Sunday, September 17, 2006

In and around Tokyo

Tokyo above ground:

Traffic laws are obeyed; so wait patiently for your light (this also pertains to pedestrians and bicyclists).

Getting around Tokyo can be a little confusing at first for two reasons: 1)Tokyo streets were originally built in a zigzag fashion to discourage invaders (and confuse everyone else). 2) Buildings in Tokyo are numbered by the order in which they were built, they are not in numerical order. For example if you are looking for a building numbered 5109 on a particular street and you see 5110 don't be surprised if not only is 5109 nowhere around, but it turns out to be miles away. So if you are planning on going to a particular address give yourself plenty of time. Many times you won't even be able to find a street name, unless it's a main thoroughfare. I mostly traveled by foot (a.k.a. getting lost) and by subway (coincidently, also known as getting lost). I found it easier to use landmarks, for that very reason instead of an address as a guide even when directing a taxi driver on the one occasion that I took a cab. I left Tokyo with a deep admiration the dedication of their postal workers. Despite of or perhaps because of Tokyo's quirkiness I enjoyed myself immensely, wouldn't mind moving there and can't wait to return!

Tokyo underground:

The Tokyo subway system is a bit confusing at first, but makes perfect sense once you get used to it.

1) Bring your train maps...all of them...just in case. :-)

2) Bring a coin purse (gentlemen, this goes for you too) the smallest paper denomination is 1000 Yen, approximately $10.00 USD at this writing, so you're going to get change- a lot of change.

3) There are quite a few train lines in Tokyo, the main one being the JR line. You can easily transfer between the lines but there may be times when you must purchase a separate ticket for another leg of your journey.

4) There is an option for English on the upper right hand corner of the screen when purchasing your tickets. Look at the map for the stop you want to get off; the tickets are purchased according to price, which is based on the distance. So if you want to go to Kamakura for instance from Tokyo the price, 890 Yen is located directly above and below the station name on the overhead map, 890 is what you choose on the screen.

5) The option to purchase a round trip ticket isn't always available for every leg of your trip.

6) Don't forget your train ticket after you put it through the machine when entering the train station (you'll need to put it through again at your destination in order to get out of the station).

7) There is a queue for boarding the trains indicated by the markings on the floor.

I wish I had found this link while I was there. Check out their info on the Tokyo Metro Guide and the Transfer Guide as well as the General Tickets & Service Info.

8) Do not ignore the LCD displays above the platforms, turns out there kinda important (who knew!). Even though you may be on the correct platform the display will show what time the next train is arriving and most important--what train that is. I could regale you of the day in which I reenacted the blip in "Pong" going from the Ofuna station to the Odwara station over and over again, always in search of the elusive Kamakura station which I never reached that day because I kept getting on the wrong train although I was on the right platform (but we won't go there).


Anonymous Maggie M said...

Thanks for the links. I'm heading over there for the first time next month.

9:16 PM  

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