Thursday, 22 March 2012

Seishun 18 rules for happy travel, a refresher course

The perspective on the way up
(when I took a later train than I had printed out.)

Rule number one of seishun 18 kippu travel is have a copy of the timetable that you've planned. There is a very good reason for this: trains are irregular.  You need to know which train to catch when there are various ways of getting to the same destination. Missing a train can be the difference between arriving today or arriving tomorrow. Furthermore the difference between catching a rapid and a local can be the difference between having a little time to buy something to eat and and not eating all day.  Rule number two is to have food to minimize the inconvenience of messing up rule one.  Three is having a mobile phone or JR timetable that enables one to scout alternative options.  .... Rule number 4 is having one's walled close to the top when one is changing trains so that one can buy emergency supplies - tissues, food, a drink in the time between trains rather than spending the precious minutes trying to find one's wallet in the bottom of one's bag.

If rule number one is observed other rules are redundant.

The perspective on the way back.

Rule number one ceases to apply where JR doesn't keep to the timetable....
Fortunately I had my mobile phone, a half used recharging battery and my wits about me as arrived in Sakata to a message that passengers for the Rikuu sai sen would transfer to a bus as the train wasn't running - no explanation.  It mean 40 min extra travelling time to Shinjo, thwarting my plan to go Shinjo-Nyuko Onsen- Kogota on the Rikuu tou line.... to have taken this would have mean an overnight stop and arriving the following morning....I ended up taking the Ou sen back to Fukushima, coming back the same way I went.  But I guess the whole point is that the tickets are cheap not convenient.

I am sending the remaining three days to the PIL for a day trip with their neighbour - all the trains there are local trains, so it works out well for them.

The obligatory JR timetable - I use a mobile
A street not far from Sakata

The bus replacing the Riku u sai line between Sakata and Shinjo



Rurousha said...

I Googled the places you mentioned, and thus read about the Mogami River, which inspired Basho to write a haiku, between Sakata and Shinjo. Why you no take a boat rather than a bus? :D

I've never used Seishun 18. It sounds like a great way to travel, although a bit tricky.

OK, what happened next? When do we get the next story? ^^

Cecilia said...

It's a very pretty area. Chokkai, Dewa Sanzan, Sakata is a really pretty little town. It used to be quite a bustling port city, but still looks spruced up. I'm not sure what the port was used for outbound besides timber, but I guess there was probably mining further up the river - though it doesn't have the recessed former mining town atmosphere there at all.

Jorudan has a designated setting in Japanese for seishun 18 - it is a bit tricky, but it's so great for seeing pretty countryside. My motivation is partly pure scabbiness - 2,300 yen from Tokyo to Odate! But unless someone like local trains, the savings wouldn't justify the trip.

My guess is that the dams along the river have seen the end of the river trips, though there are "pleasure trips" at various spots along the river.

Anonymous said...

You are making me nervous. Is it really so hard to use Japanese trains? Are there time tables in English? My cell has no internet so that won't work for me. How did you learn all these things... ? :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the questions- riding the trains is something I really want to do.

Cecilia said...

No, no it's not hard to use at all. You can use in english and uncheck the express trains and you get pretty much the same results. goes through google translate very well - it's just place names that need tranlslation really as times are written with regular numbers.

I learned quite a bit from a friend I met on the lonely planet thorn tree who is an expert at seishun 18, but it's not difficult. Going to Odate there are so many potential routes, and I like trying to take different routes for the different scenery - that's the only reason for it looking complicated.

The attraction with the seishun 18 tickets is that they are so cheap - instead of it costing 32,000 yen or so for a two way trip the seishun 18 is 2,300/day. I used 2 of the 5 days and have sent the remaining 5 days to PIL to take a day trip with their neighbour. Based on the trip they are planning it will be about 60,000 yen worth from a 11,500 yen ticket. If there are ticket shops near you, you can sell the unused parts, provided there is enough time left.

Cecilia said...

I am not so familiar with Kyushu, but can help with any general questions you have. The lonely planet thorn tree and the japan guide are quite good places for asking questions getting information.

Anonymous said...

Seishun 18 kippu, while intended for students, is a great way for retired senior citizens (like me) to travel in Japan. If you have all the time in the world, it can't be beat! Thanks for the article.