Early last week, I was finally added to the email list of MIT interns in Japan last summer, and so I sent out an introduction email. The first person to email me back was Ira Winder, inviting me to an MIT alumni-intern retreat in a rural town called Tane in the Shiga Prefecture. I had no idea what it would entail, but I said yes and went about looking into Shinkansen tickets.
On the trip down to Shiga last Friday, I wound up sitting next to four MIT alums (plus someone’s brother visiting from Spain), eating Shinkansen bento (ekiben), and talking in the fastest English (and Spanish) I’d spoken in a week! All quite the change from working with unpaid master’s students, homemade bento, and speaking English slowly, without adjectives or adverbs.
Travel by Shinkansen, while totemo takai
, is brilliant. Hop on in Tokyo and arrive in Mibara, 266 miles away, in only two hours and 16 minutes. (Google Maps
says the drive takes about five and a half hours.) Granted, this trip cost approximately 14,000円 for a reserved seat… not feasible in California, regardless of exchange rate. The Shinkansen is amazingly precise: trains can be spaced as little as three minutes apart.
We spent a lot of the trip along the coast, seeing islands and green hills. The views of the Enshu-nada, while generally obscured by power lines, were beautiful.
After transferring from the Shinkansen to a local train at Mibara, we arrived in Kawake on the shores of Lake Biwa.