Sunday, January 29, 2012

Seishun 18 Kippu Pt. 1: Adventure! 青春18切符

I renamed this post "Seishun 18 Kippu Pt. 1: Adventure! 青春18切符" to match the real topic. The second post in this series is here.

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1. Shibushi Station
Two observations:
1- Adventure is fun.
2- Japan is a great place for adventures.

For me adventure involves traveling. Be it exploring the hills around my childhood home, driving through northern Nevada at 4AM in a snow storm, or, as my current geographical location provides, an extremely long train journey. Keeping a somewhat childish sense of adventure keeps me sane. It's that adventure that I use to keep me going through the sometimes trying job of being an adult.

Japan is a great place for adventures for a few reasons. First off its foreign. No matter how long I live here and how at home I feel, there's always something or someplace to explore even in my own neighborhood. Of course, I can do this in the USA, but being in a foreign land adds a bit more excitement. An added layer of challenge and complication thanks to culture and language. I'm saying this even though I feel that my understanding of both the Japanese culture and language is advanced to a degree. You cannot just by living here claim "Japan Expert" status. It has to be gained by the through study and the recommendations of your peers.

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2. Nihonheso Koen
The compactness of Japan also lends it's self adventure. One can cover a great amount of territory in a small period of time. It is quite easy to get a glimpse of a neighborhood or city and decide what areas are worth exploring and which ones aren't. There are lots of things to find too. Odd shopping streets, seemingly unused, yet modestly maintained, temples and shrines dot the landscape hidden in miniature forest, old neighborhoods surrounded by new highrise apartment buildings, the neon glow of the quasi-legal gambling parlors and the quasi-legal brothels, the noisy bar and restaurant streets, small pedestrian only paths swaying between houses and rice fields.

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3. Nima Sand Museum
The greatest benefactor to the adventurer is Japan's immense public transportation systems. From pedestrian walkways to trains and buses It's easy to get from one place to another.  One of my favorite things to do is choose two stations route a walk between them through unknown territory. Another is searching for local sentos which I have developed an entire website around. The greatest assistance can be found in special discount tickets such as the Kansai Thru Pass and the Seishun 18 Kippu.

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4. Amarube
The Kansai Thru Pass is good for a majority the private, non-JR, railways in the Kansai area including some buses. It's sold year round to tourists on temporary visitor visas and a few times a year to the general public. The Seishun 18 Kippu is much more advantageous however. It gives you free passage on any normal JR train that doesn't need a second express or seat fare for any 5 days during a predetermined month and a half period in the winter, spring and summer.

The other great benefit of this ticket is that you can get on and off anytime you want with no worry about cost. See a station you like, get off. Just be sure you know when the next train is coming cause it might not be for a few hours. But that's part of the fun isn't it.

Miki Dentesu Trip
5. Miki Railway
The basic details for the ticket can be found on many sites in English and Japanese. Japan Guide has one of the best. Wikipedia is good also. If you can read Japanese or get by with Rikaichan this site is also very informative.

What I want to do while is give you some of my hints about using the ticket while walking through my overnight circle trip to ride the Oito line from the Japan Sea coast in Niigata to Matsumoto, Nagano. And I'll begin that in Part 2.

Photo notes
1. A globe monument found in front of Shibushi station in Kagoshima pref.
2. A trip to Nihonheso Koen, or Japan's Bellybutton Park in Nishiwaki, Hyogo to find the geographic center of Japan on my GPS.
3. The world's largest sandglass is in a museum a short walk through a very rural neighborhood. Found in Nima, Shimane.
4. I stumbled on the beautiful Amarube bridge almost by mistake on a Seishun 18 Kippu trip to Tottori. Less than a year after taking this photo the bridge was demolished.
6. Sinclair Station - Kanab, Utah
5. Like the Amarube bridge, the Miki Railway is no longer with us. Traveling by train has a sense of shared experience for young and old that is part of the adventure.
6. Before coming to Japan my adventuring companion, and means was my 4x4 Dodge Dakota pickup outfitted with a futon in the rear, camping supplies, water and extra gasoline.


angryparsnip said...

I am so excited to be "on" this trip with you.
I know that you posts some photos of your trips but am so looking forward to settling in and reading about this trip.

Love all the information !

cheers, parsnip

Anonymous said...


Yes, Oito line in winter season is very gooooood! especialy in between itoigawa and minami-otari, JR west region.

Have a nice trip and beautiful snowscape.