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Day 1 (or is it Day 2? Damn time change)- Trains.

August 8, 2011

The Tokyo Subway aka the ‘rapid transit system.’ As of 2008, 282 stations and 14 lines. It transports over 8 million passengers a day, and this doesn’t even include all the other private lines, JR commuter trains, etc.


Created with humble beginnings in 1927, it now stretches over 200 miles in the greater Tokyo area and beyond. So how does one navigate this plate off multi-colored spaghetti? Easier than it looks, actually.


Our hotel is situated on the ‘Keio New Line’ operated by the Keio Corporation. It’s only (2) stops away from Shinjuku Station, a major hub for Central/West Tokyo travel. Our station, the ‘Hatagaya Station’ has 4 exits. Shinjuku Station has over 200 exits and has over 3.7 million passengers travel through it daily! Suffice to say, the above is our station @-@


Humble and quiet beginnings to a trip that will get MUCH busier…


The Tokyo Transit system is…awesome on many levels. If a train is running 2 MINUTES behind schedule it will make an announcement apologizing PROFUSELY to it’s riders. On the platforms there are indicators on where the doors will be (as seen above) when the train arrives. When a train arrives, EVERYONE goes to the side and let’s everyone off the train before boarding. Very efficient.


Another example of where the train doors will line up. For shame, this time I think the train was off by about 4 inches. Tsk, Tsk.


One downside is the lack of benches. Kind of hard to tell but this bench has less then 6 inches of ‘fanny space.’ The bench in the background literally has 3 inches! Tokyo isn’t a bench-friendly place…


This train was shockingly empty. Hard to see, but all seats on trains are CUSHIONED! No hard plastic. Seems like it could get a little icky but all the trains were really clean so I guess no bed-bug problems in Tokyo?


All trains have ‘strap hangers’ for people to hold onto. I’m so used to holding onto the metal bars here in NYC—I tried these gymnastic rings but they were too small so I went for the gymnastic bar. Got a couple funny looks…


If your bags are too heavy or you’re sick of carrying your briefcase you can store it on a shelf above the seats. Would love to see how long this would last in NYC. Crime in Japan is EXTREMELY low, well below the U.S. National Average.


A lot of the ads on trains are in a ‘banner’ style, hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the train. This one is for ‘GREE’, some sort of phone-fighting-app that when phones that have the program are nearby their avatars ‘fight’ each other. This then illicits the open mouthed ‘ooooooh’ that the men in blue exhibit.


Heh. ToKoPo. Fun to say.


Auspicious…an ad for AKB48, the world’s largest pop group. (At least I ‘think’ it’s an ad for them…apparently I posted a picture earlier for cow’s tongue so anything’s a go…) There are 60 singers divided into 4 teams with varying number of members. The group was created so that the average ‘idol otaku’ could see and meet the performers. They are so popular that you can only get tickets through a lottery system.


The train started to get crowded very quickly…


Note the height difference of the photo taken…^-^


Officially smooshed.


Beware of closing doors or you’ll hurt ‘Hello Kitty’s’ finger :(


Before coming over I created a little production booklet that had a list of places I wanted to go, what line went there and what station to get off of. All stations have signs both in Japanese AND English and there’s an English announcer on the train so it was pretty straightforward once you were nearing your stop. You just have to make sure that your stop is either on a local or express stop and get on a train that says it’s going either local or express. Kinda’ messed up a couple times with that ^-^


During certain parts of the day (major commuting hours) certain sections of the train will ONLY admit women. This is due to some groping issues they’ve had in the past (this after I post that crime is low in Japan.) Of course the sign is in pink.


Hardly saw anyone over weight; hard to imagine as everyone uses the escalator’s ;) Like England everyone drives on the LEFT side so it works the same wasy with pedestrian traffic. If you want to stand and ride the escalator, you stand on the LEFT side allowing people to walk up and pass you on the right. A very efficient system that when adhered to works perfectly BUT if you walk on the other side or try to cross over it can be hazardous as most people don’t pay attention and you get SMACKED! But no raised tempers, just ‘sumimasen’s ^-^


Up we go into Shinjuku Station, busiest station in Tokyo.


Not too many photo’s because if you stand still you’ll be swept away!


A warning ad in the station: ‘Beware of purse-snatching phantoms riding Vespa’s.’ Didn’t realize this was such a problem in the Tokyo Subway Stations…


Note the white lines on the floor, indicating where you can queue up to get onto the train. I think this is Akihabara Station…post on that to come soon…


This happens to be an outdoor station on the JR line-Chuo line. This line runs right through the center of Tokyo and was one of the main lines we always took. Price of admission from Keio Private Line (2) stops to Shinjuki: 120 yen ($1.50). From Shinjuku to Akihabara Station (9 stops): 160 yen ($2.00) All one way. While I found the prices of most everything comparable to NYC, travel costs are HIGH.


In case you lose your Easter Bonnet, the train main will have a 6 ft. hook to help you out. Looks like it could be a cool APP game…


Got really excited that I would see a penguin going to work on the subway but ALAS, no penguins were to be found on the subway. This is actually the ‘mascot’ for ‘Suica’ which is a card you can charge for subway use. It uses a ‘tap’ feature instead of swiping a card, a process that I swore I took a photo of but cannot locate…hrmph…

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