Back in November 2015, I had a 4 day business trip to Tokyo, Japan. It was a fully sponsored trip by the Japanese government as they wanted to showcase their latest shinkansen (high speed train) to my organisation. The organiser is the International High Speed Rail Association (IHRA), representing the rail industry of Japan.
Monday, 23 Nov 2015
We departed from Kuala Lumpur at 10:30AM and arrived in Tokyo Narita Airport at 6:30PM local time.
For this trip, we stayed at the prestigious Imperial Hotel of Tokyo. The hotel lived up to its grand expectation. The facilities were superb, the staff were extremely polite, the epitome of Japanese hospitality.
I was given a deluxe room. The interior decoration wasn’t very modern but it is full with elegance and style.
Tuesday, 24 Nov 2015
Our day started early. At 7AM, we had a briefing of the new shinkansen that we’ll be visiting, the Hokuriku Shinkansen. From the hotel, we went to Tokyo Station to board the shinkansen.
We took the E6 series shinkansen to Kanazawa (photo above). The E6 series has been in operation since 2010. The 490KM journey to Kanazawa took about 2 hours 50 minutes.
Kanazawa is a city to the north-west of Tokyo. The main agenda of the day is to visit the new shinkansen depot at Hakusan.
At the Kanazawa station, we were received by the station master. He briefed us of the station, and of its unique features. Turns out, Kanazawa station is considered one of the most beautifully designed stations in Japan.
From Kanazawa station, we visited the Ishikawa Prefectural Office for the bosses to pay a courtesy visit to the governor. The working level staff went to the top floor of the governor’s office for a nice view the city.
From the governor’s office, we had lunch at a French restaurant at Hirosaka Ryokuchi Park. It has a nice view of the park which is nearby to the recently restored Kanazawa castle.
After lunch, we headed to the Hakusan depot, located just outside of Kanazawa city.
The depot houses the new W7 Series Shinkansen that was launched in March 2015. The W7 shinkansen is the main train that serves the Hokuriku Shinkansen line (between Tokyo and Kanazawa). Boasting speeds up to 275kmph, it is the most modern and stylish Shinkansen in Japan.
After the tour around the depot, we were taken for dinner at Benkay, a japanese restaurant at Hotel Nikko in Kanazawa.
Wednesday, 25 Nov 2015
Today we had full day meetings and briefings at the hotel on high speed rail matters.
In the evening, we had a plenary meeting at the hotel. After the plenary meeting, we went to IHRA’s official dinner at Shangri-La hotel.
At the official IHRA dinner, we were introduced to various key players in the train industry. As not all of them speak English, we were given our own interpreter to escort us during the function. Interestingly enough, all of the interpreters (about 20 of them), are women. My interpreter told me that in Japan, the interpreter job is commonly associated as a women’s job.
Thursday, 26 Nov 2015
Today is our last day in Tokyo. Early in the morning we made an official courtesy call to the Director of Rail at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).
After our meeting at MLIT, I had some time to spare as my flight back to Kuala Lumpur was late in the evening. I took the time to visit certain places that I missed out back in my Oct 2014 trip. I went to the Meiji Shrine. Founded in 1920, the shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. What most foreign tourists didn’t know is that the emperor is not buried there. The emperor’s actual grave is located at Fushimi-momoyama south of Kyoto.
From Harajuku, I took the train to Akihabara. There were a few shops that I didn’t get to explore last year. Went to Yodobashi-Akiba, the famous electronics store in the area. It was truly massive.
From there, I walked to Mandarake, the biggest store for used anime/manga products.
In the evening, I headed back to the hotel to get my luggage. I stopped by Ginza and had coffee at Cafe Doutor near the Ginza crossing. It has a nice view of the intersection facing the Mitsukoshi mall.
I went to the airport slightly early. Returned the Pupuru mobile internet router that I rented by dropping it in a mailbox at the airport. Bought some souvenirs and had a light meal before departing. My flight back to Kuala Lumpur was at 10:55PM.