Parcly: While warming up in the hotel I remembered seeing a six-car train, the Genbi Shinkansen (現美新幹線), parked on the opposite track as I stepped out of the (normal) train that brought me here. Its livery depicted fireworks; some of its cars had no windows, but all had fancy sofas and art installations, and a café took up half a car. It was called "the world's fastest art train".
So I showed up for it, Toki No. 456 to Echigo-Yuzawa departing at 16:42. The feel of this journey changed from one of pure motion to one of excitement and discovery, of hidden and unusual things. What would await me at the endpoint?
Spindle: Well, nothing much, but it was snowing! I couldn't resist looping and dancing in the winter night, contributing to the snowfall myself.
There is a nearby ski resort with special Shinkansen service, and many restaurants have racks to leave skis and snowboards on. In addition, because Niigata Prefecture is known for producing rice, it also produces sake and many such varieties are bottled and sold exclusively here – tasting stations allow you to mix and match varieties. It was getting very late by seasonal standards, so for dinner we had cold soba and tempura backed by black pepper duck and tamagoyaki (卵焼き), the last item being an omelette pressed into cuboids.
Parcly: What better way to digest that food than heading back to the inn? We took a double-decker Shinkansen (No. 342) back to Niigata departing at 19:01; the entrances to these "Max Toki" services are mid-level, between the seating decks. A tour of the shops accompanying the station churned the food in my belly, imparting warmth. During this tour I also visited a convenience store and restocked food, since I was in a new location.
Eventually, after moving cross-country over multiple trains and under hard weather, I kicked back in the inn's onsen, whose waters ate away the numbness in my hooves.