The series continues! Today I’ll touch on three items related to safety and transportation.
More things I love about Japan….
6) The ability to leave bags somewhere and come back to find them there.
This is probably a terrible habit of mine. But when I go to the supermarket after work, I leave my computer outside. I’ll let it sit in my bike basket so I don’t have to carry it in the store. Or at the bus station, I’ll leave my purse on a bench while I go outside to use the vending machine. And every day, I leave my apartment door unlocked.
Each time I do it, I vow it’s the last time. And yet, each time, I return to find my belongings untouched. It’s really nice to live somewhere with almost no crime. Obviously, I would never do this in a big city. But in the Japanese inaka, I feel pretty comfortable that I won’t get robbed.
7) Feeling safe everywhere you go.
Again, crime is low here. So I feel safe walking down the streets at any time of night. I’ve yet to find myself in a neighborhood where I felt vulnerable.
All of this isn’t about paranoia. It’s about how the stress of all those things, which must be constantly on your mind in NYC, is completely eliminated! And that’s a nice way to live.
8) Convenient, clean, reliable transportation.
Man, I love the trains here. And the buses. And the planes. Traveling in Japan must be what travel was like 60 years ago in the West, when it was only for rich people.
Everyone raves about the shinkansen trains here. They are the best. Fast travel, comfortable seats, no security, and, of course, always on time. Plus you can plug in a laptop, enjoy a bento, and always have access to a clean bathroom.
Also, they’re so cool! Here’s me and Maureen last year, being really excited about riding the Kyushu Shinkansen on its first day! (remember the inauguration celebrations?)
Then you have the buses, which I take every day. There’s nothing really special about them, except that they always arrive within a few minutes of when they’re scheduled to, and you can usually get a double seat all to yourself. People aren’t big on squeezing into tightly-packed bus seats, which is nice.
Finally, the planes. Ahh, the planes. If you’re taking a domestic flight in Japan, you can show up 20 minutes before boarding. There’s rarely a line at the checkout counter, and someone will print your pass promptly. No need to fuss with annoying ticket machines. You don’t even have to show ID!
They’re strict about carry-on luggage, too, which I like. The X-ray machines are really small, so if the bag doesn’t fit through there, it’s going underneath the plane. You don’t have to wait ages for the people ahead of you to find their seats, nor do you have to fight for overhead space. Boarding takes about 15 minutes.
It’s all just very civilized and dignified, i.e. the opposite of plane travel in the States.