Tokyo Trains

The train system here is… amazing, intense, confusing, fast, efficient, convenient, complicated…

See, for example, downtown Tokyo:

Rainbow spaghetti!

…and you thought the addition of the silver line made the DC system complicated?

The stations are really clean, and well-signed, almost entirely in English as well as Japanese. We’re close to a bunch of different lines, so getting around the city from our place is really quite convenient. But Tokyo isn’t the kind of place where you necessarily automatically know where somebody lives when they say “Oh, I’m by the Gyotoku stop.” Usually they also give you the line they’re on (Tozai in this case), but in some cases they list lines that don’t really appear on this map. The stops are also all numbered, and the lines are color-coded which helps. And the trains are always on time — apparently they get in trouble if they’re not — and they’re very smooth, they don’t even make Jen motion-sick.

((Jen edit: for more on the on-time-imperative, check this out. My favorite from a clearly exasperated train operator during the recent typhoon: “This is a disaster so (the inconvenience) cannot be helped. After all, I can’t stop the wind.”))

There are also a couple of different owners of the lines, so sometimes you have to leave the system and then go back in a different exit to switch between them. Some of the stations appear to be connected on the map as well, but this is a little deceiving — the hallways between lines/stations are incredibly long sometimes, and they’re frequently lined with shops and restaurants. Which is fine, so long as you don’t mind taking a twenty minute stroll through a mall between train rides.

There is also an amazing train system throughout the rest of Japan, but we haven’t explored that yet, so we’ll have to report back later.

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One Response to Tokyo Trains

  1. Calley says:

    I’m so jealous of all those lines…. of course, I suppose given that Tokyo is a city of 27 million and DC is, what, 3 million? it makes sense that we would have 1/9 the number of lines. but still…

    And Jen, those quotes are *fabulous* 🙂 They should have just said, “hey, be happy the trains are running at all, some other world capitals we could name would have shut down this system long ago…” 😉

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