Saturday, June 18, 2011

Japanese train and train system

Other than walking and biking, train transportation is a major mode of transportation. Traveling to work via the train for 1-2 hours one-way is not unusual. Here are some things that I noticed:

  • Lining up- Each train car's door is clearly labeled at the train station. Thus, people know where to line up, and everyone lines up neatly, in order, and quietly. 
  • Cloth cushions- Japan's train seat cushions are cloth (not plastic or fake leather)- this shows Japan's overall respect for public property 
  • On time and frequent- Japan trains are known to be on time to the minute, and trains are frequent. If you happen to miss your train, chances are you won't wait long for the next train to come through
  • English translations- We used the English translations a lot when we were reading train routes. I always saw the English translations at the train stations and on the train. If I didn't know, or needed an answer right away, I'd just ask someone on the train for clarification, and they were always nice and helpful
  • Seats are narrow- I've sat on restaurant chairs in Japan which are narrower, but I won't lie- the seats in Japan are just... narrow. Luckily, the train cushions aren't separated into individual seats, but just an fyi
  • Be aware of the large gap between the train and the platform- As you enter or exit the train, there could be a large gap between the train and the platform. It is easy to catch a heel (or potentially your child's feet/leg), so please be mindful of this
  • Energy conservation efforts- Japan is on an all-time power saving mode. Thus, quite a few trains were pretty warm and when you include lots of people, it makes it even warmer. Having a handkerchief (there are plenty of stores that carry them in Japan- check out any department store) to dab your sweat is something I commonly saw (and would recommend)
  • Trains are quiet- What a difference this is than the NYC Metro or Chicago's CTA. I loved how peaceful and quiet it was inside the train. Most Japanese did 3 things while on the train: Check their cell phones (Facebook or text), read, or sleep. 
  • Safety- We were amazed at how young the children were riding the trains by themselves or in a small group of friends. My cousin Masato was riding the bus by himself starting at the age of 6 years old.  I, too, rode the train by myself when I was 7 years old from my grandparent's home to Shinjuku station (1.5 hours away). This speaks volumes of the safety people feel in Japan
  • Cleanliness- Train stations are very clean. No smushed cigarette butts, graffiti, trash, or smell of urine. Another form of respect for public property
We always saw a train conductor assistant on the train platforms to help with questions and alert when the train was approaching (during busy times only). When we didn't know which train to get on, they'd be very helpful and let me know which ones to hop on.
"For Women Only" train cars
During rush hour, several cars are designated "For Women Only". They are easy to recognize as there are usually signs hanging from the train station ceiling or the ground is painted to alert you. On non-rush hour times, any gender can ride these cars.

1 comment:

jacqui + erik said...

very nice post! i miss the train systems so much. everything in japan is so organized (even the escalators!) and i love all the little melodies the stations would play when a train was arriving, or getting ready to leave! :)