Traffic / Transportation, Tokyo
I guess the first warning sign should have been the uniformed workers with the white gloves, not only are they there to keep order but on occasion their services are required to forcibly stuff more people into an already overflowing car. At 8:30am at the Ueno station, the lines were 50-60 people deep at each car. The trains arrive stuffed with people, a few get off, a few more shove in, about 10 trains later we were swept into the car and on our way. You do not need to hang onto anything, you couldn't fall over even if you wanted to.
It is not an experience I would want to repeat a 2nd time.
Are you thinking about renting a car in Japan? Are you going to be able to deal with driving where most of the world considers to be on the wrong side of the road? Do you hate being splashed by inconsiderate drivers during or after a rainstorm? In Tokyo, that last one can cost you about US$65 if you happen to be that inconsiderate driver.
Politeness rules the road in the Land of the Rising Sun. Even the cabbies in Tokyo wear pristine white gloves. So you can imagine what the Japanese think of drivers who splash through puddles and soak unsuspecting pedestrians. They call this infraction “muddy driving.” If you want to avoid a citation, be extra vigilant during and after rainstorms.
Penalty: If you drive through a mud puddle or otherwise splash a pedestrian, you’re liable to be hit with a fine of about $65.
Last trains can be quite early, around midnight. This means either getting a taxi back (expensive), or staying out until around 5am when the trains start again.
I have been caught once or twice by this when out imbibing.
No matter what, always plan never to use the public transport during rush hour.
You will really understand how do sardines in a can feel after this.
SOmehow it defies all logic and you find yourself contouring in funny positions in order for more people to board the train. Not forgetting the hassle of trying to get off the train!
The only good thing is that you will never fall over! There isn't any space to!
The Tokyo subway system is not particularly friendly to handicapped, parents with prams, and old folks.
Within each station, the only escalators you see are those leading upstairs. Wanna go downstairs? Gotta take use your 2 legs (and arms if you've got a toddler in a pram)!
My main gripe is that although the trains runs until midnight, all the escalators and lifts stop working by 9.30pm.
Japan is a very safe country - BUT the only thing that I would have to say about the safety issue is that women in skirts should be careful riding the subway!
In Tokyo especially, people are shoved onto the subways (literally) so that the doors can close with a disgusting number of people packed into each car. Since people are in such close proximity to each other it is a well-known fact that women should hold their skirts down so that the perverted men who lurk on the subways can't put their hands up a skirt or two.
I have seen this happen myself. It is nearly impossible to discover the culprit since there are 20 people around you who could have!
unless you enjoy crowds, stinky old men, sick people, claustrophobia and masochism, avoid the morning traffic at all cost. Tokyo is by far the worst, but some stations are particularly terrible like Kitasenju where it gets so crowded they have people dedicated to push people into the car every morning. Some of the inaka (country side) train stations are just as bad if not worse. In those areas, the train comes infrequently so the cars are jammed even when you thought it impossible for any additional people to be pushed in.
Also, if you insist on going in the morning, avoid bringing a heavy backpack. Or use the luggage racks to store your goods. You might offend someone if your backpack is sticking in their face.
The train lines in Tokyo are well-organised,, and you can get virtually anywhere by some sort of ground or subway transport.
The problem is that there are many ways to get to Rome, and if you catch the wrong train, you may still get to your end-destination, just that you end up travelling a much longer road or stop at many more stations in between. Remember that an Express line is one where it doesn't stop at all stations along the way, whereas local trains usually make stops at several minor places.
If you attempt to figure out your route only at the station itself, you'll most probably end up studying the "spaghetti" map to no avail. I recommend that you get a detailed map before you set out, and know where you need to make your connections before you even leave the hotel.
Ticket for day trip are divided into few type, basically it divided into JR, City Subway and Public Subway. All of them using different tickets and system, The service doesn't combine, so you must make sure that your destination and direction very clear then buy ticket. Otherwise you may end up with buying 3 to 4 types of tickets.
JP Pass for long distance basically is convenience, please do not forget to bring your passport a long for necessary verification.
In any situation, please try to avoid getting any transport to the Tokyo city on the peak office hours from 7-9am and 5-7pm. If lucky, you may only get stuck in the traffic an hour plus, else 2-3hours is usual happen. Taking the subway will be better but you will be stuck in the coach like a sardin.
Just a warning if you don't speak Japanease. Many of the cab drivers in the city will have trouble understanding where you want to go if you have broken Japanease. I tried to direct two different cab drivers to take me just a few blocks, but because I misspoke the words they could not understand what I was talking about. Also many rumour that the cabs are very expensive, enough I would believe it.
I couldn't believe how many times I saw the sign on the taxi door, "Be careful when opening the doors". But I fully understand why. Motorcycles and scooters whip in and out of traffic without a care in the world here, and it is not uncommon to find one trying to pass your taxi along the curb while you are trying to get out. I noticed this in Korea too.
Many taxi's have a door that opens for you, which is good, although you still need to keep an eye out. But if you happen to have a cab where you open the door, be prepared.
Twice in Tokyo I saw horrifying accidents where someone on a scooter ran into a door. In one of those, there was also a taxi passenger injured. I have been told that it isn't as common as it used to be. But it never hurts to be safe.
Other than the traffic, there are no dangers in Tokyo to speak of. You could leave your purse on a bar with thousands of yen in it, go visit the powder room and it would still be there when you returned!
If you streets in Tokyo.You might want to be careful because there's hardly any sidewalks and you might have to put your body against the wall to avoid being road kill.
If you are in a walkway in Tokyo going to point A to Point B.Beware!!!!Hundreds and hundreds of people will go by and you will feel like a fish trying to go upstream.