I was feeling a bit too proud of myself for just a bit after I saved us from boarding a slower shinkansen service from the JR Tokyo station to JR Nagoya Station via the Tokaido-Sanyo line, just in the nick of time.
With our JR Pass, we couldn’t take the Nozomi, the fastest bullet train available, but we could take either the Hikari High Speed Train or Kodama Shinkansen service. We were queuing for the next Kodama train and were almost about to board it, when I realised something just wasn’t right. Something just didn’t quite tally with our itinerary, I pulled up Hyperdia and realised that we were at the wrong platform. The Kodama train we were queueing for would stop at every single station along the way and get us there much later, to the extent we’d miss our next railway train ride from Nagoya to Gero.
By the way guys, an unsponsored commercial break because this shit is important. Hyperdia? Bookmark it. It’s your best friend while navigating the rather complicated shinkansen, subway and train services of Japan. At the very least, it’ll save you some energy of climbing up and down arduous staircases in the event you get to the wrong platform.
We immediately took off, looking for our Nagoya-bound Hikari service and found it within a couple of minutes after navigating down stairs (so stressful when you’re with luggage and you see the brisk, clockwork precision the Tokyoites rush up and down them, sometimes staring at you for being too slow) and up escalators. Crisis averted! we managed to board the train with minutes to spare before it departed. But like they say, pride comes before fall, and you can probably anticipate what comes next.
On the Hida Limited Express at Nagoya Station
Enroute to Gero via railway service from Nagoya (it’s on the Hida Limited Express if you’re wondering), I was jolted awake by The F Man an hour before we were due to arrive. A just awakened Carrie is possibly the least alert and dazed person you’ll ever meet. I spotted the words Gifu and without paying too much attention, I panicked and rushed the both of us off the train.
As we stood at the platform amazed that we were early (and not yet realising that while Gero is in the Gifu region, it is NOT the stop we should we getting off at), I exclaimed, “Oh my God! We made it and early too! It’s the first time we’ve been on time or early on this trip! High five!”
The resounding smack of our palms in our victorious premature celebratory high five did nothing to knock me to my senses. Both of us happily grinned away and we discussed how we had time to kill before our pick up to our accommodation. Perhaps we could grab a bite here?
Before it dawned upon me that we were at the wrong stop
Just soon as we took a couple of photos and was about to head off the platform, The F Man asked, “So, the pick up will come to get us from the station to our ryokan right?”
It was that instant that the dawn of realisation hit me hard in the face.
The pick up was from Gero Station.
Looks like the jokes on us!
In disbelief, I checked Hyperdia immediately for the next available train.
No. Freaking. Way.
There was only one train and it was due to arrive only at 3.08pm (yes, very precise). That was over an hour and a half away and the train would only reach Gero station at 4.25pm.
The problem solving process was pretty much like this.
F: There must be another way.
Me: No. There is no other way.
Both of us stands in silence for a bit as I continue to stare at my phone in shock
F: Maybe we can find a different way to get there
Me: NO. NO. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY. Unless, we take a taxi which is bloody expensive! Let’s just go and have lunch and we’ll figure it out later.
F: Really no other train meh?
Me: Look, look at this (referring to Hyperdia). Gero is like this ulu place, there are no more trains there. Only this one at 3.08pm.
By this point, we were both looking at our phones and trying to figure things out (actually it was clear that an hour and a half wait was imminent) when this kind, sharp looking elderly gentleman from the station asked us how he could help in Japanese. We tried asking if we could take a bus or any alternative, but we were definitely lost in translation. We eventually kinda got the drift that it was a “Too bad folks, wait for the next train” situation. He was very sweet though. He even leaned towards the ground while pointing to some train boarding numbers there to explain we had to wait exactly at that spot. Went over to the train board and pointed out the 3.08pm train service while circling the train box we could board with our JR pass. What a darling! We always get lucky with the helpful uncles and aunties when we travel and become directional idiots.
We should have known really. I mean when it comes to timetables and trains, the Japanese has got it perfected. Would we really have been able to reach an hour earlier even?
The silver lining is that since we had time to spare, we ended up grabbing a bite at Yoshinoya. Freaking nothing like any Yoshinoya you’ve had before in Singapore, I swear. A total must eat and so affordable to boot!
This delicious beef bowl was like no other Yoshinoya beef bowl I’ve had in my entire life
Anyway, I’m now on the Hida train, enjoying the scenic view of the immense greenery of the Gifu region. It’s just lush greens, greens everywhere. So damn beautiful. Why am I even typing away anyway? I should be planting my nose onto the window right now.
Paris Baguette ain’t got anything on Japanese baked goods, yo! Anyway, photo of us munching.
Anyway, here’s my parting note: Use Hyperdia.