Riding the Japanese bullet train is a comfortable, convenient, and civilized experience.
From the platform attendants who announce the arrival of the trains - and watch over camera-wielding trainspotters who wander too close to the edge - to the conductors who bow as they enter and exit each car, it is a smooth ride.
The conductor pictured right took our tickets in seconds, apologizing first for the inconvenience, and then thanking us after completing the brief procedure.
She carried an electronic device that alerted her to which passengers had yet to show their tickets. Her uniform is perfectly pressed, her scarf pinned professionally. Not a single hair is out of place.
Just before the conductor passed through the car, the "beer and nuts lady" - a young woman with a cart full of coffee, snacks, sandwiches, and beer - made an appearance.
Calling out to the passengers in the car to announce her arrival, she wore a yellow uniform, and was equally well groomed.
Prior to boarding, we took a picture of the platform attendant. He was an officious and serious man, who wielded his red flag with great aplomb and verve.
His shoe shine would make a Marine sargeant proud.
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Monday, December 14, 2009