Monthly Archives: February 2012

Taxi driver

Did I mention that the metro of Tokyo is expensive? Well taxis were not going to be less. Yesterday I took my first taxi in here. We payed around 6500¥ ~ 65€. The starting tariff was 7€ which reminded me of Finland. I could not hold it so I try to sate my curiosity through the help of my Japanese friend Shima, therefore I started to ask questions to our driver. It turned out that the old man was in the business for 16 years. There are private companies and self employees. This man worked for a private company doing shifts of 20 hours under his choice to get 4 days off. He was making 2500€ a month which is a decent salary but perhaps a little bit tight for the cost of living of Tokyo. Given the massive size of this metropolis I got curious about how did taxi drivers deal with the street’s confusion before they could use a GPS. Apparently they were just using maps. The problem with addresses in Tokyo and perhaps in the rest of japan is that there are not really names for the streets except from the main avenues. The system in here is based on wards. For instance Tokyo metropolis consists of 23 wards which are governed independently. It´s really easy to get lost and even Japanese people has problems to find their way too. The use of Google maps and other global positioning systems on the cell phone are very extended. It´s interesting because when you get indications for an address on the internet you don´t get the usual itinerary visualized on a map but pictures of stores and other visual reference points around your destination…you get this sort of indications from Google maps as well.

Addresses in Tokyo are composed of 3 numbers: “…the blocks are numbered and, at the lowest level, the building has a number. Finally comes the room or apartment number.The buildings within a block are either numbered in the order that they were built, so they jump all around, or numbered in clockwise order around the block. In this clockwise numbering there is sometimes skipping of several numbers for later assignment, where future construction between existing buildings is possible”.

If you want more information about how the Japanese address system work I dropped this link that helped me to make it clear.

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Tokyo metro

20120202-205912.jpgThis is not even close to the usual crowd you can get at a Tokyo car when traveling in the metro. When is really crowded you do not need to hold on anything because is so packed that there is not space for moving. Nevertheless when the train performs rare balancing everybody moves like a Mexican wave. I can tell that is not a very pleasant feeling although is compensated by the silence that allows you to concentrate on your things. Fortunately I do not need to take the metro at the very rush hours but still the cars are crowded at any time, no matter morning or evening… It is astonishing the amount of people you can cross in this city.. The metro is efficient and more than punctual i would say, but is not as fast as expected and you still have to wait longer than I thought. In that regard i was far more impressed by Moscow’s metro where you could get a car each 15 seconds. Moreover it is quite expensive and despite there are some commuter cards you can get, those are also expensive. One of them allows you to travel between 2 specific stations and any stop between those monthly. Out of this range even within the line you will be charged extra money. I also found a monthly pass to travel as much as you want but just on those lines run by the Metro of Tokyo for around 16800 yen – 168 euros. There are different companies ruling the lines and that makes the service competitive and efficient but still expensive ;).

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