Shinkansen to Nagano
Tokyo Station. I am standing in line on the platform, eagerly awaiting the privilege to ride the Japanese bullet train, or “Shinkansen” as it’s called.
Suddenly, the loudspeakers broadcast a jingle with the aural appeal of a ringtone, while the words "Mamonaku, mamonaku" flood the platform, announcing the arrival of the train.
Leaning over, head craned, I anticipate my first glimpse of the Shinkansen as it pulls into the station. In an instant, the nose of the train flashes past, and I am simultaneously assaulted with the pressure of compressed air as the train whisks to the end of the platform and comes to a halt.
Inside the train, I marvel at the meticulously polished floors, so smooth that one could hold a game of hockey in the aisle. I find a seat, welcome to discover a surprising amount of leg room, even for a foreigner like me.
The doors close and the train picks up speed, accelerating with a whisper. Soon I am thrilled by the sight of buildings blurring together as we fly by at an alarming rate.
The train pauses briefly at the next station before once again accelerating effortlessly, regaining top speed.
Some time later, the train slows down for yet another stop. I rest my eyes and promise to wake up once the train starts moving again. I don't make it.