Walk? Bike? Car? Subway? Which way would you move around Japan? The clear winner is: Subway! Throughout all my travels in Japan I rode the subways for most of it. Everywhere we traveled the subway took us there, company visits, malls, restaurants, clubs, we were everywhere.
When first arriving and taking the trains I was a little confused and lost, but after the fourth day, I was riding the subway like I lived there my whole life. The subway is like an underground city. Once you walk down the stairs it’s a place of its own. There are shops, fast food, restaurants, and businesses.
When traveling on the subway we use little cards (credit card size) to enter and exit the trains. Japan Rail (JR) is the owner of all trains in Japan and each section holds their own cards. In Tokyo they are called “Mo Mo Pasmo” or “Suica” cards. While in Osaka we used “ICOCA” cards.
It made things much faster and much easier, all you had to do is scan the card at the ticket gate on the way in to the trains, and scan on the way out of the trains. You could even scan the card while still in your wallet. There’s no fuss with money and tickets, or losing them. When low on balance the ticket gate will tell you and there are designated areas for refilling your card. You can even use them for buses and above ground trains.
From sun up to sun down we were either riding a bus or a train to travel, I became so use to it, and it was like a way of life. But I did miss my car back in America and driving. Being in another country and using their main use of transportation made me see how different it is for Japanese and Americans. When Japanese need to be places they will take the subway, but if I needed somewhere to be I would get in my car and go. The other subway I have used was in Washington D.C. and the volume of people will never amount to the number of people in Japan.
I would never in Detroit, Pontiac or in East Lansing take public transportation, unless it was extreme emergencies. But in Japan, I wouldn’t own a car; I would ride the subway or ride a bike.