Japan Trains

In Japan, trains are the way to travel. In any remotely urban area, everybody uses the trains to get around. And, yes, there are guys who work at the train station that push people onto crowded commuter trains so the door will close, but that’s only in the really crowded part of Tokyo! Probably not your station!
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When you first get to Japan, it’s a good idea to explore your local train station. The trains were especially confusing for me when I first got here. I recommend checking out the station, seeing which platforms go where, getting a timetable, things like that. It’s not a bad idea to take a trip to the station where you’ll be working, just to get an idea of how to get there. That way, you won’t run the risk of getting lost on the first day!

Now, it’s tough to figure out just how much you’re supposed to pay or where you’re going. Eventually, you should learn the kanji characters for your station, the station where you work, and important places like that. For the time being, if you’re confused, you can always buy the cheapest ticket and adjust it when you get to your destination station. There are little “fare adjustment” machines at every station, and they have English.

Getting off and on the trains can be cutthroat. And those trains get crowded. The best way to figure out how it’s done, is to watch other people getting on and off the train. On crowded trains, people who need to get off soon position themselves so they’re closer to the door. That way, they don’t have to push through the crowd before the door shuts. It might sound hectic, but you’ll get the hang of it!

And, always give up your seat for the old folks. That’s just good common sense, but a lot of times you don’t see people do that. It’s just good manners. Unless I’m really tired, or have to go a really long way, I usually just stand up.

One more thing: there are “women-only” trains. Even if you don’t know any Japanese at all, it’s pretty obvious. They’re pink and say “ladies’ train” or something like that all over them. If you’re a guy, I wouldn’t recommend getting on the ladies’ train. That would be a bad idea!

It gets to be a piece of cake after a while, and even those long distances don’t seem like so much. Just take a book!

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