I talked about their outstanding energy saving programs in my last post. Now, let me tell you about their public transportation. Relating to public transportation, if I was a teacher, I’d give Japan an A+. If I was an actor, I’d give them an Oscar. If I was a singer, I’d award them a Grammy. You get the point. They do it right.
I literally spent three weeks over there and never once did I HAVE to have a car to get anywhere. I admit, a few times we were driven around by family members. And we took taxis twice as a convenience.
But we didn’t need to.
We arrived in Nagoya by airplane and only had to walk a few feet from the airport exit to catch a waiting air-conditioned, super-comfortable bus to Risa’s hometown of Toyota City. We were picked up by Risa’s mom in downtown Toyota, but we could have taken a local bus that would have dropped us off a half block from the family apartment.
Leaving Toyota, we hoped on a local train that took us to downtown Nagoya, where we boarded the bullet train for Tokyo. Two hours later, traveling at 200 mph, we were in downtown Tokyo. We then took a subway that got us about 200 feet from our hotel. Not bad.
In Tokyo, subways and local trains took us everywhere we wanted to visit, including the giant buddha in (insert town name), about 50 miles or so from Tokyo.
From Tokyo we traveled to Yokohama (I had to go to Yokohama, being one of the stops in Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 days), then back to Nagoya, then to beautiful Takayama, this really cool mountain village called Shirakawa-go, then to Fukuoka, then Hiroshima (Hiroshima deserves its own post – I’ll get to that later), then lovely Kyoto and finally back again to Nagoya and then to the airport. Never once did we need to rent a car. And never once was a train or subway or bus not at the stop the minute the schedule said it would be. Unbelievable. It was so easy it was crazy.
Words can’t express how important I feel good public transportation is for tourism and economic stability of a region. If folks can’t easily, and cheaply, get around, you just can’t have viability. Japan has that viability. No question.
I know we have great public transportation systems in places like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, among others. But they don’t connect to each other the way they do in Japan. You can literally get anywhere you want to go, from the top of the country to the bottom, quickly, (relatively) cheaply, and easily.
To me, that’s the DIFF and always will be.