Living in Japan, I really got to appreciate the public transportation, especially the trains. Over 70% of rail services are electrified, and since the Shinkansen started operating in 1964, this country has enjoyed fast, reliable trains that pollute a lot less than if everyone was driving their own car. Now, JR East has troubles with its hydroelectric power supply, and this city just wouldn't be the same without it.
1. The Yamanote line loop was completed in 1925 and carries an average of 3.55 million passengers a day, which translates to a patronage figure of 1.3 billion passengers a year. Amazing.
The Yamanote Line will take you around central Tokyo in exactly one hour. It is a loop line connecting Tokyo station to Ueno, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya and Shinagawa - and back to Tokyo station again. The trains keep coming at rush hour at brief intervals of just minutes. The E231 series trains from Kawasaki Heavy Industries are real work-horses which everyone living in this city will be very familiar with.
2. At Tamachi station, you get to see a lot of passing high-speed trains, including the 500 and 700 Shinkansen, bound for Osaka and Hiroshima in western Japan. Another spot for Shinkansen train-spotting is near Yurakucho, where you can have a beer and a snack, literaly just meters below the train tracks (Thanks Tom for the introduction). There are also Shinkansen running north from Ueno and thru from Ikebukuro up to Omiya, Saitama....
3. Yurikamome: This new, driver-less train connects central Tokyo to the Odaiba islands in Tokyo Bay. Smooth, futuristic, and very popular with young couples who like the fun fares at Venus Fort, Tokyo Big Site, and the Odaiba Beach, just minutes from the city. Tokyo wants the Olympics in 2016, and this is where some of the events may be hosted.
The Yurikamome trains run with rubber-tyred wheels on elevated concrete track guided by the side walls.
4. Tokyo Momorail: Haneda is Tokyo's domestic airport, with some flights to Korea and China as well. The Tokyo Monorail was inaugurated in 1964, just in time for Tokyo Olympics, and is still the most efficient way to get from the city to the airport, although not as smooth as the Yurikamome.
Some 127,000 passengers ride this every day, from 5:30 AM to midnight with over 500 trains.
5. In 1957, the Odakyu Line, a private railroad, proved that high-speed trains were not only technically possible, but also economically feasable: they actually set the world speed record in that year, quite an achievement. And that was 52 years ago!
They run from Shinjuku station to Hakone, near Mt Fuji, and the Romance Car is just that - a great service for people who are heading for the hot springs, hiking, golf courses, ryokans (and love hotels) for the day off. The 7000 LSE has seats that turn so that passengers always face forward. Note how the driver's seat is above the passengers in the front. A nice touch.
Videos over at Treehugger.
Blogs I Like
- Ad B: Japan Navigator
- Adventures of a (Swedish) Salariman in Tokyo
- Amy: Blue Lotus
- Boing Boing: Wonderful Things
- Brendan: UNU OurWorld 2.0
- Hiroko & Rick: Itadakimasu
- Jared B: Tokyo Green Space
- Joan: Popcorn Homestead
- Jon: Toshogu or As I See Japan... From L.A.
- Justin B: The Rational Pessimist (Climate & Risk)
- Kat: Food Adventures in Japan
- Ken: KenElwood in semi-rural Japan
- Mari: Watashi to Tokyo
- MTC: Shisaku
- Otakimura: In The Pines
- P: Pacific Islander
- Peko Peko: Kyoto Foodie
- Richard H: Spike Japan
- Risa & Kirk: Savory Japan
- Robert: Pure Land Mountain
- Shizuoka Gourmet
- Ten Thousand Things
- Tom: Kitchen Garden in Japan
Links I Like
- News: About Sweden in English
- News: BBC
- News: Der Spiegel (Germany) in English
- News: Deutche Welle
- News: FT Asia (UK, EU)
- News: Kyoto Journal (Japan)
- News: NHK World Society & Others (Japan)
- News: People's Daily (China)
- News: Telegraph (UK)
- News: The Local (Sweden)
- News: Yomiuri Online (Japan)
- News: Yonhap (Korea)
- NGOs/News: Organic Consumers Association (US)
- NGOs: Amnesty
- NGOs: Consumers Union (US) Food
- NGOs: Consumers Union of Japan
- NGOs: Greenpeace
- NGOs: Greenz.jp
- NGOs: Japan for Sustainability
- NGOs: Japan Organic Agriculture Association
- NGOs: Japan Vegetarian Society
- Shops: Alishan Organic Center
- Shops: Eco to Waza (GreenJapan)
- Shops: Warabe Mura
- Stuff: Japan Probe