TOKYO — Even essentially the most seasoned traveler walks off of a 13-hour flight in a little bit of a fog. After touchdown in Tokyo and going by way of customs, I believed for a minute about taking an Uber to my first evening’s lodge reasonably than strive to determine what I believed have to be an intricate, troublesome maze of subway traces. After I appeared up the anticipated Uber fare for the 52-minute journey, my jaw hit the ground. ¥27,000 earlier than tolls, roughly $250. Not prepared to spend extra on a journey to my lodge than on the lodge keep itself, I appeared up the price of the prepare journey: ¥1320. Lower than 15 bucks an individual for myself and my two coworkers. The very best half? The prepare was direct. No want to change vehicles on the way in which. I used to be offered.
After touring down a pair flights of escalators, we arrived on the ticket machine. Every thing (nicely nearly every thing) concerning the transaction was easy. Above the machine was an alphabetical record of stations and the fare it took to get there. On the touchscreen itself, there was a button for English, and from there it was as straightforward as an ATM. Talking of ATMs, attempt to go to one earlier than you get to the station (one of the best place to seek out them in Japan is inside one of many many 7-Elevens) as a result of the one draw back to coach journey is that the machines solely take money.
After a 77-minute prepare journey and 5-minute stroll within the misty Japanese night, we have been on the lodge, (the quirky Moxy Tokyo, which we picked for being only a brief prepare journey from Subaru’s world headquarters). Upon seeing my mattress, I handed out for the subsequent 10 hours.
I’ve taken trains in Switzerland, London, Denver, New York, Chicago, even Los Angeles to get in, out and across the metropolis, and the trains in Tokyo put them to disgrace, although New York Metropolis comes closest within the U.S. (although it is the piss odor and rats that smash it for me). Even the Swiss trains are available in second place, principally because of the huge array of traces and fast instances in Tokyo vs the one line I’ve used from the Geneva Airport. However this is not a contest, as a result of whereas every prepare has a various diploma of usability, consolation, and reliability, in most cities I might a lot reasonably journey a prepare than drive. I assumed Tokyo, a metropolis that just about 38 million individuals name dwelling, could be the identical means. I discovered rapidly the subsequent day, driving at the back of a Subaru WRX S4, that I used to be proper.
After skirting round a language barrier with the receptionist at Subaru Headquarters the next morning, Senior Inexperienced Editor John Snyder, Affiliate Producer Alex Malburg and I climbed into our WRX press automobile and pulled out of the underground storage onto the streets of Ebisu, Japan. On the suitable aspect of the automobile, and the left aspect of the highway, John piloted the WRX down slim streets whereas I tried to navigate from the again seat. With skyscrapers so far as the attention can see, and roads on a number of ranges, Google Maps has a hell of a time determining the place you’re, and until you learn Japanese, the indicators will not assist a lot both. This, coupled with the truth that each time you get on the freeway it’s important to pay a toll, signifies that a improper flip will not solely price you time, however a substantial amount of cash as nicely. In truth, our 90-minute drive price us the equal of $36 in tolls.
All aboard the bullet prepare
After all, pinnacle of Japanese rail journey is the Shinkansen, or as it’s recognized within the States, the bullet prepare. This prepare started working in 1964, the 12 months Tokyo final hosted the Summer season Olympics and traveled between Tokyo and Osaka. Within the 54 years since, the prepare has but to have an accident. The Shinkansen operates at speeds as much as 200 miles per hour, although it has been examined at 275 miles per hour on an everyday monitor, and the maglev selection has hit 375 mph.
Our journey, from Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station to Kyoto, stopped twice between our origin and vacation spot. It hit speeds north of 160 miles per hour (measured on a GPS speedometer app) and took 2 hours and 10 minutes to journey over 250 miles. The Shinkansen is really one of the simplest ways to journey. If Elon Musk’s hyperloop is half as pleasing, it’s going to be a deal with (although and not using a view).
The bullet prepare is way more costly than an everyday prepare ticket, with a fare of ¥14,000, or round $130 (however you can use a bank card). It is corresponding to the identical distance and value I’ve paid for flights from Detroit to Chicago at half the velocity, however with out the trouble of getting to reach on the airport early to get by way of safety.
It is a snug and entertaining journey, too. It is easy and quiet. There’s greater than sufficient legroom, and reclining the seat will not trouble the individual behind you. You possibly can get up and stroll round to stretch your legs, or simply to get a greater view out one of many home windows. The Tokyo-Kyoto Route hugs the ocean, and the opposite aspect of the prepare will get a spectacular view of Mount Fuji.
However we three American vacationers have been most likely most excited when a vendor got here down the aisle with a cart of drinks and snacks. There’s not a lot that may make a journey on a dashing bullet prepare extra thrilling, however low cost beer and ice cream did the trick.
Oh, and also you want your ticket not simply to get in, however to get out of the station after the journey. When you do what John did, although, do not panic. The resourceful individuals on the Fare Adjustment counter can test their information and (most likely) difficulty you a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Look, I like vehicles. I’ll gladly hop behind the wheel of virtually something and take it round a monitor or cruise wide-open nation roads. But when I might get round in all places as simply as I did in Tokyo, I might promote my vehicles and by no means look again. As soon as the infrastructure is in place, trains are a greater transportation various in nearly each means. They’re cleaner, much less disturbing, extra environment friendly and higher for the surroundings. And, like vehicles, they’re capable of seize the creativeness. In Japan, trains can flip any journey right into a journey, whether or not it is dashing you throughout the panorama or taking you underground to resurface in a spot you have by no means been earlier than.
For extra about journey the Shinkansen, try the video above. Additionally be sure you try the remainder of Autoblog‘s movies from our latest Japanese journey.
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