Andrew’s world in Japan


Train yard panorama

Andrew Artist & researcher based in KL since 2009, passionately exploring the creative process & connecting with other creative people.


 Rail Rides, Nagoya to Shikoku -All aboard the JR Rail-

After spending several months covering thousands of miles sticking my thumb out and hitching my way across Japan’s ample lands, it’s time to return to the tried and true, trains. Of course there exists cheaper alternatives like the Meitetsu overnight bus or faster options like boarding a plane, but I get a kick out of riding trains. This time around,

Awaiting the confi rmation

Awaiting the confi rmation

the beginning is Nagoya. Last night was spent taking in the fresh night air and colorful lights of Nagoya port. A ferry boat ride to Shikoku would mark one of the modes of transport I’d like to use off the list, but not an option from here. So classic JR Rail it is.

“ If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction. “ – D. Bonhoeffer

Purple plush

Purple plush

I’ll admit to fi nding myself face to face with angry train attendants frustrated with my ineptitude on numerous occasions. Boarding trains isn’t like the airport, where the gate scans your ticket making well sure you are in the correct place. Often, a train may just leave without you. So at risk of missing the train, I’ve boarded plenty of wrong ones. Usually at least they’re going in the right direction and I can either just pay to upgrade, or jump off to catch the correct one at the next station. Fortunately, Nagoya’s station being a rather relaxed smaller set-up, I even had enough time to wander a bit and capture standard photos. Nothing particularly special stands out. My mind was playing with lines, shape and symmetry along with the shapes of railcars. I’d been hearing about the wonders of Shikoku, growing excited to visit a section of the country I’d never been before.

The well-worn pages of my guidebook deliver detailed facts. As a 1200 km loop circling the island, Shikoku is host to Japan’s most famous pilgrimage route. Estimates are that roughly 100,000 people make the pilgrimage yearly. You can purportedly spot them by their white jacket with ‘ Dōgyō Ninin ‘ or “ two traveling together.” Everyone is traveling with the spirit of the founder ‘ Kobo Daishi. ‘ While reading this, I sink off into the open landscape. What a different world it is when stepping away from cities. Rice fi elds, wheat fi elds, forests and patches of grass make up this rural landscape.

Skies are clear blue the whole way. A plush purple cushioned bench is my temporary nesting place. Following hyper speed time on shinkansens, this JR ling was a soothing breeze of cool air. Tingling in excitement from the mention of these 20 meter massive whirlpools in the Naruto Strait I poke around the train for vantage points and angles to capture photos from. All the hunting amounts to nothing more than just childish explorations. It’s a big ‘never mind’ as I come to fi nd out they’re not visible from this train route. Ah well, the main reason I was encouraged to come this far for the fi rst time was because my former high school classmate Damien and his family live on the island. The word is they live not but a 10 minutes hop, skip and jump from the ocean.

The train rocks on as I drift off into whirlpools of dreams.

Arrival at Shikoku coast

Arrival at Shikoku coast