In Japan train are always on time - always.

There are many goods things in Japan but there is one thing ingrained in the Japanese ADN and technology: punctuality.

Here, trains and metro and bus are always on time. Never too early (they wait at the station), very very very rarely late (reasons: typhoons, accident but never because they are not ready or there is something on the tracks). When they are late, even 30 seconds, the driver will apologize so profusely that you may want to stop him from jumping of the train in shame and sacrifice.

In many countries train time schedules are quite relative, sometimes totally useless (unless you are Swiss, you will know this situation, but I would not dare to name any country specifically). You can expect to get on the train even though you are a bit late; in some region, the bus might wait for you. Never going to happen in Japan. Only the bus drivers wait for you because they are more than often kind.

Do not expect such a thing here. But don't worry. Unless you are in a very remote place in Japan, you will not need to wait too much. In rush hour, there might be 10-12 trains per hour.

So, stay cool, and get on the next train, it is all right not to rush!

The analog way

In a digital world with many easy apps, I've found out that the analog way is the faster way for your mind to find order out of chaos.

So, prepare your paper maps and a pencil and be ready to play the game.

First, you circle the station of your hotel, and of major hubs with many lines connecting. In Tokyo, these would be Tokyo, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Shibuya, Otemachi and Ueno.

You want to do the same with Kyoto bus maps which are based on a brilliant idea: bus stops are based on touristic attraction. You want to go to the Gold Pavillion, find it on the map and then use my pencil and maze game method... Be careful, scale is not respected on the maps so you might find Arashiyama further away than it looks like.

Then, circle the places you want to go. You might need some time to find them but you will. Then, it is very easy, you start with the start line, where you are now, and you follow the lines so that you can reach the destination through the maze the easiest way. One or max 2 connections. It is possible, there are many possibilities so it's also a good conversation topic over a cup of coffee.

Why it's so complicated

There are many train and metro companies here.
The Japan railways and many other private rail companies such as Keisei, Odakyu, Tobu, Seibu, Hankyu, Hanshin, ...
The metro (private) and the metropolitan metro lines...

some lines change their names on the way. Keisei line is the worst. Try to avoid it at all costs. The metro part of keisei line is Asakusa-line (pink) - if you stay on the Asakusa line, you are safe. But otherwise, it is quite adventurous.

The good news is that all this works very well together and today, the SUICA card is used everywhere so that you can use any transport with only one prepaid card.

But, it is still very tough to fix your optimized journey from point A to point B if you do not write Japanese. another reason why the printed map is handy.

Claire image



Claire's other advice

Kasai Rinkai Park : enjoy the sea ! images

Kasai Rinkai Park : enjoy the sea !

If you want to get away from high-rise building without going too far, Kasai Rinkai parc is your place. One station before Disneyland (Maihama), on the Keiyo line, it takes you 20 minutes to get …

Enjoy the cherry blossoms images

Enjoy the cherry blossoms

Every spring, it is the same thing: everyone are getting very (positively) anxious and are looking forward to enjoying the cherry blossoms.Spring is there. 8 blossoms on a tree, and it's done. C…

Hot spring etiquette: Please, do hot-bath like a pro. images

Hot spring etiquette: Please, do hot-bath like a pro.

Hot springs are often marketed for their positive effects on health: skin, articulations, cardio-vascular system, muscular relaxation… depending on its mineral content, the hot water is supposed to h…

Indulge myself with a small luxury : a minitrip to Kusatsu images

Indulge myself with a small luxury : a minitrip to Kusatsu

Have you ever had that feeling that your mind is stuck with your work and you need to get away from the office for a while? Staying home is not an option because then, you will not stay focus on your…

A trip to hot springs? images

A trip to hot springs?

I remember one business meeting I attended and the quizzical look of my Belgian business partner when our Japanese host suggested a trip to hot springs together. We knew him very well, but…, a trip t…

Omotenashi - a tradition made famous by Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic 2020 images

Omotenashi - a tradition made famous by Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic 2020

Since Tokyo has been nominated to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, « omotenashi » has become the buzz word to epitomize Japan’s art of welcoming guests and attract tourists. But what do…

You might also like

The Top 8 Places to Beat Summer Heat in Japan images

The Top 8 Places to Beat Summer Heat in Japan

Where do Japanese love to visit to avoid summer heat in Japan? I searched the top 8 summer resorts loved by Japanese including Furano in Hokkaido, Okinawa, Karuizawa and Hakone, which are famous amon…

Alexlovetravel image


What does the kiosk on the train platform offer? images

What does the kiosk on the train platform offer?

A convenience store on the train platform where you can buy very basic stuffs! Kiosk offers best possible basic needs with a minimum space on the train platform. We had Kiosk even before all the …

totowatanabe image


Nombe Yokocho - Drunkard's Alley images

Nombe Yokocho - Drunkard's Alley

That is exactly what the sign says, "Nombe Yokocho" - Drunkard's Alley. It is located about a minute from Shibuya Station - almost directly across the street from a police box. It is a small sectio…

mikekato image


JR Kyoto Station - Futuristic architecture masterpiece images

JR Kyoto Station - Futuristic architecture masterpiece

If you only pass through the platforms of Kyoto Station, you miss out to explore this impressive building, the third largest train station in Japan (Ref: 1st: Tokyo, 2nd: Umeda). The whole building w…

EmiOnishi image


Tokyo's Yamanote Line: More Than You Ever Wanted To Know images

Tokyo's Yamanote Line: More Than You Ever Wanted To Know

Cruise through the pages of Deep Japan, and you'll find tons of advice on how to ride the trains and get to where you're going. But, did you ever stop to think about *how* and *why* the train system…

jdlawrence image


Popular Anime Locations in Japan images

Popular Anime Locations in Japan

One of the most popular anime ever. In an apocolyptic future, after the destruction of Tokyo by giant monster, the capitol of Japan is moved to Hakone`s Sengokuhara area.The main characters go to…

Kintaro-man image