The fastest and invariably most punctual connection is the Shinkansen high-speed train from Tokyo to Nagaoka in Niigata Prefecture, about 300 km northwest of Tokyo. But it was no longer possible to get a rental car with all-wheel drive in the Niigata area. And with the snow chaos which had prevailed there a year ago, I absolutely wanted a four-wheel drive vehicle. The only solution was to rent a car in Tokyo and drive up there. And since we had a rental car, there was nothing to stop us taking a little detour over Mount Fuji, because the weather is not always as good as it was this year. Driving on the left-hand side and the chaos on the streets of Tokyo were nothing compared to the demands set by the Japanese navigation system in the car. Fortunately, a nice, non-English speaking person from the rental car station was able to help me program the destinations. This took about as long as the trip itself, but it was helpful. I was just left with the occasional messages of the Japanese voice on the navigation system. Earthquake? Turn off? Roadworks? No idea! The toll fees are not to be sniffed at. By the time I left Tokyo, I had already paid around 20 €. But the weather was fantastic and Mount Fuji was always in view. It’s no use driving directly "up" the mountain if you want a good view of the mountain. It’s better to drive through the mountains opposite or along a lake. From there, the view to the volcanic cone of Fuji is really impressive.
Compared to German motorways, road traffic is practically non-existent. Disregarding any speed limits, it didn’t take me long to get to the north coast, where I was received by inclement storm weather. Several times during the journey the wind blew my car in directions I didn’t want to go in. In the prefecture of Niigata snow added to this. But at least you didn’t fall asleep at the wheel driving so slowly. I can’t help thinking that if they introduced a speed limit in Germany, there’d be a lot more accidents caused by people falling asleep at the wheel while driving slowly! In the afternoon I reached my destination near Nagaoka in one piece, with my navigation device now set to mute.
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