A week of mostly train travels in Japan had helped me (partly) understand Haruki Murakami’s fascination for Japanese trains and train stations.
They are efficient and reliable. It’s a breeze going from point A to point B to point C.
I got a 5-day Northern Kyushu Pass that allowed me unlimited use of the JR trains/lines. I had to carefully plan my itinerary for the week that I was in Japan so I could make the most of my pass. Here’s a quick run through of my trip:
Day 1: Fukuoka
Day 2: Fukuoka – Yufuin -Fukuoka
Day 3: Fukuoka – Nagasaki
Day 4: Nagasaki – Saga
Day 5: Saga
Day 6: Saga – Fukuoka
Day 7: Fukuoka
On my first day in Fukuoka, I had to exchange my JR Pass Voucher that I bought from KKday to the official JR Pass ticket. I also reserved my seats for the rest of my train travels in Kyushu since there are not many ticketing stations where you could do that.
Making sense of the massive Hakata Station was a bit confusing but there were a lot of signs so I was able to make my way to the ticketing area. There was a helpdesk where you could check out the routes and there was an employee who assisted the customers.
I had already planned my route but I still had to check the travel times and pick a schedule that worked with me. Most of my destinations were pretty popular/known so it was easy finding their schedules. However, the small town I was visiting in Saga was not quite known yet and so it was much harder to get that part of the planning done.
When one thinks of Japan, advanced and high-tech gadgets easily come to mind. Having visited Japan, I could attest to that. Trash bins had censors so you did not have to open the lids with your hand. Toilets had seat warmers. Trains were lightning fast. So you could imagine my surprise when the lady that was manning the helpdesk brought out this fat old school directory that had all the train schedules throughout Japan.
I was amazed by all the technology that I was able to witness in Japan but I was fascinated in a special way each time the lady manually flipped through the pages in a manner that seemed so professional. I could still hear the sound of the pages brushing against each other if I think about it hard enough.
Anyway, that assured me. For some reason, knowing that a country as advanced as Japan still used traditional materials to keep records of train schedules made me feel at ease.
It took some time before we finalized my itinerary but I was glad that everything came through.
Afterwards, I went to the ticketing area to get my train tickets for the next few days.