at Tokyo station (probably something to do with service from each terminal, I expect). McDonald’s lunch at the airport – much higher quality than in the UK, including a prawn burger with actual whole prawns in it, and a chicken burger that was blatantly a single piece of chicken breast, with tasty sauces – and caught the Holiday Inn shuttle bus (3.36pm). Arrived at the hotel, after a detour to the other terminal, checked in, and finally dumped our backpacks in our room at 5.02pm.

We’re turning in relatively early, feeling tired and ready to go home (but in a good way). Need to be up at 6.30am to catch the 7.30am shuttle bus to catch the 10.50am flight to be home in London at 2.55pm the same day.

The end.

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Click here for a list of the day-by-day posts about our trip to Japan >>

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