Hiroshima – Airport Transfer to town

Hiroshima Airport is a 45-minute to 1-hour bus ride to town. There is a Limousine Bus Service from the Airport to Hiroshima Shinkansen Station (45 min), Nakasuji station on the Astramline (40 min) or Hiroshima Bus Centre (50 min). If you want to  be at the town area, take to Hiroshima Bus Centre. The above website is one that even shows the map of the route, so if you are living in a hotel/hostel, check for the nearest stop.  

 

 

 

This bus is 1300yen (about S$20) for 1 way, and is slightly cheaper if you are going 2-way. The bright red pillar shown in the picture is the bus pillar for the one that goes to Nakasuji station and Hiroshima Bus Centre. Japanese are normally rather disciplined, and without a line drawn on the floor, will still queue up in a straight line after purchasing the bus ticket. Note: you have to purchase the ticket in the building before queuing or getting on. Upon getting on, the driver will collect your ticket from you. 

 

 

 

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Transport in Japan – Charge Cards

Different cities in Japan have different charge cards for their transport. The charge card can be used to buy things from convenience stores, buy food/drinks from fast food restaurants and vending machines, pay for lockers in the stations, and of course to pay for transportation. 

Osaka uses a charge card called ICOCA. Tokyo uses either PASMO or SUICA. They all effectively are the same except for the company in charge of it. For the whole of my Japan trip, beside using the Japan Rail Pass, I also used the ICOCA in Osaka and the SUICA in Tokyo.

Things to note about the cards is that most of them require 2000yen to purchase it at first. 500yen is the deposit for the card, and 1500yen is the original stored value. Then if you want the refund of the money, you need to pay a certain amount of handling fee to do that. Expiry date of the cards are 10 years from the last charge of funds. If you feel that in the next 10 years, you won't be going back to Japan, then definitely get your refund.

You can use the ticket machine at the stations to check on your transactions, and even print out a list of transactions from the machine. Can Singapore's MRT ticket machines do that?

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Transport in Japan – Japan Rail Pass

For tourists going to Japan, the Japan Rail (JR) Pass is really useful if you are going for 1, 2 or 3 weeks to Japan. It allows you to take all the JR lines (except the Nozumi and Mizuho trains) at no extra cost, other than what you pay for the pass. It is only valid for non-Japanese, and must be purchased from outside Japan.

I bought my JR Pass from Singapore, from Nippon Travel Agency in Singapore. I placed a booking at their website and they delivered the Exchange voucher within 3 days, using the Ta-q-bin delivery service (at no extra charge) that collects the money on delivery. I managed to get the Pass voucher at $435, which was the cheapest for Feb to April, and it was just nice that it was a few days before my trip to Japan. 

And to my astonishment, it came with so many gifts! There was an Osaka Guide, 5 Tokyo area maps, and also a piece of cloth, that I think is used to wrap bento boxes. All fitted into an envelope, and the girl who did the delivery (normally is a guy) said "such a thin envelope and it's so expensive" when I passed over the $435. 

When I reached Japan, I went to the nearest JR Station and switched the voucher for the Pass. Each pass has the date of expiry stamped on it and you can make reservations for the Shinkansen (bullet train) free-of-charge. You just showed it at the manned gate at each ticket entry area, together with the reserved Shinkansen ticket. 

 

This pass can be used for entry into local trains in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo (and likely other big cities as well). It is especially useful when you plan the location of your hotels/destinations to be on the JR Lines and can save money during the trip. Japan's train/subway travel expenses are really expensive, if you compare it to that of Singapore, but their trains are relatively on time, and rather frequent. Most of the time if there are disruptions in the train lines,  it is due to weather problems (like earthquakes, typhoons, snow, strong winds). As their train tracks have mostly 2 tracks, they are able to provide express trains for some longer journey trains. 

 

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Balloons…

Last week, I happen to see the Guinness World Records for the largest 3D balloon sculpture at Marina Square get started. I happened to go to the same place on Sunday, and managed to take some photos (with my handphone, so I am sorry for the poor quality of photos here). 

The crowds were allowed to walk in the space between the (sitting) robot's legs. That sounded a little … weird and indecent. 

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