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Rick and Maurice - First Day in Japan

October 20, 2014

Executive Director Rick Harnish and Board Member Maurice Ball are visting Japan this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of high-speed rail.

Today was our first full day in Japan.  We arrived pretty late to our hotel in Tokyo, Sunday night, after 11:30 PM, local time. After a 12 hour flight and a two our train shuttle and 25 min walk to our hotel, needless to say, we were exhausted. Can you say “24 hours with very little sleep”? After getting checked into our hotel and into our rooms, we succumbed to a deep sleep. This morning, we woke up refreshed and met for breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

After a delicious Japanese breakfast buffet, we were ready to start our first day in Japan. Today we were headed to Nagoya to tour the SCMaglev and Railway Park Museum ( We walked from our hotel to Shinbashi Station and boarded our first Shinkansen train. It was a super express train to Nagoya. It was an exhilarating ride though the countryside. We hit speeds of 170+ miles per hour. The train was moderately packed but got more full as we picked up passengers at stations approaching Nagoya.

Upon arrival to Nagoya, we boarded a local commuter train (sorta like the CTA line in Chicago) to the very last stop on the line, Kinjofuto, at the Port of Nagoya, which is where the Railway park Museum was located. There Rick and I got up close and personal with some of Japan’s mesmerizing train equipment, both from the historic past and the present. We also got an in-depth tour of how the Shinkansen line operates, viewing hands-on models and demonstrations of the train line’s operations and infrastructure. The tour also included up-close hands on demonstrations of the conceptual Maglev train and a detailed scale model layout mock up of Japan’s rail system, complete with operating scale model trains, traffic signals, and immaculately detailed countryside. Daylight and night time were even simulated for added effect.

After spending nearly 3 hours touring the museum, it was time to head back, whereby we repeated the above travel itinerary, only in reverse...just in time for Japan’s bustling rush hour crowd. People were everywhere, in suits and ties, and professional dress. Every station was madness with weary commuters looking to return home.

Trains were filled. Subways were jam packed. Upon arrival to our initial Shinbashi station, we enjoyed a leisurely walk through the Tokyo night life near the train station on our way back to the hotel. We were exhausted from our excursion but blown away at the energy that filled the night, trains rushing by behind us, bustling suits and dress meandering in the neon lit plaza in front of us. Local shops filled the night with sights and enticing smells competing for the attention of the crowds of bustling commuters strolling by. Rick and I took it all in. But, we were done. We were ready to rest up for tomorrow where another exhilarating adventure in Japan awaits us.