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First Timer to Japan: Trains

When Billy and I created our itinerary for Japan, we thought that it may have been a bit ambitious. We planned to do a big loop in central Japan, spending extended time in 6 cities with a few stops in-between over the course of two and a half weeks.

This would have been break-neck speed in Europe. And I don’t know about you, but my least favourite thing about Europe is getting pushed around, bumped into, drawn into what seems like ‘playing chicken’, while walking around … ESPECIALLY IN TRAIN STATIONS.

“What would Japan be like?” I wondered. With such high population density, I had mentally prepared myself to shrink my ‘Canadian Walking Bubble.’ Please note, many Canadians are not exempt to insane walking etiquette. Walking considerately seems to be a dying art. BUT NOT IN JAPAN!

A street art piece of Astroboy by Invader.

Spotted! A street art piece of Astroboy by Invader. AHHH SO EXCITED!

The people of Japan are the most considerate walkers I’ve ever seen. I was not touched once while gallivanting around neither in the train stations nor the streets. After two weeks of zipping around Japan I was, in fact, feeling the most relaxed and zen than I had in several months ever.

For instance, when you walk on to a platform, you see Japanese people are in several orderly lines. These lines are indicated in the perfect spot because the train stops in the same place, every time. Once the train arrives, the doors open and the passengers leave in an orderly, calm fashion with space away from the line of passengers waiting to get on. Once the car is empty, the lines move one by one and load into their respective train car. So simple, so elegant, so kind, so classy.

Train seats that flip around automatically

This was the first train we rode into Tokyo. The seats flipped around automatically, so the next passengers wouldn’t be facing backwards for their journey. Considerate eh?

And the trains are very quiet and speedy. I love to people-watch on the train. Japanese passengers would be enjoying a simple sushi snack during the ride, playing a game on their phone, reading. It’s seeing the everyday actions of locals that really make me feel like I’m traveling and exploring new ways of living.

A man enjoying lunch on the train in Japan

A man enjoying lunch on the train in Japan

How to boss the train system

1.Have access to the internet on your phone. Google maps was our best friend in Japan. We picked up our pocket wifi right at the airport after we landed.

2. We bought the Japan Rail Pass and it was a dream.

3. Try all the Japanese train snacks!

4. Trust in the system: the times listed are accurate and reliable.

5. Do as the Japanese do and respect people’s space and comfort. Be considerate while walking :)

6. Know some Japanese phrases (and here are some other brilliant travel hacks)

At the time, I was intrigued by Romancecar. Is it a train dedicated to finding love on a train? No, turns out its a limited express luxury tourist service to mountain towns.

At the time, I was intrigued by Romancecar. Is it a train dedicated to finding love on a train? No, turns out its a limited express luxury tourist service to mountain towns.



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