+travel++japan++fukushima prefecture++iwaki++december 28 2010

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KENICHI is a guru when it comes to budget travel in Japan; he was mentioned in the latest Tokyo Lonely Planet guide on account of the ryokan he runs in Asakusa. Unlike me, Kenichi knows how to make the most of a day. He asked me to meet him in the front wagon (carriage) of the train to Mito (capital of Ibaraki Ward) departing from platform 9, Ueno Station, at the ungodly time of 6.04am. Kenichi recommends crashing the front carriage because the seats are more comfortable there (the seats are perpendicular to the windows in little cubicles, so you can chill out with your homies.) As it turned out, I beat him to the train, even though he lives much closer to Ueno Station than me. There was frost on the grass and fog on the river banks as we sped north-east (east-north), through the early morning, crow-flapping sprawl. Over some bridge looking like the bridge out of the opening credits of One Tree Hill, and I knew we just had to be crossing the Tone River, which seperates Chiba and Ibaraki Prefectures. The sun came up, a warm glow in the chilly blue December sky. We arrived in Mito just in time for the morning rush. Streams of salarymen and office ladies (OL's) were on their way to work at the many Hitachi offices and plants which line the route to Iwaki. Kenichi told me that Hitachi has its origin in the area, and is a significant local employer. There are also nuclear power plants along the coast, one of which I photographed (second-bottom left photo). Not a tourist attraction perhaps, but kind of cool in an industrial way...


Tourism Information of Fukushima Prefecture