After long absence from blogging, somehow I want to write about train in Japan. Why? Because Japan has the best train system in the world. The train line in Tokyo is the most complicated in the world I think, but Japanese can manage it very well.
One thing I love about densha is it is my favourite transport for vacation, especially during holiday season. Most students know seishun 18 kippu (read seishun juuhachi kippu) that is sold only during school vacations. Several region also has its own version of 18 kippu, but my favourite was “Hokkaido and Higashinihon Pass”. It is the only pass that enables you visiting Hokkaido only in 10.000 yen for 5 days for transportation. Quite cheap compared to another type of transportation.
There are two kinds of train companies in Japan, private and public train companies. Public companies is run by the government, with the name of Japan Railways, or JR. JR has the widest coverage in Japan. It reach every city in Japan, eventhough the city’s population only 3000 people. It is the counterpart of PJKA in Indonesia, but the difference is like heaven and earth. JR is divided into JR Kyushu, JR Shikoku, JR West, JR Central, JR East, and JR Hokkaido.
The other is private train companies. There are several private companies. Each area has it’s own local company, for Kanto area, there are several companies, namely Keio, Odakyu (with its romance car to Hakone), Tokyu, Keisei (if you’ve been to Narita, you might use it), Tobu (for Nikko), etc. Since I’ve lived in Chofu for one years, Keio is very familiar for me. I’ve had to use Keio Lines to go from Chofu to Shinjuku (230 yen, 15 minutes by special express), and after that I can go wherever I like in Tokyo (especially in Yamanote Lines).
Talking about Keio Lines. I remember the first time I decided to go by myself in the first weekend in Japan. I woke up late, so I miss the appointment with my friends. Going to Chofu station, try to go to Shinjuku, but there is only kanji in the board, and I don’t know which kanji is for shinjuku, with only a little bit of Japanese. Check Mate…… First Lesson, always bring your Japanese Pocket Book with you.
There are several hierarky for train in Japan. The fastest one is Shinkansen (bullet train), after that is special express (tokyu), after that is express, and then rapid (kaisoku). The slowest among all is local train (kakueki teisha). There are three types of Shinkansen, the fastest one is Nozomi, and then Hikari, and the slowest one is Kodama. You can say that kodama is equal to local train in shinkansen class.
How to use the train? Simple, first, buy the ticket from the ticket machine. OK, some machine does not have english menu, but most machine has one. So don’t worry. Second, put the ticket in the entry gate, and keep the ticket until you go back. Third, find the correct line to go to your destination. Finding a train line is simple if you are in a small station, but if you’re in a very big station like shinjuku, you’ll get lost if you are a newbie. For information guys there are more than 30 lines in shinjuku, and most of train company has shinjuku as their main hub. The latest one is put your ticket in exit machine. This paragraph is really not important :p. It is better to find a brochure from JR or Keio or whatever, and there is a guide how to use train in Japan.
The one I like about station in Japan is there are facilities for the disabled people. They have a kind of elevators for wheelchair. Train officials will help the disable and make sure that he/she will get into the train safely. In the train also there are seat for disabled people (and also for old people, and pregnant woman).
This one is new for me. There is women’s car during rush hour in Japan. Women’s car IS ONLY for woman. It is usually in the latest car of train. The motive is to secure the woman inside one train where no pervert can do harm for them. Probably that is the main reason. Anyway it is good to protect these woman again pervert.
What are Japanese do inside train? Sleep of course. The amazing thing is they can wake up exactly just before their destination station. I’ve tried several times, and once I lost my ticket in my hand (I ws sleeping and didn’t notice that my ticket accidentally slip from my hand). The other one I miss one station. Those two things happened in one day.
One thing I want to buy for sure. JR Rail Pass. So I should come back to Japan with tourist visa.