Thoughts on rail travel while in Japan

During my recent visit to Japan, we did a number of our excursions on rail travel. In Japan, rail travel is very popular. In fact, I rarely saw a private vehicle in Tokyo. Most of the vehicles on the road were taxis, busses, delivery or otherwise some sort of fleet commercial vehicle. We stayed near the Shinagawa station in South Tokyo.

The Japanese train station is the epitome of my tastes: convenient, timely, clean and full service. The Japanese train station is a hub of more than just transportation, but also full-service as well as quick-service restaurants and shopping. I found it incredibly cool.

On Tuesday, July 20, myself and the flock of bloggers entered into Shinagawa to head to our meetings in Odawara. Here is a photo of Shinagawa taken on Wednesday during our block of free time:

HPIM1529 During our morning entrance on Tuesday, we were literally walking in a mass army of people almost dressed in uniform going to work. For men, the dark pant with light-colored oxford shirt seemed almost too common. Occasionally someone would still wear their jacket (it was hot!) or have short sleeves, just to mix it up. The photo above in the middle of the day is slightly a different crowd and there is fashion variety. For Tuesday, we rode the Shinkansen (bullet) train to go to Odawara. This type of train regularly reaches speeds of 185 miles per hour for scheduled destinations, this train is shown below:


For our day off, we went to Akihabara in Tokyo. We took a ‘local’ train to make that journey, for a mere Y160 (approximately $2.00) we were able to go to the Akihabara district easily. That train was not as nice as the bullet train, but nonetheless reliable and a pleasant experience. This is the type of train that we took to Akihabara:


There is one important takeaway from my trip to Japan: I would love to come back with my family. This developed infrastructure and my complete feeling of safety is a big factor.

The trains are on-time, safe and they go where we needed to go. Why doesn’t it work in the US? Well, the reasons are many including inexpensive fuel and lack of serious crowding in most of my circles (the Midwest).


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