Getting Around

So far, we’ve been getting around Tokyo on trains. We didn’t really think a great deal about the other forms of transport, because the the trains have been so good. Tokyo is one of only about two cities in the world where public transport runs at a profit, and you can see why: trains go everywhere, arrive on time, run regularly and are very cheap. The only confusing thing is the large number of train companies in Tokyo. There are at least four of them, and the tickets are not interchangeable.

We’ve been told that taxis are slow and expensive, and I’d believe it. The traffic is pretty awful. The speed limit is 50 km/h on the regular streets, but you’d be lucky to do half that anywhere near where we’re staying. Speaking of taxis, the taxis here are mostly Toyota Crowns, and they have power-operated doors! You leave the door open when getting out, and the drive pushes a button causing it to swing closed! Every taxi company has their fleet painted in a different colour scheme, rather like Sydney.

But despite the terrible traffic, Japanese people seem to love their cars. You never see a beat-up car in Tokyo. Everyone who has a car keeps it in excellent condition. There are so many models of Japanese car that we don’t see in Australia! It’s amazing they turn a profit with the number of lines they’d need to build them all. They range from tiny two-seaters to things like a Tarago on growth hormones. And you can get angular cars here, as well as the smooth bubbly shapes seen in Australia.

Going smaller, motor bikes are fairly popular here, and scooters even more so. Scooters, like cars, range from tiny to huge. I didn’t know you could get a scooter as big as a Honda Fusion or Yamaha Majesty. The scooters aren’t all in immaculate condition like the cars, though. People park their scooters along the edges of the wide footpaths, along with the bicycles.

Ah, bicycles. No Asian city would be complete without them. There are lots of them here. People ride them on the wide footpaths, trying to negotiate the masses of people without causing injuries. Most people are riding old-fashioned bicycles, with side-pull calliper brakes, and without multiple gears.

The major roads are really wide here, and the small streets are really narrow. You see these really small trucks delivering to the restaurants in the small streets – like a regular refrigerated truck, but scaled down to fit in the small streets. A lot of smaller streets have been closed off and turned into malls. On weekends and holidays, even more streets are closed off, and buskers perform on the asphalt.

This entry was posted on Monday, 9 January, 2006 at 5:54 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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