We started our summer vacation by visiting Kochi on the island of Shikoku, Japan. From San Diego, we took a commuter to LAX and then off to Narita Airport. Our flight to Japan was significantly cheaper than the flight we took to Honolulu last month, but the Northwest 747 was old – they still had ashtrays.
From the airport, we took the train into Tokyo for an overnight stay. As we arrived at Tokyo Station, which is undergoing renovation, we were greeted with clanking of steel beams overhead – I thought it was just construction work. It turned out there was a magnitude 6.5 earthquake in Shizuoka about 90 miles away.
As usual because of jet lag, we woke up early the next day and walked to the Tsukiji Fish Market not far from the hotel – not much else is open at 4 in the morning. It was raining heavily as Typhoon #9, a rare typhoon for this time of the year – being blamed on El Nino, was approaching and hitting Shikoku hard (14 deaths) – where we were heading.
As we walked to and from Tsukiji back to the hotel, it always amazes me how Tokyo, one of the world’s most populated cities, feels so safe and clean. Women are walking alone at 4 in the morning. Around Tsukiji, there many old houses that are about to demolished and make way for multi-story office buildings – sad to see these go, even though they may be old and ugly it adds character and disrupts the sea of office and apartment buildings.
From Tokyo we took the bullet train to Okayama. However, the express train we were going to take to Kochi was stopped due to the typhoon. So we took another train over the Seto Ohashi Bridge from the main island of Honshu to Shikoku. Then we took a couple of other “local” one car trains as far as we could get through the mountains and valleys of Shikoku and enjoyed the slow-life. This was only my second time to Shikoku – I had forgotten how mountainous it is.
The trains to Kochi started running later in the day and we made it to Kochi only a couple of hours later than we planned. The typhoon had passed and Kochi was bathed in sunshine and, brutally hot and humid.
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