25th December 2012. Christmas Day.
Kanazawa to Osaka, Japan.
This is the name of a Limited Express Train that connects Kanazawa with the major cities of Kansai such as Osaka and Kyoto. It runs along the length of Lake Biwa’s western shores and near the coast along the Sea of Japan.
The entire ride to Osaka cost 6930 Yen from Kanazawa (Japan’s transportation is not cheap!) The Thunderbird or raicho (雷鳥) refers to the Lagopus Muta, the Rock Ptarmigan, a kind of bird that lives in the Mount Tate range and it is the prefectural bird of Toyama and Nagano and Gifu Prefectures.
While waiting for our train to Osaka, we spotted a beautiful train that is probably Japan’s equivalent to the Eastern & Oriental Express. It was the Twilight Express, a sleeper train that rides from Osaka to Sapporo in Hokkaido, making it the longest overnight train service in Japan.
On this ride I did something I always wanted to do, eating an ekiben on a high speed train. I grabbed the ekiben from the station. It was a meticulously arranged meal box that opens into 2 compartments, one containing rice, and the other containing a colourful and nicely presented sides to go with the rice. Taste-wise, there is much to be desired. But since it was a cold food so I sort of expected it.
Once again, we rode out of Kanazawa under heavy snow fall, along the way we saw fields of white and with very poor visibility. It looked like one of those minimalist paintings with a surreal feel to it.
As we rode further south, the snowy landscapes of Hokuriku gave way to the snow-dusted rural landscapes on its approach to Lake Biwa and finally riding past Kansai’s towns and cities with interludes of russet coloured fields with a light dust of snow and bistre coloured mountains with daubs of olive green and sepia.
Throughout our entire journey was a pair of brothers travelling with their mum, the two boys were a playful and adorable pair, reminded me of my nephew back in Singapore.