Shibata, Niigata, Japan – Day 3(a)

Toki
Toki is the skinkansen operating between Tokyo and Niigata on the Joetsu Shinkansen Line. It takes about 2 hours to travel to the city in the North-west of Japan.

breakfast
Since the shinkansen departed at 634am (yes, right on the dot). Managed to grab some simple breakfast at the station before departure.

hot green tea bottle
In Japan, you can have your choice of hot or cold drinks easily in the convenience stores. Like the usual attentiveness down to the smallest details for the Japanese. Apparently the hot drinks are of a different bottle cap color. However due to the earthquake, there was a lack of orange bottle caps due to the damage to the factories. Hence all bottle caps are now white and differentiated with this orange sticker. I had never noticed the different color caps all these while and seriously, I would thought that it would be more economical to provide all the drinks to the same color coding and only stuck the orange sticker only needed. Sometimes, I felt the earthquake had some different changes to the lives of the Japanese, for example from the way of how they were conserving energy during summer. Due to the earthquake, the adjustments made to their lives could actually be a better one. I hence strongly believe, the country would recover from the massive damages due to the earthquake.

ramen
Very common at train station where you can have a quick bite before catching the train to your next destination.

niigata
Finally arriving in Niigata – famous for their rice and sashimi from the Sea of Japan.

steamtrain
The surprise agenda was a 50 minutes ride on the C57-180 series steam train usually making the trip from Niigata to Aizu-Wakamatsu along the Banetsu-East line. However, due to heavy rain, flooding, and landslides from a storm that ripped through the area at the end of July, part of the line has been washed away and is still undergoing repairs. While waiting for the restoration, the rail company made some changes to the routes and I was lucky enough to catch the special route for that holiday weekend.

steamtrain
Almost felt that I was transported back to the 1950’s riding on steam trains and the train driver was dressed in old school style shovelling coal

steamtrain
The interior of the train, seats with red felt cloth and the center of the train was retrofitted to be like a viewing gallery and the next carriage sold food and drinks.

steamtrain
It was really a different type of feeling to ride on the steam locomotive, I thought that the ride was more smooth but it was a tad more noisy compared to the usual trains. Top it with the vast padi fields along the way.

steamtrain
Choo Choo, here comes the train.

steamtrain
Initially, I thought what was the deal with all the people rushing out and waving when the train passed by and all the cameras out all the better locations like when the train was making a slight curve. After I knew that this was a special route that only plied for 2 days during the holidays for this particular area, that I realised what a special ride it was. ありがとうすしさん。。。 For anyone planning to go to Niigata, there are still some more routes planned for October. Refer to this link.


Here’s a video I found on youtube that should be filmed on the day I was riding it.

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