Hello everyone! Clement from Westcoast here.
I am back with another entry in my Top 5 Japan highlights series, and this article will be talking about the transit system （交通機関） in Tokyo and how it differs from Vancouver!
In Vancouver, Skytrain and city buses are equally used by commuters going from one place to another. The skytrain system has four lines running all through the Lower Mainland of Vancouver and some other cities, all owned by the same company. These lines are relatively easy to understand, and don’t really need a map as it is relatively to memorize them. In complete contrast, Tokyo’s train system is very efficient, but often with one station connecting four or five lines together, all going to different stations and owned by different lines!
As someone blind, it is very helpful for me to have signs in braille when I am in unfamiliar places. Fortunately, Japan has braille signs in many areas… but unfortunately, I cannot read Japanese braille! The maps were also overwhelming for many of my family members to look at, as there were so many lines going in so many different directions. But the system is most certainly convenient, and it was easy to go to all the locations we wanted. Stations were also much bigger than we expected, with all the stations having shops and even small restaurants or take out places to get fast food. There were also banks and ATM machines for exchanging money for people who are visiting Japan!
Buses, on the other hand, do not seem nearly as common place as they do at home. Although we saw some city buses, we did not ride one while we were in Japan. Our travel was mostly by train, or walking, and it was a new experience not to use any buses in a big city. It was also a surprise to find out that all the announcements were made in both Japanese and English on the trains. This made it much easier to figure out where we were!
Transportation in Vancouver and Japan are two very different systems. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, but it’s undeniable that both these systems serve their respective cities very well.