Notwithstanding the reliable on-time performance of Japan's public transportation systems - especially Japan Railways - the Shinkansen between Atami and Shin-Yokohama was 5 minutes - FIVE MINUTES! - late arriving in Yokohama today.
Doesn't sound like much, but everybody gets so used to the accuracy that when you buy tickets, it's not at all unusual to have razor-thin connection times.
My trip to Narita Airport, for example, typically involves three separate trains- there are other options available, but this way is the fastest and most convenient: the local line up the coast from Ito to Atami, then the Shinkansen from Atami to Shinagawa, and finally the Narita Express from Shinagawa to Narita.
And today my train connection times were: 6 minutes at Atami, and 11 minutes at Shinagawa. But, there was some issue with the train ahead of us between Atami and Shinagawa, so we arrived at Shin-Yokohama, the last stop before my transfer at Shinagawa, 5 minutes late.
That cut my connection time down to 6 minutes - any closer than that and I would have had to hustle a bit.
But one of the reasons I change from the Shinkansen to the Narita Express at Shinagawa is the tracks are really close together - at Tokyo Station, it's a 10-minute cross-station, multilevel trip. Once I get off the Shinkansen, I only need to ride up one level on the escalator, pass through the ticket gate, and go another 30 meters before I reach the escalator that descends to the track for the Narita Express.
So - it wasn't a problem - but it did mean there was no chance for me to swing through Starbucks for a latté. I can find one at the airport.
It is a typical early Winter day in Japan - dry, sunny, and clear. The sun is shining, but days are short, and because we are on the eastern edge of our time zone, the sun goes down by 4:30 PM - so I will be flying in the dark to Hong Kong. And then flying through the night to Australia.
Narita Airport, from whence I am posting this, is moderately busy - I think I am a day or two ahead of the mad rush by many Japanese to get out of the country for a few days over the upcoming New Year holidays.
Next stop - Hong Kong.