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Diary Last Updated: Jun 16th, 2015 - 16:51:13


Stage 7 - Sunday 29 May 2008
By Dick and Pip Smith
May 29, 2008, 13:38

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Travelling on fantastic Japanese trains

We were interviewed by a leading Japanese Auto Camper magazine click here for the article about our adventure in the morning and then made sure all food was removed from the cupboards, and the soles of our walking shoes (that we were leaving in the Earthroamer) were clean - we know that the Australian Quarantine is very strict. We left the Earthroamer and Mark and Jimmy drove us into Nagoya city where they helped us purchase railway tickets to Kushimoto. We wanted to travel south east down to Kushimoto to try and find the fisherman’s wharf that Dick had been forced to land on in very bad weather in his Jetranger helicopter during his world solo flight in 1983.
Jimmy and Hiromi's magnificent home
We were interview by Japan's leading campervan magazine "Autocamper Magazine"
Dick and Pip posing for the camera inside our Earthroamer
We left the Earthraomer in Mark and Jimmy's care to be shipped to Australia
Looking at the hard working engine of the Earthroamer

We caught the immaculate, fast bullet train to Osaka on the JR Tokaido Line. Dick had his GPS and this told us we were traveling at 260kph. It was fantastic travelling by train mostly because there is no security checks, no bags searched, no shoes or belts to be removed – just walk onto the train and find your seat.
We caught a bullet train from Nagoya to Osaka
We were able to watch the train driver and the track ahead
We noticed that every driver confirmed the green light by waving their hand forward each time

The trains in Japan are kept beautifully clean with comfortable seats and clean windows. The trip took 50 minutes to Osaka. Here we changed to the local express train to Kushimoto on the JR Kisei Line and travelled for just over 3 hours, often beside the coast and through small villages, with citrus trees growing amongst the rice paddy fields and small houses. Dick was in seventh heaven because we were seated in the first carriage right behind the driver. There was a glass wall so we could see everything he did and also directly through the front windscreen of the train. There were three changes of driver during the trip. As we got closer to Kushimoto the weather became very windy and overcast.

Hot houses are used to grow flowers
Houses are built very close together in the cities, here in Kainan
We noticed that most of the rivers were flowing rapidly
Dick used his GPS to check on our location

Jimmy had printed out the name of our hotel in Japanese so we were able to show this to the taxi driver who spoke a little English as it turned out. He drove us the short distance up the hill to the impressive Royal Hotel as it started to rain. We were given a very nice room with a view over to Oshima Island. Very few staff spoke English but the hotel manager brought a musician, Norihiko Wakutani, over to our table while we were having dinner and he offered to assist us as he spoke very good English. We showed Norihiko the photo in Dick’s Solo Helicopter book of VH-DIK sitting on a fisherman’s wharf somewhere on Oshima Island in June 1983. He said he thought he knew which wharf it was and offered to come with us tomorrow to find it. He also assisted us to rent a car to use tomorrow. Our search had begun.
The view north from our hotel window of the Hashigui Rocks in Kushimoto
Looking across to Oshima Island

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