Mink Machine

Japan - In Shinkansen we trust

Across the country from west to east, visiting Shimonoseki, Hiroshima, Miyajima island, Osaka, Kyoto, Takayama and finally Tokyo.

  • Shoreline

    Arriving by ferry from South Korea to the west coast of Honshu, the 7th largest island in the world. After a month on the road we were a bit tired and I suspected we would get the same harsh treatment as Anjin in James Clavell's Shogun. 'Down the mudhole, you filthy gaijins!'

    Shimonoseki, west coast of Japan

  • The Gaijin

    Arriving by ferry from South Korea to the west coast of Honshu, the 7th largest island in the world. After a month on the road we were a bit tired and I suspected we would get the same harsh treatment as Anjin in James Clavell's Shogun. 'Down the mudhole, you filthy gaijins!'

    Reine arriving in Shimonoseki

  • Wakarimasen

    Clear as mud.

    Shimonoseki train station

  • Ride the bullet

    Time to board the Shinkansen, the high-speed train with speeds up to 300 km/h.

    Kokura train station

  • Epicenter

    The exhibition building with a beautiful green dome was completed in 1915. In 1945 the first nuclear bomb to be used against mankind detonated 580 meters above it. Most of the walls managed to withstand since the blast came from direcly above, but almost every other building in Hiroshima was erased. The building has been preserved in the same state as it was directly after the bomb. The shot was taken from Aioi bridge, the original target but the bomb drifted slightly off course by the wind.

    A-bomb Dome, Hiroshima

  • Remembrance

    This memorial cenotaph contains the names of all the people killed by the bomb. Through it the A-Bomb Dome and the Peace Flame can be seen in a straight line.

    Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima

  • Park of peace

    This area was once the busy downtown district of Hiroshima before the atomic bomb detonated.

    Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima

  • Master chef

    A sushi overdose is unavoidable during a visit to Japan. This guy prepared the finest sushi I've ever tasted.

    Eating at Sushi-tei, Hiroshima

  • Rawhide

    Is that a blowfish?

    Eating at Tsubohachi, Hiroshima

  • Time to go south

    I hope this is the right one. The signs don't really help that much.

    Taking the tram in Hiroshima

  • Passengers

    Unlike several other Asian countries, the Japanese are extremely polite and avoid staring at tall westerners.

    Tram line 2, Hiroshima

  • Are we there yet?

    Tram line 2, Hiroshima

  • Way of the exploding fist

    Miyajima has been worshipped as a divine island since ancient times. The shrine was built on the seashore where the tide ebbs and flows. First built in 593, then rebuilt in 1168.

    Miyajima island

  • Reach for the stars

    Toyokuni Shrine, Miyajima island

  • Nightfall

    We walked along the small alleys and sampled the local waffle cookies.

    Miyajima island

  • Following the rail

    Osaka train station

  • Crossroads

    Shinkansen is fast and highly efficient, but it can be a bit tricky to read the signs.

    Osaka train station

  • Hunting the replicants

    This futuristic building is Japan's second-largest train station (after Nagoya).

    Kyoto railway station

  • Easy living

    At a traditional ryokan you wear yukata robes and sleep on futons on the hard tatami mats. You also use slippers since shoes are not allowed, with a special set of slippers used for the bathroom. The only thing missing was a ninja outside the sliding doors.

    Staying at a ryokan in Kyoto

  • Strangers in the night

    The Gion entertainment district hides old traditions under a modern surface and the alleys are the best Geisha-spotting areas around.

    Pontocho, Kyoto

  • Waterfront

    Takano river in Gion, Kyoto

  • Hush

    Japanese public toilets have a control panel which controls various water jets, makes sounds and produces perfumed deodorizer puffs. Be careful.

    Gion, Kyoto

  • Silence is golden

    Noone will notice if I scratch off some of the gold.

    Rokuon-ji Temple in Kinkaku, Kyoto

  • Harmony

    The rock garden from the 15th century consists of 15 rocks, surrounded by low earthern walls. The very quintessence of Zen.

    Ryoanji temple in Kyoto

  • Shogun cribs

    The construction of the castle was completed in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the infamous founder of the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan for 300 years. In addition to beautiful gardens and a moat, it is equipped with 'nightingale floors' where the floorboards creak to warn of intruders. I tried my best to sneak in but the floor caught me everytime.

    Nijo castle in Kyoto

  • I can see my home from here

    It is possible to see all the way to Osaka on clear days.

    View from Kyoto tower

  • Old and new

    Ancient temples are respectfully blended into the modern architecture.

    View from Kyoto tower

  • Hands up

    This town is located in the Japanese alps. The high altitude and separation from other areas of Japan kept the area fairly isolated. The Kaji-bashi bridge across river Miyagawa has two funny statues, one with long arms and the other one with long legs. The statues are called Te-naga Ashi-naga, meaning just 'long arms, long feet', a bronze recreation of art by Yoroku Taniguchi from the Edo period.


  • Baristas

    Having a coffee. Life is good.


  • Coffee house

    The local espresso bar. Or something like that.


  • On the road

    The Nagoya train station is the largest in Japan.

    Nagoya train station

  • A day at the job

    This guy was taking his job extremely serious.

    Nagoya train station

  • Final destination

    Going by Shinkansen the last bit to Tokyo.

    Reine at Nagoya train station