Transportation Field Note

Mon, 03/25/2013 – 1:00pm
Abstract: A short blurb about this article: 
In the Tokyo area of Japan people are always busy trying to get places in the fastest way possible. What is the best way to get around? What is the most common form of transportation? Find out here!

How do you get around? Do you use a train, a car, or a bus? Do you walk to school? There are many ways to get around and people are always trying to decide the best way to get to school or work. In the early morning here in Japan you can see people running to the station to catch the next train or squeezing into the crowd of people on the train so they can get to work as soon as possible. So what mode of transportation do they use more often and why?

How do people get around?: 

People mostly use trains and subways in Japan to get around. The JR train line is very convenient and easy to use. The signs have the names of the station and even a list of some of the stops for that train. The trains run every five minutes and you can catch the train as early as five in the morning and as late at twelve the next day. The subways run often too and you can easily transfer from a train to a subway in the same station. The train stations also have large malls attached to them. If you want to buy clothes, food, and kitchenware you can visit train station like Yokohama and Kamata.

Bicycles are also used a lot in Japan. It is common to see people using bikes to get around in their neighborhoods. However, bikes are not allowed on trains unlike the trains in Philadelphia. Therefore, if people need to get around their neighborhood they may use their bikes.

Walking is also one of the best ways to get around. In busy areas like Shibuya, everyone walks to get to around and shop at store like Forever 21, a clothing store, Tower Records, a music store, and Shibuya 109, a ten story clothing store. There are many small streets that are not accessible by car, so the best way to find these hidden treasures is to walk there!

Streets are also busy with cars. Cars in Japan are sometimes a lot smaller than cars in the United States. They have cars that are the same size as the cars in America as well. Cars in Japan have a built in GPS system which would be pretty cool for American cars to have. My host family use their car when they go somewhere far. If they are going somewhere close they either walk or use the train. My host mom also uses her bike to go to the park. They use what ever is the most convenient.

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

When I first started using the trains in Japan I was very nervous. Even in America I am always worried about catching my train because I have missed trains before and they do not come every five minutes in Philadelphia! I also thought that everything would be in Japanese which would be difficult for me. However, riding trains in Japan are actually very easy! They have announcers in Japanese and English. Also, there is a screen that shows what stop we are going to next, shows what stops there will be, and how long it takes to get there. They show it in Japanese and English. It makes it very easy for foreigners who speak English to use. After a while I became very comfortable riding the train. The ultimate test was riding the train all the way to Osaka. I rode the train, subway, and Shinkansen to get there! The Shinkansen is the “bullet train.” It is the fastest train and the best way to get across Japan to places that are far away. It takes about two hours to get to Osaka. I did get a little lost in the train station at one point but I found my way. When I get lost there is always a nice person there to help me find my way.

I have not used a bike here in Tokyo but I have in Osaka two years ago. It is just like riding a bike in the United States except the bikes have locks attached to them with keys that unlock them. I also parked my bike in one of the parking lots specifically for bikes.

I would say that walking around in Japan can be a lot of fun and adventurous. Many time when my friends and I are trying to find a specific place we find ourselves wandering around through all the small streets. Many small side streets in Japan do not have a name. In America, every street is named. In Center City, Philadelphia, I have seen what looked like an alley way that you cannot even drive your car through given a name. So, in Japan sometimes you cannot go by directions alone you have to use landmarks such as a convenience store, because they are everywhere. Also, when you walk on sidewalks in Japan you walk on the left side rather than the right.

When I first rode in a car I thought it was a little strange, because the steering wheel is on the opposite side! In Japan, they also drive on the opposite of the rode! I do not think I could ever drive in Japan. I would get confused. Other than everything being on the opposite side, everything else is the same.

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

I think the way people use transportation in Japan has to do with the environment. It is easier and faster to get to work using the train because there is no traffic. The trains are very efficient. It is easy to get around Tokyo and also transfer train if necessary. Therefore, many business men and women use the trains in the morning and it get very crowded!

I think in America as well many business men and women use the trains to get to the city. It is usually hard to find parking in the city, you usually have to pay for it, and there is tons of traffic.

I think people use bikes in Japan because it very easy to get around and ride through Japan’s narrow streets. People also use mopeds a lot.

In Japanese culture, a lot of attention in given to waste. People pay attention to what they throw away and try not to be wasteful. “Mottainai” can be translated as “what a waste.” An example of not being wasteful is the amount of recycling bins there are. They have them everywhere and follow the rules of recycling. At McDonalds there is no trashcan for wasted food. There is just a trashcan for burnable and non burnable products. I figured that this is because they expect that you finish your food. Even the proportions are smaller in Japan’s McDonalds. Therefore, I believe that Japanese people try to decide what the most efficient and less wasteful way to get around. I think that it why I do not see my host family use their car all the time. I really like how people pay attention to the environment here.


Shibuya Train Station

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