Traveling like a sardine – or a rocket
Japan’s public transport system is known to be among the best in the world.
Rush-hour traffic in the big cities can be crazy. Some metro stations are so busy that polite stewards with white gloves push guests into already over-crowded metro trains. A commuter may feel like a sardine, being pushed into a can, the only saving grace being that unlike the sardine, the traveller is allowed out of the can on arrival.
Navigating the metro system is easy, even for non Japanese speaking folks. The same can’t be said about the bus network.
Numerous routes connect far away suburbs. All announcements are made in Japanese, the signage is seldom stated in English. Without clear instructions of how to use it and at which station to get off one can get lost easily. This makes it even more important for tourists to stay in central areas where they can reach many places by foot or metro.
Japan is also famous for its bullet-train, the Shinkansen. The high-speed train connects the whole country and traveling from north to south quick, is efficient and cheap. It’s like climbing into a rocket and being shot to your next destination – just a lot more comfortable.
Of course you can fly between many cities, but Shinkansen stations are located in the city center, so you won’t have to spend extra time and money to get to the airport.
The only downfall is that it doesn’t offer a lot of luggage space on the train. Each cabin has 65 to 120 seats but only place for six large suitcases, which can be stored at the entrance. Some of the cabins don’t even have that space. All other luggage has to be put in overhead bins, which fits carry-on size suitcase only. Groups traveling through the country during Rugby World Cup have to be aware of this. The reason why there is so little luggage space on the Shinkansen is simple. Japanese only enjoy short holidays. For these short trips they travel with hand luggage only.
For visitors from abroad, it might therefore be more comfortable to hire a bus and take a flight, where luggage is not such an issue.
Part of the enjoyment of travelling, is to adopt the local ways and to experience the country in the way its people do. Whether you find yourself bobbing along the country side as a sardine, or the countryside is gliding past you at the speed of a rocket, you can rest assured that your journey will be more predictable when you have allowed us to assist you with the planning.