To save time, I went back to Kumamoto and north from there, rather than head over to the east coast of Kyushu and then north. I missed the first express train from Aso and the next one wouldn’t be for another 3 1/2 hours, so I took a local, which stopped at every station, parking lot, bike rack, and cow pasture on the way down the mountain. And all trains on this line have to stop twice to reverse direction. The edge of the caldera is so steep that they have to zig-zag.
I got to Kumamoto at noon, less than half an hour before catching the shinkansen to Shin-Osaka*, so no time for lunch. And I didn’t have breakfast, either. Just vending machine coffee, which is much better than you would expect. One brand is called “The Coffee.” It says:
“The Coffee” is authentic coffee with its special roasting and blending.
It’s ¥130 and comes in a metal bottle.
I missed the snack lady the first time she came by with the cart, and she didn’t come by again until after we’d left Shin-Yamaguchi. I got beef jerky, matcha ice cream, and Pocari Sweat ion water, whatever the hell that is. Cost almost ¥1000. Not much of a lunch, but it beats vending machine coffee.
From Kumamoto to Osaka is 790km (474 miles) and took 3 hours and 45 minutes on the shinkansen. That’s 126.4 mph, which isn’t as fast as I was expecting, but it does include stops.
There’s supposed to be a shinkansen from Osaka to Kyoto, but I couldn’t find it, so I took a regular express. The cities are practically right next to each other, so it was good enough.
It was clear and sunny in Kyushu. It’s raining in Kyoto. I may have to buy an umbrella.
* The shinkansen stations have “Shin” in front of them, to distinguish them from the regular stations with the older tracks. A few, like Kumamoto, are combined.