My train back to Kyoto would be leaving quite late and I had some time to kill after having done all my planned sightseeing. So, I just took a walk around Tokyo Station. The station lies very close to the Imperial Palace where Japan’s Emperor resides. The Palace is very boring, though, especially at night! Otherwise the area is very business heavy with lots of big banks having their headquarters here.
Only recently was the renovation of the station completed. When I first saw the station seven years ago, its inside was still in a sad state, but now its old glory has been restored.
I love trains, so I was understandably excited to finally be riding the Shinkansen again. When the train arrived I saw that it perfectly aligned its doors with the corresponding marks on the platform. Underneath those marks there were yellow lights blinking in a weird pattern which made me wonder if they played some role in an automatic alignment mechanism.
I found my spot on the train and once more marveled at the leg space. I could even stretch out my legs. This is amazing considering that I don’t fit into a regular bus seat at all. As soon as the train began moving, people began unpacking their Ekiben, special cold meals (Bento) that can only be bought at train stations (Eki). I got the feeling that eating Ekiben is an important part of traveling for people here as nearly everyone was tucking in. We were all having a huge picnic. Probably the leg space is necessary to have a place to temporarily store all that food. Another interesting aspect of the train layout is that all seats are facing in the forward direction. This is made possible by a mechanism that allows the seats to be rotated at the terminal station to face the other way.