Skip to main content

The Soul of Japan: Great Train Lines

Just in Tokyo alone, if we were to include private rail stations, there are about 704 train stations in the greater Tokyo area. How many stations in all of Japan? Probably thousands. This sort of reminds me of a friend of mine who once told me that you would need several lifetimes just to visit every single hotspring in Japan. The same analogy could also be applied to the number of train stations in Japan, if you were to visit them; there're just too many to visit in one lifetime.


Here is a google map of the many stations I have visited and gone through over the years. I have written about some of my favorite train travels here, here, here, and here.


There are more, like about my travels to Akita, and so forth and so on. This is, like my onsen maps, a work in progress. As the days and weeks go by I will enhance some of the place markers so that you can get a better idea of the places I have personally been to. A lot of my travels are focused up north in the Tohoku region, because I feel the train lines and stations are better preserved than a lot of other region in Japan. In other words, people still ride the Gono Line to work, and yet it's one of the oldest lines in Japan! Commuters still use and pass through Goshogawara Station, a station that's very old and off the beaten path in a remotely located part of Aomori Prefecture. Old stations with dilapidated interiors and rotary phones that date back to the early days of Westernization. In the area where I am currently residing, Kanto area to be exact, old lines are few and far between with many of the train lines left abandoned and unused. If you travel through parts of Shizuoka you can see some evidence of this.




I have ridden on almost all of the shinkansen in Japan, including many of the local lines from East to West in this country. The longest train trip I have ever taken was from Yokohama to Kagoshima and from Tokyo to Sapporo Station via the shinkansen. If you were to ride the LOCAL line from Shin-Aomori to Tokyo it would take you seventeen hours and 10 transfers!

( example schedule here )

You could probably experience Japan in an amazing new way if you were to use a local line to Tokyo from Aomori. Only extreme train geeks like myself would attempt this. I haven't yet, but am thinking about challenging it this summer if things continue to go smoothly for me. The train line is truly one of the ways you can really feel the vibe of the nation and its people. The train is as much a part of the Japanese peoples lives as the culture because through its windows we can peek into the everyday lives of ordinary Japanese people. You can eavesdrop on their chatter and feel the atmosphere around them, and you, and at how they live their everyday lives. For me, that train ride is wonderful, for them, it's just an ordinary train that's an important part of their commute, and perhaps taking things for granted, like at how beautiful things look through their own window.


Comments

  1. Lots of train stations in Japan and there are some great ones around as well. I love some of the unique ones that can be found out in the countryside.

    Japan Australia

    ReplyDelete
  2. For me & my family, just travelin around Japan on those numerous train is enough. Of course, getting to the destination is the icing on th ecake but I'd be happy just getting on trains. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Japan-Australia- Thanks for the comment. Yes. there are so many great train lines in Japan.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Iina - Thanks for commenting. I consider the train trip part of the vacation. For me getting to point B should be fully enjoyed from point A. I see what you mean though.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Shin-Okubo: Little Korea

So I finally got around to going up there to Shin-Okubo,  the land of Seoul via the Yamanote Line.  Been putting this trip off for years for personal reasons;  I am not a fan of Hanlleyu.      I knew why I came up this way, and for none other reason than the food, and maybe to bask in the nausea of Korean romanticist who steal Japanese Jukujo's souls.    But honestly, I like spicy food and stews and pickled vegetables that challenge my taste buds.    I also love the little funky cafes that line the main thoroughfares and alley ways, each with their own little eclectic menus and interior decor.     This place is Korea.  





Shin-Okuba represents more than just a place to relish in Korean culinary delights and K-pop culture, but a place where Koreans can express themselves through their culture.    You can feel the local vibe in the air as you're walking down narrow walkways and footpaths.    I have personally been to mainland Korea six times, so a lot of the nostalgia was there …

August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, especially  in places like Tohoku and Kanto regions.  August is also  the most contentious month of the year in Japan; with the end of the war and war-related guilt.    Then there's the great exodus back home for millions of Japanese.   Obon season is what it's called in Japan, and it's  where families return to their hometowns to remember their ancestors and to spend time with loved ones.  Gravestones are visited, cleaned, and washed; rice or alcohol is often placed on  miniature altars next to a  headstone.  This is a way for Japanese to reconnect with their roots; a way for them to stay grounded and founded in the ways of tradition and cultural protocol.   

For the foreign tourist, some places will be overcrowded and expensive to reach; for Japanese, this is normal and can't be helped.   Wherever you go there will be lines and h…

Japan Board of Education: Amazing Grace...?

Japan Board of Education Textbook.
Amazing Grace
Shuken Shuppan  Polestar textbook English Communication

Preface:  Japanese / Japan is  one of the leading donors in humanitarian aid around the world.   They have donated billions of yen to charities, developing countries, and startup business to just about every country on the globe.  Some Japanese have even taken matters to the extreme  to the point of poking their noses into hotspot areas like Palestine and Isreal, things the Japanese may want to avoid.  Had Japan shared its borders with an ethnic minority with its own government, the relative peace and calm of this country would be questionable.   No other country can be like nor emulate Japan.   So, where does this spirit of charity and altruism come from exactly?   Why do the Japanese feel they need to save the whole world, while caring very little for its own people?   It's the Board of Education...?  The essay below is one such example of what Japanese kids learn in school,…