The standard bullet train is so long, at 16 carriages, that passengers have to be told precisely where to stand on the platform when the train arrives, otherwise there would be no chance of all the passengers embarking on time. Three or four of these monsters leave from Tokyo to Osaka every hour, always precisely on time, to the second. Japanese visitors to England are wide eyed in amazement at how backward our train system is, just as we are at how advanced theirs is. It’s a little depressing to think that they have had theirs for 25 years and it will be at least 25 years until we get ours (if at all). But the one way in which we are ahead of the Japanese is with our on-board catering. Japanese trains don’t have a buffet car, or anything except a basic table service, even in first class. Japanese passengers bring their own food with them, and in this respect they are very well catered for at the stations, especially with Bento boxes, their version of the lunch box, but a little bit superior.
This photo shows a pretty standard sushi Bento box which cost £8. I can’t identify everything there, but there is certainly salmon roe (ikura), fresh water eel (unagi), omelette (tamago-yaki), prawn (ebi) and sea bass (suzuki). Each morsel was on a bed of vinagered rice, in some cases with a pinch of japanese horseradish, known as wasabi. Of course it was accompanied by pickled ginger (gari) and soy sauce. Needless to say, it tasted just as good as it looked.