Alicia’s Journal #1

Taking the Train in Japan!



The way people get around in Japan is actually very different from how people get around in America! Did you know that the most popular mode of transportation is actually not by cars?



There are lots of different ways you can travel other than by car. Many people use bicycles or walk if they aren’t trying to go someplace far away. One of the best forms of transportation for longer distances is by train.


How do people get around?

There are many different options that people can choose from to get around. It depends on how fast and how far they want to go.

Some people use cars, but it can be expensive to pay for the car, gas, insurance, and the many tolls on the freeway. A lot of people choose to walk or use a bicycle to get to places nearby, like the grocery store.

If they need to travel further, they can use public transportation. There are regular busses that will make different stops around town. Night busses leave late at night and you ride them until morning. They are very cheap for traveling far, but it can be uncomfortable to sleep on!

One of the best ways to travel is by train. Japan has a wonderful train system. There are different kinds of trains, too! The local train stops at every station and is great if you are going somewhere nearby. The express trains will stop at main stations that many people use. Have you heard of bullet trains called Shinkansen? This train goes very far, very fast! The maximum speed is 200 miles an hour! But it is expensive to use. I think it would be fun to ride it someday.


How did I feel when I tried this way of getting around?

Before coming to Japan, I had never rode on a train before. I was really confused about how to use the train system at first. I was in a group of friends who knew how to use the train the first time I rode on it. They helped me learn how to use it.

First, I find out where I want to go. There is a diagram showing where I currently am and the names of all of the different stations I can go to and the cost to go there. Once I find out this cost, I buy a ticket for that amount at the ticket machine underneath the diagram. I take the ticket and go over to the gates of the station. The gates have a slot where I put the ticket. It slides through to the other side of the gate and it opens for me to walk through. I grab my ticket and then find the platform where the train arrives.

There are signs in both English and Japanese telling where the trains on each side are going and what time they will come. Once the train comes, I walk through the door and try to find a seat. If the seats are all taken, I stand on the train and hold onto the handles hanging down so that I don’t fall once the train starts moving.

There are announcements that say what each stop is in Japanese and English. Other than that, the train is very quiet. People usually don’t talk on the train and no one is allowed to talk on cellphones.  Some people will even sleep on the train.

When the stop comes that I want to get off on, I step out and I’m at my destination. I put the ticket through the gate, and it keeps it. When I want to go back through the gate to go home, I have to buy a new ticket.

Although I was very confused with how the train system works at first, I now feel very comfortable with it. The trains are very fast and easy to use. I think it’s a great way to travel in Japan, especially since I am not using a car or a bicycle.


Is this way of getting around connected to the culture and environment? How?

Japan is a small country. There isn’t much space for cars to get around. The streets are very narrow, so the cars used in Japan are small. Most stores and restaurants don’t have parking spots for their customers.

Japan also has a lot of people. Having good public transportation allows them all to travel without using cars. Imagine how slow traffic would be if they all drove cars!

People rely on trains to get them to different places. Many people ride trains to go to work. The trains are almost always on time to the very second. I think this all matches the fast-paced culture of Japan. Everyone is always busy doing something or going somewhere. I think that the train system is perfect for Japan.

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