Quick Takes – July 6, 2018

Welcome to Quick Takes, our weekly digest of Japan travel news. I didn’t update last week as I was in Japan (more on that later). Now I am back with a great lineup to share with all of you!

  • JR Central, JR West and JR Kyushu had announced a unified on-carriage WiFi service called “Shinkansen Free WiFi”, which operation will start gradually from July 25th, with roll out complete by March 2020. This service will eventually cover all trains on Tokaido Shinkansen (from Tokyo to Shin Osaka), Sanyo Shinkansen (from Shin Osaka to Hakata) and Kyushu Shinkansen (from Hakata to Kagoshima-Chuo). For Tokaido Shinkansen, info for trains that had the service available are listed on JR Central’s website (available on the day of travel).
  • The annual Sumida River Fireworks Festival will be held on July 28th. Tokyo Metro had announced arrangement for Ginza line trains on the night of the festival. Extra trains will be dispatched to handle the surge of spectators, from 5 to 11 pm. Trains going towards Asakusa area will be running every two to three minutes starting from 3 to 7 pm, while trains leaving the Asakusa area will run every two to three minutes from 7 to 10 pm. In case the festival was delayed to July 29th due to bad weather, the arrangements will be delayed as well.
  • Most people would know that there’s a railway museum in Kyoto, which house a large volume of steam locomotives as well as some of the earliest Shinkansen trains. But there’s another railroad museum in Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture (just north of Tokyo). It was under renovation until this month, and had reopen this week (July 5th). Recently, the museum allowed Japanese journalists in for a sneak peak, and they found some interesting new exhibits. Among them, a mock up of a E5 Shinkansen train (replicated from a real train currently operating in the Tohoku Shinkansen), a recently retired and restored E1 Shinkansen train (the only double decker train in the JR high speed fleet), as well as a fully restored 400 series Shinkansen. The 400 series train had the interior open for visitors to experience, and these are among other trains and memorabilia available to visitors. If you are a fan of trains, this museum would be worth a visit.
  • Looking for hotels, of all places, in Asakusa? Especially during peak tourist season like New Year’s Eve? Now there’s a new selection. Hotel WBF Group, which operates a group of hotels around Japan and resorts in Okinawa, will open their first hotel in Tokyo. Located in Asakusa, right behind the world famous Senso-ji, it’s the latest addition of new lodging available in the area, and will open next week (July 10th). Lodgings in Asakusa are mostly business hotels and hostels, so a full service hotel should be a welcoming sign for folks that want to have convenient sightseeing and more comfortable lodging. (note: this is not an advertisement, and I do not speak for Hotel WBF Group.)

That’s it for this week. What do you think? Are you excited to see restored trains, or are you interested in the fireworks? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!