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What do you think are the good and bad points about the subway systems in Japan's cities?

when do subway points expire


AmericanForeigner at Jan. 18, 2012 - 06:50AM JST

They are far too crowded and leave a bad impression.

If Japan wants to attract more tourists they should implement a non-japanese car for those of us who expect to travel with our dignity intact.

Moderator at Jan. 18, 2012 - 07:45AM JST

everything is good except unfairly high fares :)

Brainiac at Jan. 18, 2012 - 07:50AM JST

I think Japan's subways are the best in the world for the usual reasons -- efficiency, cleanliness and so on.

But as for negative points, I'd like to see the following improved or changed:

Have subways run 24 hours a day.

Have some express services in the big cities to ease congestion.

Do away with the separate fares for the various lines. Have one fare for all subway operators and for all distances.

More seats on the platforms.

shawnth at Jan. 18, 2012 - 08:00AM JST

1) More escalators. 2) More garbage cans.

On some major lines, if there is enough hight space, use double deck trains to ease congestion.

Wurthington at Jan. 18, 2012 - 08:27AM JST

I think Japan's Subways and Train system overall is unbelieveably great. My only gripe might be they do not enforce the ladies only cars.

Nicky Washida at Jan. 18, 2012 - 08:33AM JST

Clean, punctual, good value for money (within Tokyo anyway).

Would like to see 24 hour trains, more escalators/elevators to ground level (especially in Ginza), more sitting places.

Piglet at Jan. 18, 2012 - 08:41AM JST

Subways are great. If I could change anything, I would just:

expand service beyond midnight (24/24 would be great but even until 2 or 3 am would really help).

significantly decrease the amount and the volume of announcements. It is very tiring to take trains and subways because of the incessant announcements.

wanderlust at Jan. 18, 2012 - 08:42AM JST

In general they are are good, but better access is required - barrier free often means escalators to the below ground level, then steep narrow stairs for the final path to the surface - rendering them useless. More seats on the platforms would be useful for those lines/ times where trains run less frequently. And quieter platforms - no need for the constant announcements that end up as irritating background noise.

Julian Onyali at Jan. 18, 2012 - 08:48AM JST

But as for negative points, I'd like to see the following improved or changed: Have subways run 24 hours a day.

Do any cities have 24 hour subway systems? I think Japanese cities just need 24 hour buses (like London) and night-time transport would probably be fine.

ebisen at Jan. 18, 2012 - 08:51AM JST

The Japanese subway system is by far the best in the world. My only complaint is that they should hurry implementing the anti suicide gates to all lines and all stations.

namabiru4me at Jan. 18, 2012 - 09:03AM JST

I agree with all of the comments about running 24 hr. or at least extended hours. 2 trains an hour would be fine in the wee hours. it would save me 3000 yen plus every time I miss last train!

Dennis Bauer at Jan. 18, 2012 - 09:09AM JST

Don't realy have any gripes, only thing that annoys me is that during the rush some people start looking for their ticket inches before the gate and on the escelator kinki on the right and kansai on the left please

sfjp330 at Jan. 18, 2012 - 09:13AM JST

For many people in Tokyo, subways are crowded, noisy places only marginally better than being stuck in traffic and most of them are. But the best of them are not only efficient, they reflect the character of the cities they serve and the people they carry. Tokyo subway system is the busiest system in the world. The system is famous for its oshiya (pusher) who shove passengers into packed subway cars so the doors can close. And you think your commute is hell. Best in the world being pushed into the train?

JeffLee at Jan. 18, 2012 - 09:19AM JST

The bench seats suck. I don't like being squeezed against strangers. They should have armrests like the London subway or individual seats like the Bangkok Skytrain, Singapore MRT, etc.

Singapore's got the world's best system -- spacious and beautiful stations, lots of seating, easy connections.

tkoind2 at Jan. 18, 2012 - 09:41AM JST

Too expensive. Should run 24hrs or at least until 2-3am. Should schedule more trains at night. What makes these guys think that volumes at 10pm are significantly lower than 6pm? In my experience the trains are worst later but the frequency of trains is often less. Why? No rolling drunk tank for inebriated passengers. I propose a vinyl lined car with a supply of plastic bags on every post 9pm train Thurs-Sun.

y3chome at Jan. 18, 2012 - 09:43AM JST

And wot is it with people who slow down approaching the elevators? And as said above please get your ticket ready before approaching the gate. Arrrrg!

Weasel at Jan. 18, 2012 - 09:52AM JST

Pro's - punctual, fairly clean, pretty modern, quickly gets you across town

Con's - a little pricey if it's the main mode of transportation around the city, passenger cars can get over crowded, carrying anything larger than a laptop case is a real hassle

nigelboy at Jan. 18, 2012 - 10:07AM JST

What makes these guys think that volumes at 10pm are significantly lower than 6pm? In my experience the trains are worst later but the frequency of trains is often less. Why?

Perhaps it has to do with THE FACT that volumes are indeed LOWER.

tkoind2 at Jan. 18, 2012 - 10:14AM JST

Nigelboy, and yet the trains remain packed to the point of not being able to breathe. A rational company would address this problem.

nigelboy at Jan. 18, 2012 - 10:21AM JST


Perhaps you don't take trains or your watch is a little off. My experience is in tune with the above linked report.

paulinusa at Jan. 18, 2012 - 11:00AM JST

"everything is good except unfairly high fares :)"

"Too expensive."

"Con's - a little pricey if it's the main mode of transportation around the city. "

My English friend who lives in the US gripes about the London Tube's cost when he visits. A one zone fare costs US $6.58 or JPY 506. And I'm sure there are other cities with high rates. When compared to other costs in Japan, the train fares are quite reasonal, so don't complain.

smithinjapan at Jan. 18, 2012 - 11:01AM JST

Good points: They are extremely well timed and very convenient (albeit quite complex as a result). Bad points: over-crowded during rush-hour and quite expensive compared to other countries.

All told, I think the Japanese train/subway system is among the best in the world.

tkoind2 at Jan. 18, 2012 - 11:20AM JST

dear Nigelboy.

I take three trains every day for an hour each way. Subway, JR and a local line. I have a watch, that keeps perfect time. And two required cells from work that both keep time quite nicely too.

To prevent any other pointless commentaries let's cover the rest in advance shall we?

I am perfectly aware of what constitutes crowded based upon the ability to breathe, move or otherwise remain firmly standing on the floor in contrast to floating off center due to crowd shifts.

I am equally aware of what times I frequently take trains. 7pm, 8pm, 9pm, 10 and 11 being the frequent late work evenings.

I am equally aware that my friends and family experience similar issues on their trains.

Now, perhaps your train, in particular is not crowded at night due to the reduced number of runs per hour. But I can assure you that the crowds on my line exceed the mash of the morning commute at peak hours even at 10pm on most week nights and beyond imagination on Friday nights.

So rationalize all you want, trains can and should run more frequently during obvious peak times. Just as it is bloody well obvious that trains should run later than they do as the hoards of people trying to take late trains clearly illustrates.

Jonothan Clayton at Jan. 18, 2012 - 11:28AM JST

I think the system is fine. Now I have not been in Japan for a long time, but when I was there (mid 60's) to advoid the mass of people I got on in the last car, no problem there. Of course I was 14 years old and I just went from home to school and back again. When I was there again in the early 80's I still used the trains and buses, love every minute of it. And as for the cost, thats life on this planet. Thank you for reading this comment.

tokyokawasaki at Jan. 18, 2012 - 11:43AM JST

The subways are excellent and very reliable.

zichi at Jan. 18, 2012 - 12:18PM JST

There's a big difference between West and East Japan. The West systems is better, cheaper. People frequently offer me their seat since I walk with a stick. But both are clean and mostly run on time except when there's a jumper.

bicultural at Jan. 18, 2012 - 01:08PM JST

Expensive? You can get from one end of the Yamanote circle to the other for around 260 yen, even if you change lines. That's cheap if you ask me. The only complaint is how deep the Toei lines are, but I guess there's nothing you can do about that.

Qaueckernaeck at Jan. 18, 2012 - 01:29PM JST

In Tokyo, besides the extremely unsafe—and in fact by JR/Tokyo Metro supported—overcrowding during rush hour, it's as good as it can be. As long as nothing out of the ordinary happens, the Tokyo subway system is overall one of the finest in the world.

Nessie at Jan. 18, 2012 - 02:05PM JST


I enter the carriage and find it's women only. I move to the next car. As I get ready to sit down, I see it's oldster-pregger priority seating. I move again. I notice I'm now in the no-cellphone zone.

Fair enough on the olderster/preggers, but for cellphone no-fly zones and women-only cars, enough coddling already.

Julian Onyali at Jan. 18, 2012 - 02:14PM JST

Nessie: It's unfortunate but even if the trains themselves are fine, sometimes the people who use them can be inconsiderate. Designated 'priority' seating and woman-only carriages wouldn't be needed if people conducted themselves appropriately.

That's not a uniquely Japanese thing of course. 'Priority seating', 'baby on board' badges and no-phone carriages are all present in the UK too, for much the same reasons.

Nessie at Jan. 18, 2012 - 02:23PM JST

Designated 'priority' seating and woman-only carriages wouldn't be needed if people conducted themselves appropriately

I'm really objecting to the other coddling: cell-phone and women-only.

NetNinja at Jan. 18, 2012 - 03:05PM JST

You know, I've heard that it's only advised and not actually LAW. They try to convince you that it's the law but actually it's not. On a couple of occasions I got on the train and I was dead tired. I didn't look at my watch, I didn't read any banners. All I wanted was that seat cause I was exhausted. I took me about 3 stops before I started to realize something was odd about this car.

Where are the other men? Then it hit me. right on the window. Here's the truth: Nobody said anything to me. Nobody so much as gave me a dirty look. Security didn't come through. nothing. nada. What did I do? I stayed right there. I was tired and the other cars were packed.

I'm against gender inequality anyway. It's not fair that women have their own car in this crowded society.

@AmericanForeigner Oh BTW. while you guys JUMPED all over this guy for his remarks. even the moderators. Maybe you didn't check to see if his answer really was SENSIBLE. I suggest you read up on Nagoya's subway proposal to segregate their trains.

@American In your defense, what you wish for has been tried in the city of Nagoya due to complaints by local foreigners who requested it. It never actually came to be but it was on the table at one point.

Guillaume VarГЁs at Jan. 18, 2012 - 03:08PM JST

Design of the trains is quite oldish (even for new trains) but it doesn't really matter (after all much of the country is stuck in the late 70's/ early 80's design wise ).

Overall subways are wonderful in Japan (I know only of a few cities Tokyo / Nagoya / Kobe / Osaka / Kyoto) but it is probably more or less the same in other cities.

Please Just please keep the announcements down and try to synthesize the information :

no need for example to ask the driver to repeat what had just been announced automatically by the PA system

next station / destination information is enough (as well as potential delays and problems), no need to repeat the manner rules or the name of the company at each stop, we already know that).

2020hindsights at Jan. 18, 2012 - 05:06PM JST

Singapore's got the world's best system -- spacious and beautiful stations, lots of seating, easy connections.

Actually, it's not the best because it doesn't cover half the city.

I agree with other posters that it would be nice if it operated longer. However, it wouldn't make enough money to make it worthwhile.

lostrune2 at Jan. 18, 2012 - 05:07PM JST

Do any cities have 24 hour subway systems?

I recall at least NYC's is, and one-fare-for-all as well.

iceshoecream at Jan. 18, 2012 - 05:17PM JST

Yep, love 'em. The only thing I would add is the barriers. Doesn't make sense that the Marunouchi line has them on one side of the platform, and then the other side (forgot which line) doesn't have them.

edojin at Jan. 18, 2012 - 05:56PM JST

Subways are great here in Tokyo. I've also been on subways in Sapporo, Nagoya, Yokohama, Kyoto and Osaka. and they all get me to where I'm going at a fast pace. The only real problems I've encountered is in Osaka. I'm just too dumb to figure out their system of buying tickets (yes, I'm old-fashioned. I still use money). Every time I ride the subways there, I've got to ask a local how to help me with the machines.

tmarie at Jan. 18, 2012 - 06:37PM JST

My only gripe might be they do not enforce the ladies only cars.

My gripe is that they have one. Get rid of them and teach the locals to behave! Numerous times my husband and I have jumped in a car only to have him leap out at the last minute because we've gotten in the women only car. It is pathetic that Japan "needs" them. They also don't help the situation with many men thinking that women enjoy being felt up if they aren't in the women only car.

I would love 24 hours a day but I have heard they will never do it because having them shut down is a form of crowd and social control - which in a way, makes sense. If you have cars 24 hours a day, that leads to more drinking and probably more violence.

My issue with them: 1. the lack of garbage cans and seats on platforms 2. Silver seating not being enforced by staff 3. The prices

Ivan Coughanoffalot at Jan. 18, 2012 - 08:38PM JST

I think that the trains are wonderful. Like many of the posters above, I find the appalling manners of many of the people on them irksome. Is it so difficult to move one's behind up a little, when one knows full well one is taking up two seats?

Reckless at Jan. 18, 2012 - 08:50PM JST

AmericanForeigner at the first comment is the only one making any sense. I guess the other posters do not ride Tokyo subways to work every day like me. It is a living hell in the morning and sours my day. Gosh help us if one train goes out of service meaning that the next train will be shoved to 200% capacity. This happens regularly. Again, if you don't have job and just ride during off-peak to visit a girl friend in Roppongi maybe it is acceptable.

Vernie Jefferies at Jan. 18, 2012 - 09:26PM JST

Having the trains run 24 hours is a good idea, but I am glad they shut them down for maintenance. I rather have them work on trains and the tracks in the off hours instead of the whole system shutting down in the middle of the day.

tmarie at Jan. 18, 2012 - 10:24PM JST

**Is it so difficult to move one's behind up a little, when one knows full well one is taking up two seats? **

What gets me are the princesses that take up the seat for their bag/bags. No idea how much of them I have sat on one and then looked at the owner and sighed. Get your bags off the seat. There is space above if you can't manage them all on your lap!

I also have no problems with sitting on people's jackets or "accidentally" hitting some guys wide spread legs so they get the hint to move their butts over. I manage to get my fat foreign butt into the seat, so can they.

ExportExpert at Jan. 19, 2012 - 12:11AM JST

Excellent sevice, clean, reliable, punctual, efficient, comfortable, crime free, crime free, crime free and crime free. FANTASTIC only wish there were trains through the night, even if just one per hour after midnight untill say 5.30am or so.

ppokkiya at Jan. 19, 2012 - 06:32AM JST

After riding Chicago trains most of my life, I have yet to encounter a problem with Japanese trains worse than what I had back home.

JeffLee at Jan. 19, 2012 - 07:58AM JST

@2020hindsights: "Actually, (Singapore) is not the best because it doesn't cover half the city."

Singapore is also an island and a country, which includes beaches, smaller islanders and a tropical rainforest. Downtown Singapore is well covered. How many of Tokyo's subway lines run through Okutama?

nigelboy at Jan. 19, 2012 - 08:19AM JST


With all due respect, the link I gave which was compiled by MILT clearly indicates that on average, people use the trains significantly more in 6 pm versus that of 10 pm. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that maybe there exists a surge in passengers in certain lines between certain stations during 10 pm but I can for certain assume that when the train passes these stations, (I.e. Ueno, Shinjuku) there is a significant drop in the number of passengers. Hence, there is absolutely no need to increase the frequency when the majority of the time, the train is not that crowded.

papigiulio at Jan. 19, 2012 - 08:53AM JST

One of the best in the world period. You can complain all you want about times and ladies only cars, but the train gets me where im going and very punctual. Plus the connection between lines is simply superb. Of course theres off days as well, but all in all superb.

2020hindsights at Jan. 19, 2012 - 09:41AM JST


Singapore is also an island and a country, which includes beaches, smaller islanders and a tropical rainforest. Downtown Singapore is well covered. How many of Tokyo's subway lines run through Okutama?

You can compare Singapore with Tokyo as a city. Major parts of the city are not at all covered by the subway. I know because my company's Singapore office doesn't have a subway stop. Have to get a cab.

BTW JR services Okutama quite nicely. But it is not a good comparison. Okutama isn't a major city.

Akula at Jan. 19, 2012 - 09:47AM JST

Would like to see the Toei and Tokyo Metro systems combined at some point. Some stations could do with some renovation work, but other than that the system is very good, if crowded in the morning.

From the sounds of things, they are more or less done building new lines, so priority from here should be to improve the older lines and put up the barriers at all stations.

Ivan Coughanoffalot at Jan. 19, 2012 - 10:16AM JST

Another aspect of the subway system which I think could be improved is pretty simple. Put some soap in the lavatories in stations. I can't understand why a supposedly developed nation, which can install infra-red beams to detect when you've finished your wee, can't permit users basic hygiene afterwards. The amount of bacteria on every handrail must be phenomenal.

Stonecoldsoba at Jan. 19, 2012 - 06:47PM JST

I too would like a 24 hour timetable but, as Vernie pointed out, regular maintenance work such as replacing worn out rails is carried out between the last train at night and the first train in the morning.


. crime free, crime free, crime free and crime free.

You haven't heard about the groping, then?

My complaint is that the trains are over-heated in winter and over-cooled in summer. It amazes me that in a country with such widespread everyday application of modern technology, the climate control systems in trains seem to have only three settings: heating full blast, off, and cooling full blast.

Another improvement I would suggest is that the toilet cubicles should be fitted with high sensitivity smoke detectors finely tuned to tobacco smoke and linked to industrial strength sprinklers.

mrkobayashi at Jan. 22, 2012 - 11:07AM JST

ivan, all of the subway stations I use have soap dispensers. Which line do you use?

ThonTaddeo at Jan. 23, 2012 - 10:42PM JST

So much to like about Japan's subways. I ride them in Tokyo, where they're reasonably cheap compared to other cities. The 190-yen mid-range Metro ticket is a fantastic deal!

You have to like the ability to buy multiple-trip tickets for any amount, and then use them wherever you like. The JR only lets you buy those tickets for a specific station to another specific station, and if you go one station longer, they charge you as if you'd gotten off the train and then back on; effectively double the fare if your ride is short. Contrast that with the excellent Tokyo Metro where if you ride longer than the value of your ticket, you just pay the difference when you get off.

There's very little to complain about, but these things stick out:

Excessive heat. If you're going to do the "Cool Biz" thing and under-air-condition in the summer, how about not over-heating the train in winter?

Sanity-eroding announcements. We don't need to be reminded to keep our hands on the handrail when riding the escalator; we don't need to be reminded to be careful if we have children with us. One of my stations even does out of its way to have a recorded voice reminding us that this escalator goes slightly faster than an average one!

Having your ears bombarded by this garbage, particularly in the off-hours when there's no other noise to drown it out, drives me crazy. Just stay quiet and limit announcements to the essentials. Come to think of it, because of all the meaningless announcements, it's easy to just tune it out. So when you get to a station and the doors open, you've missed the name of the station because it was in with all the other clutter. How about announcing the name of the current station immediately after the doors open?

The Tokyo Metro has the sense to have many ticket gates, unlike the Toei lines (looking at you, Oedo line) where they compound the extreme depth of the station (which can't be helped, really) with greater inconvenience in only providing one ticket gate, forcing you to enter the station perhaps directly above the platform, but you have to walk all the way to the gate and then double back once underground. Way too much walking in those stations.

Serrano at Jan. 23, 2012 - 11:16PM JST

Get the barriers installed on all the platforms where they're not installed yet already!

Increase frequency of the trains so that more people can sit than have to stand, then re-do the interiors of the trains so that adults can sit without squeezing against each other.

Category: Forex

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