If you remember, Nick and I traveled to Tokyo a few weeks ago for our winter vacation. We had a great time while we were there, but right now, I want to tell you about our experience with the trains. Having been to Taipei several times, we felt like we could confidently navigate the train system in Tokyo just like we do in Taipei, and then we looked at the train map.
At first we were taken aback, but then decided that we were confident enough in
our Nick’s navigating skills, that we could conquer it.
After arriving in Tokyo, we headed to the train station to start the journey to our hostel. With map in hand, we got on the train, only to find out that the particular train we got on did not announce stops in English! We freaked out for a moment, but then realized that we could look out of the windows and see which stop we were at, so that calmed us down. After riding for some time, we realized that the route the train was taking was different from what was on the map. None of the stations were the same, and
we I once again resorted to freak out mode. Nick, however, kept his cool and figured out what was going on. Soon enough he realized where we were and where the train was headed and successfully navigated us to the hostel with no more problems. To our relief, as soon as we got on the newer trains inside the city, English announcements were made on every train. After that, it was smooth sailing navigating the train system.
If you’ve never been to Tokyo, or a city with an expansive train system, you wouldn’t know how big the train stations are, but let me just tell you, most of them are the size of a large shopping mall, and a lot of them have a shopping mall inside of them, so you need to know your exits. Train stations can have anywhere from 2 exits to 5, 6, 7, (a million?). Thankfully, my master navigator thought of these tricky train traps ahead of time and planned ahead. He found a very helpful website that gave a layout of each train station and surrounding and area pointed out what exit to take to get to certain attractions. If you’re interested, you can view that website here. Needless to say, that saved us tons of time and prevented us from getting lost for days inside a train station. 😉
One more thing, as Americans we are used to personal space, but on the trains in Tokyo, personal space is not a commodity. There were so many people packed into some of those trains, that no one could move. It was very overwhelming to me, but the native people didn’t seem to mind if they were practically leaning up against a complete stranger. Some people would call this culture shock, but I prefer the term cultural experience. I enjoy getting to learn about how people from different countries around the world interact and live, and riding the trains in Tokyo added to my cultural experience.
Nick said that he read that out of a city of roughly 35 million people, 20 million of them use the train system everyday. That is a lot of people, and it makes me smile to think that for just a few days, there were 20,000,002 people riding those trains. 🙂