Remember the last time you took a train?
As a girl living in Southern California, riding a train (as well as other forms of public transportation) is a rare occasion for the average commuter like myself. There's options like the Metro or Amtrak, but the destinations are not as diverse or convenient as I wished them to be. Despite the fact that the U.S. has the largest railroad network in the world, the number of people who utilize it daily is lower than that of any other nation, such as Japan.
In Japan, trains are more commonly utilized as a source of transportation, unlike in Los Angeles, where the Friday afternoon madness on the I-405 makes every driver go insane. Approximately 17,000 miles of railroads make it easier and more affordable for citizens to efficiently travel to different parts of the country. As a matter of fact, it's usually more expensive to take the highways because of their tolls. Like the east coast, Japan offers a very convenient network of railroads that replaces a lot of the stress and hassle that comes with driving.
With my arrival to Japan, I had to take a train from the airport to the central prefecture of Gifu. As a girl raised in LA, taking the train was a thrilling experience.
The train that I took was a part of the Meitetsu railroad system, which is a railroad that runs through Nagoya, one of the top three urban cities in Japan. Thankfully, buying a ticket wasn't as mind-boggling as I imagined it to be. A one-way ticket cost a little over ten dollars. With that little piece of paper in hand, I went through the fare gate and entered a glass-paned hall that ultimately opened up to the train platforms.
After fifteen minutes of waiting, my train arrived at its platform. The doors slid open and piles of people shuffled through the narrow exits. Once the crowd cleared up, I walked outside onto the platform and entered one of the carts.
The inside of the train was very clean and almost empty, seating only a couple of passengers. Within the few commuters, there was an array of individuals using the train; businessmen awaiting to go home after a long working day to teens with their school uniforms looking out the windows, with their earphones plugged in to close off the rest of the world.
My train ride took about an hour and a half. During that time span, I mostly glimpsed out the window, admiring the alternating views of flourishing, green farmlands and tall, inner-city buildings. The contrasting sights that I was able to experience just from one train ride added to my further understanding of Japan's unique society and culture.
Who knows, public transportation may become the next big thing in CA, especially with the upcoming plans for the new bullet train to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles with one railroad by 2029. Our transportation system may start to look similar to the one of Harry Potter's.
If you really want to, listen to "Ticket to Ride" by The Beatles to get in the mood of taking a train.