In no particular order in my, ‘Why Japan is so great’ series of posts, I want to praise the public transport in Japan which I have always thought brilliant. Having taken a train from Bristol to Cardiff at the weekend (approximately 44 miles) and travelled back on a Sunday with replacement coach and a couple of extra changes with a journey time of 1h40, this has only added to my adoration of Japan and its public transport. Just to give you an idea, it takes 96 minutes to travel from Tokyo to Sendai by Bullet train – that’s a journey of about 230 miles…..and on a Sunday!
Japan just does transport so well. As well as the subway and local train line, everyone knows about the Shinkansen (AKA Bullet train). The trains link up with local funicular railways, cable cars, bus, ferry and more allowing you to get from A to B in the time and manner you expected and planned for – an absolute pleasure. The vast majority of public transport runs on time with trains on the busy Tokyo lines running to the hundredth of the second of their scheduled time. That’s how good they are. Public transport is rarely delayed without extremely good reason and it is quickly back on its feet.
As well as running on time, public transport is very clean and comfortable making the experience as a whole, a very nice one. Once you have sat in your seat, the ticket conductor will bow and request to see your ticket, followed by another bow and a ‘thank you’ as he leaves the carriage. They will be followed by very pleasant staff with a trolley-full of goods from hot and cold drinks, to snacks and Bento boxes to toy models of the trains themselves. A very pleasant ordeal indeed.
Whether you are travelling super-sleek Bullet train passing Mt Fuji at high speed or cute little ‘chug-chug’ trains with names like ‘Seaside Liner’ that take you at a leisurely pace along coastal routes, it is just nice.
We plan thousands of Japan travel itinerary a year and I am happy that we specialise in travel to Japan. It probably doesn’t sound like much, but the public transport is partly why Japan is so great. It goes on my list anyway.