Public Transportation in Japan and Other Extreme Sports

by Colleen McCollum, Greenheart Travel High School Abroad Participant in Japan

Colorado is a rather open, spread out state. It also lacks the general concept of public transportation. There are buses, sure, but no trains.

My first train ride in Japan was with my area counselor, and I was absolutely confused. The process is something like this:

photo courtesy of lostinjapan blog

  • Buy a ticket. The price changes depending on the destination.
  • Use the ticket to enter the area that holds the platform. It’s important to remember to grab your ticket as you pass through the gate, as you’ll need it to leave the next station.
  • Find the correct platform. All the trains go in various directions.
  • When the train comes, the people getting off have right of way.
  • Squeeze in, find a handhold, and ride the train.
  • When it comes to your stop, stumble out into the masses of hurrying people. There are a lot of people in a rush, running hither and thither. It seems quite tiring. The people who have managed to pilfer a seat on the train are usually sleeping for the ride.
  • From there, exit the platform with the ticket.

I’m looking forward to getting a commuter’s pass, because it saves the time and effort of buying a ticket for every train. I switch trains once to get to school, and I have to get on a bus, which is another fare. I don’t want to keep anyone waiting, so I have to be efficient about paying the fare and getting on. That in turn makes me nervous, which makes me fumble, which makes me quite the loitering idiot. People behind me, apologies in advance. It’s my first public bus.

Once you get used to them (and lay your hands on one of those heavenly commuter passes), trains become very useful things. They go virtually anywhere, and anyone can ride them, from kids to teens to adults to clueless foreigners.
One of these days, I’ll magically transform into one of those fast and efficient Japanese people who ride the trains like it’s their second nature.

2 thoughts on "Public Transportation in Japan and Other Extreme Sports"

  1. Rosie Kroeker says:

    You are one brave girl. The trains sound intimidating but also like a grand adventure. I love reading about your escapades and can’t wait to find out what happens to you next. Good luck, you will be a local in no time.

  2. Sabrina Witt says:

    I’m sure you’ll have it all down in no time. When I was in Shikoku and lived in a small, very inaka, mountain town, I had to take two buses to get to a town big enough to have train service, and then after two hours of transferring I would finally arrive in the “city.” Life changed for the better when I got a car, though I would never want to drive if I was living in the city. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you adapt to a completely different life style! Can’t wait to hear about more of your adventures!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *