Day 5: All about transit

Today our fearless travellers leave Nagoya and travel to Toyota where they will battle robots as they try to bring home the 2016 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid with Tech Package which hasn’t even been released yet (ok, they can dream). They will then travel through Aichi Prefecture and jump on their next cool transportation method – Maglev – on the Aichi Linimo. From there, subway and Shinkansen to the land of temples – Kyoto.

We actually brought home a Lexus LFA… Well a nice print of one…  They’re only $375,000.

Today’s transit brought to you by shuttle, commuter rail, feet, bus, mag lev, subway and Shinkansen.

We got up early, had breakfast and were soon on our way by train from Nagoya to Toyota – Both the city and the company.

Arriving in Toyota after taking two train lines, you notice something different about the place.  Being a transit geek – it was the fuel cell bus that was at the station. Cool!

The Toyota Kaikan is an educational centre aka marketing centre, next door to Toyota HQ.  This is where the tours of the manufacturing facilities start.

You see pretty much everything here, and you can sit in every car except for the Lexus LFA which happens to be in display.  Even the Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell car which is on sale in Japan!

Sadly, they don’t let you take cameras on the tour.  What stood out for me is how clean the facilities are, how fast it is for Toyota to assemble a car, and the fact that it’s 98% automated to make a car these days.  Even on a high end vehicle like a Lexus GS, which we saw being assembled.  2% is by hand.

After a lunch of Nagoya Tonkatsu (the local specialty is that the sauce is made from Miso), we headed back to Nagoya via the Linimo mag-lev line which was created for Expo 2005.  The line’s top speed is 100km/hr, so a much slower system than the one in Shanghai.  It’s not always about speed, and now we can say we’ve been on a mag-lev train!

One of the goals of our vacation was to go on different kinds of transportation.  Shinkansen is obvious because it’s how people get around Japan every day.  We actually considered going to Shanghai just to go on the mag-lev train, but ended up deciding on Hong Kong instead.  Since we were going to Nagoya, Linimo, I think, was a great choice.

Linimo is so smooth and quiet.  It’s quite something – and it was expensive to produce.  I can only imagine what the electricity bill is like.  The views are stunning, I will say that.  The most beautiful transit line in the world I’d say.

Back to the hotel to pick up our bags, we were off to get the 6:48pm Kodoma to Kyoto.  Not without an obligatory stop at Bic Camera to… get another bag as we’ve bought too much crap in Tokyo and Nagoya.  I am so glad of my baggage allowances with the status privileges I have on Air Canada and Star Alliance!

I swear, Bic Camera should be illegal!  That shop is brilliant!

Tomorrow we’re looking at Shrines in Kyoto.

A few things I’ve noticed along the way

  • How many times have I thought that transit in North America needs to step up it’s game?  A lot.
  • Service at hotels in Japan so far?  Amazing.  I’ve never ever been escorted to my room, ever!  I feel like I should have a whole entourage of people.
  • I still have not had Natto. 🙂
  • It is amazing how tightly packed Japanese houses are, next to each other.
  • Robots move so gracefully in the Toyota manufacturing facilities.  It’s amazing to watch.  I’m sure they do in other car manufacturer facilities too, but this is my only reference at this point.
  • I really would like a Toyota Crown in Pink or Blue.  Seriously, the pink looks amazing!
  • Need tissues?  You can get them free from people handing out advertising.  Where we would get post cards for a bar, dance event or something like that, on the streets, you get tissues here.
  • I think I said this yesterday, QR codes are everywhere.
  • Japanese commuter rail trains are comfortable.  They may look old, but they’re not, actually.  They happen to have a classical look outside, but inside they’re quite modern.
  • The Mirai gets 650km on a tank of hydrogen.  That’s pretty much the same as our Prius, so I think Toyota has a winner on their hands – if companies will setup Hydrogen filling stations.
  • I really hope the next-gen Prius that goes on sale next year has internal styling like the Mirai.


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