Shinkansen @ Nagano Station

For all winter sport enthusiasts, tomorrow is the day, isn’t it? As an ex-ice hockey player and skier – after all, I am from Nagano, I do look forward to the Sochi 2014 and do hope the event will finish without incident.

One of the most definite legacies of the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympic Game is undoubtedly the Nagano Shinkansen (長野新幹線) – bullet train / the Super Express Asama…


Despite the fact that the distance between Nagano City and Central Tokyo was only 230km, the city lacked high-speed rail link such as the Shinkansen, and a motorway was yet to be extended to the city at the time of the IOC’s host city selection for the 18th Winter Olympic Game. Therefore, solving the transport problem was an utmost imperative factor in order to invite the game successfully. As the result, the very first Nagano Shinkansen ran on its tracks which were raid over the existing route on the 1st October 1997. The journey time to Tokyo Station from Nagano station was shortened from 2 hours 45 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes…


This reduction of travelling time was welcomed by many as it made a journey to Tokyo much easier. However, the old Nagano station which was modelled after Zenkō-ji was replaced by a bland custard yellow clad monstrosity in order to accommodate high-powered trains such as the Shinkansen and the locals mourned the loss of well-loved character from the cityscape. I suppose the Shinkansen required a much higher calibre in accuracy and engineering, therefore, integrating the existing local terrain must have been too uneconomical. Still, I can’t see why the modernisation in Japan tends to choose the path of bulldozing predecessors rather than conserving them as pieces of history…

Mum & I boarded our train around midday. Ohhh, we must buy bento-boxes for lunch…


Next door to the bento stall was a kiosk, selling sweets, newspapers, magazines and souvenirs…


We grabbed the ones which were the most pricy, believing they would be the tastiest…


However, we were bitterly disappointed. The bento appeared to be packed well, but…


Most of the contents were just the epitome of culinary betrayal…


Two diamond-shaped brown stuff turned out to be pieces of extremely tough beef. In the left lower corner were two konjac slabs with miso paste. A pinky thing on the upper left was salmon & sliced onion, marinated in oil & vinegar. Next to the salmon was Kimpira Gobo – stir-fried burdock, tree branch-like vegetable, very common in Japan. And that yellow lumpy thing was frittered apricot! The rest of the spaces were occupied by cold taste-less rice balls. How could they charge ¥1500 for this miserable bento box? Mum & I pecked at them dejectedly while hen-pecking bitterly…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

11 thoughts on “Shinkansen @ Nagano Station

    • Hi Jackie! I am glad you like the train. The nose of the train always reminds me a Moomin!
      Oh, the Sochi Game, what a mess even before it starts! Gay issue, terrorist threat, corruptions, etc. The IOC must be crazy to grant the Game to the Russian. Let’s hope nothing horrible will happen during the game 😱

  1. Oh, I love eating a good ekiben on a train. So sorry to hear and see how terrible yours was, especially since it wasn’t cheap! I would never have guessed those two diamonds were beef, the color looks so strange. The gobo is the saddest looking of all, it looks so shriveled up.

    • Doesn’t it look bad? Not only looked bad but tasted awful too! You see, apart from soba & apple, Nagano is NOT for gourmet. My parents are originally from Tokyo and they always complained about the quality of cuisine in Nagano…😩

  2. Riding a bullet train is definitely on my bucket list! Really frustrating when you buy something expensive only for it to turn out to be a huge disappointment. Probably why they packed it well so a lot of people will buy it.

  3. Woah, the photos of the bullet train looks amazing :O the bento box is a shame 😦 I remember travelling on the Maglev in China, which I think travelled up to 200km per hour..

    • Thank you for the comment. The train looks good, doesn’t it? I like it too 😍 However, the bento was so disappointing and it dampened our mood very much. Was there any bento box in Chinese bullet train?

      • No they didn’t D: They didn’t really have stalls providing refreshment on the platform; rather outside near the ticket gates. The platform had red carpets though, which made the whole experience feel rather high class. I really enjoyed the fact that we were travelling super fast even though I couldn’t really enjoy the view which was completely blurred for most of the ride!

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