Ride Local Trains for an Different and Deeper View of Japan
The Little Station in Yokohama Caught me Off Guard
The Little station in Yokohama Caught me Off Guard
I was there on a visit with my friend Keiji to see one of his colleagues at one of Japan’s largest Engineering firms.
It was like a slip back in time to step off the train onto a long cement platform with no safety barrier, no electronic surveillance equipment to keep tabs on passengers, and no colored streaks on the cement to control where we line up.
We walked off the platform, over the tracks and touched our Suica pre-paid train cards on a little ad-hoc ticket gate set up for the convenience of those of us who usually function in the digital age.
The station master greeted us with a smile, and we were on our way to the cutting-edge yet friendly cluster of corporate Japan just five minutes away.
I’ve come across many stations like this in Japan. I’ve watched rice paddies slide lazily by on the train from Okayama to Oku station, been greeted on the platform by our Inn host at Izu Hokkawa station after switching trains from Atami to the local train to Izu. I’ve enjoyed strong rains in deeply green mountain sides on a local train from Gifu station to Ibi-gun and road-top trolley trains in Hakodate Hokkaido and Enoshima Kanagawa.
Local trains and stations are worth the effort
Izu Hokkawa station
Hakodate Trolley Train
Enoden Trolley Train
Each and every local train speaks tomes of history and feels drenched in the hard work of those who built them, those who conduct and of course those who use them as their daily means of transportation. Over the last 50 years, the Japanese economic miracle and economic growth bubble inspired creation of a transportation network to allow access to so many nooks and crannies, so many little adventures across this amazing land.
Visitors should never hesitate to jump on a local train. People are extremely friendly and helpful, there is miniscule chance you would ever come upon any type of crime, and the new discoveries you would make during a two or three hour local train ride can bolster the super-speed amazement of your Shinkansen bullet train experience.
The Shinkansen ride is a must, but local trains can be an exhilarating aspect of travelling Japan. My friend Lennon got on at Shinagawa station in Tokyo and had a six hour ride to Osaka on various local trains. If you have a some time to spare during your stay, I definitely recommend you give it a try.
Former Deep Japan Writer