Tokyo Stories and Tips

Trains in Tokyo

The Ramen Machine! Photo, Tokyo, Japan

The trains can be a pretty overwhelming experience for those that don’t speak Japanese. Heck, it can be pretty tough for those that do. The stations are clean, modern. The trains are quiet and on time.

You can’t get anywhere in Tokyo without using the trains.

Tickets are sold by the distance you travel. Which is unfortunate, since when I was in Chile I could travel the entirety of Santiago’s metro for about thirty cents. In Japan the shortest distance, from one station to another, cost two or three dollars. Transportation really adds up in Japan.

But, I really liked the trains, which was fortunate, since they are essential for moving around Tokyo. They are, as noted, very quiet, both inside and outside, because nobody speaks on their cell phones. It is an unwritten cultural rule to not talk on your cell phone as you travel in the train, so what you get is a bunch of people texting. If you forget this rule you may get stern looks.

So the trains are quiet because cell phones aren’t used, Japanese people really are in general quiet people, the trains are modern, and notably, it’s just so easy to fall asleep riding the thing. The seats on the JR are heated, a nice touch considering that Japan can get fairly cold. The natural rhythm and beat produced by the train casts a spell over the weary traveler, especially the one who has spent the day on the go in benchless Tokyo. Be careful not to miss your stop. There are electronic displays located above the door that indicate the route, which door will open, upcoming stations, both in Japanese and English. If you aren’t by the display you can just listen to the station annoucements that even say the Japanese name with an English accent.

When you get off you may be hungry. If you are hungry for ramen, then keep your eyes open for the ramen machine, in which you place your ramen order not with a human, but by pressing the slot of a dispensing like machine. Ramen does not tumble out, but your order does go to the kitchen located behind the bot. I always wanted to click it.

Comfortable as the trains are, you'll probably need actual lodging. Check out other Japanese vacation rentals over here.

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