City skyscape photo that I took from Odaiba

Monday, January 14, 2008

Metro system

Tokyo's metro system is wonderful. It's a complex and well-designed train/subway network that results in insanely efficient transportation. And therefore, it's also quite crowded.

Luckily for me, I avoid any rush-hour traffic on my commute, as I live closer to the center of the city than where I work and my hours are a bit later than normal (afternoons and evenings), so I always have a seat for my 10 minute subway ride to and from work.

When I go into central Tokyo though, sometimes I do find myself on very crowded trains. It is interesting, because while people are very polite in Japan and there are still rules for how to line up, wait, and enter/exit the trains, some people become rather aggressive to get the empty seat or just get on the train. Granted though, it is out of necessity that we all push each other forward in a mini-stampede in order to guarantee those already inside make room for us.

Hypderia is a wonderful website I use to help me navigate from point A to point B:
Additionally, my cell phone (as well as everyone's mothers') can look up train routes. It can also show the "last train" schedule, so I know by when I need to be on board in order to not have to catch a taxi, walk, or stay out until the morning schedule starts.

I live 15 minutes away from Shinjuku Station, which is the busiest train station in the world. It is the first major station (and therefore transfer point for me) on my line. The station itself is also a odious maze that has left me running an untold number of times now trying to find my line before the last train or meeting point with friends. Therefore, in general, if I'm not hanging out in Shinjuku, I try to avoid transferring there when possible.

Overall, I love the metro system here. I can get almost anywhere I need to go in an efficient manner. Before I came here, I by far spent more time studying metro system maps than the Japanese language itself. It definitely did pay off in allowing me to get to places, fairly easily for a newcomer; albeit, I couldn't communicate with people or read signs upon arriving. ;)

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

I remember you studying the metro system. It seemed you focused on that more than any language or anything else. But I guess it helps more to know where you are and where you are going and to learn that ahead of time since you can't read the signs. I'm glad you've been able to navigate successfully. :-)