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How to Use Trains in Tokyo

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Riding a train or subway in a city like Tokyo can be a bit overwhelming a little confusing. But don’t worry, you’ll get used to it quickly. This article contains information and Japanese words and phrases that should help you get around Tokyo easier.

If you are planning to use a train in Japan, you should definitely get a copy of train map. You can download one here. Tokyo train lines basically consist of two groups. The Tokyo Metro which consists of the subway lines (地下鉄, Chikatetsu) and JR lines which usually run above the ground. If you are staying in Tokyo for a while, I highly recommend that you get a returnable prepaid fare card (SUICA or PASMO) which is available at most of stations with 500yen deposit. This makes traveling using the train much easier because you don’t need to figure out the right ticket to purchase. Wherever you go, the fare will be automatically withdrawn from your card at the entrance gate and exit gate(改札、Kaisatu) of each station.

If you have a IPhone or any other mobile devices, you can also download an application for transfer (乗り換え、Norikae).  It will usually tell you a couple of the fastest and cheapest options to get to where you want to go. All you have to do is enter the starting and ending stations. Even Japanese people use their cellphones on daily basis to check train times and find the best routes.

When you transfer from one train to another there will be a number of signs with colors.  Each line has its own color, so find your line’s color and follow the signs.

For those who never used train or subway, these are the things you need to do. 😉

1. Buy a ticket to the station you want to go to, or charge your PASMO or SUICA. 切符を買うか、カードをチャージする。

2. Find where the entrance to the line you want to use is. 改札を見つける。

3. Put your ticket in the electronic gate or scan your charged PASMO or SUICA on it, then go through the gate. 改札を通る。

4. Go to the platform. Make sure you are at the right one because there are usually trains go different directions. 何番線かを確かめる。

5. Get on the train.電車に乗る。

6. Get off the train at your station. If you need to transfer, go to the different platform.  電車を降り、乗り換える。

7. Go through the gate to get out of the line. 改札を出る。

8. Once you are there, find the exit that’s desirably close to where you want to go to. 出口を見つける。

There are usually several exits for each station, especially for a big one like 東京駅(Tokyo eki)、新宿駅(Shinjyuku eki)、or 池袋駅(Ikebukuro eki). If you are meeting someone at a station, make sure which exit or gate you going. If you are lost, find a station attendant(駅員さん、ekiinsan)and ask for help.

Here are some useful Japanese phrases you can use at a station.

  • ○○駅に行きたいのですが、行き方を教えて下さい。(○○eki ni ikitainodesuga, ikikata wo oshietekudasai.) I would like to go to ○○station. Will you tell me how to get there?
  • どこで乗り換えたらいいですか?(Doko de norikaetara iidesuka?) Where should I transfer?
  • 何線に乗ればいいですか?(Nanisen ni noreba iidesuka?) Which line should I take?
  • 何番線に行けばいいですか?(Nanbansen ni ikeba iidesuka?) Which platform should I go to?
  • ○○に行きたいのですが、一番近い出口はどこですか?(○○ni ikitainodesuga, ichiban chikai deguchi wa dokodesuka?) I would like to go to ○○. Please tell me the closest exit.
  • ○○はどこですか?(○○ha dokodesuka?) Where is ○○?

Japanese Words

電車(でんしゃ, Densha) – train

駅(えき, Eki) – station

地下鉄(ちかてつ, Chikatetsu) – subway

JR線(ジェーアールせん, JR sen) – JR Line

改札(かいさつ, Kaisatsu) – an entrance or exit gate

出口(でぐち, Deguchi) – an exit

乗り換え(のりかえ, Norikae) – to transfer line

切符(きっぷ, Kippu) – fare ticket

駅員,駅員さん(えきいん, Ekiin/えきいんさん, Ekiin san) – a train station attendant

ホーム(ほーむ, Hoomu) – platform

快速(かいそく, Kaisoku) – rapid train

準急(じゅんきゅう, Jyunkyuu) – sub rapid train

各駅停車(かくえきていしゃ, Kakueki teisha) – train that stops every station

○○線(○○せん, ○○sen) – line of train

 

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Life of the サラリーマン?!

Japanese salary man

I recently found this movie on YouTube, and thought I should share it with you. It’s only a 30 sec video, but I think you can see a lot of Japanese culture of  the so-called サラリーマン(salary man).

I found it very funny and true. This video shows how a lot of Japanese men live their life.

First, they are expected to graduate a decent school and get a job, get married and have a baby. But, did you realize that all he did after his marriage was commuting in a 満員電車(a completely packed train), working, and drinking? And many losing their hair… 🙁 Many business men go out to drink till they throw up on the street or even in subway to forget about the work and stress.

It is slowly changing but many Japanese companies are still strong on 終身雇用(しゅうしんこよう) which means to work in one company for your whole life. To get promoted to higher positions 出世(しゅっせ), it is very important to have good relationship with your superiors, 先輩(せんぱい), which often also means social obligations.  So, if you are asked to go out to drink after work by your superiors, you “have” to go.  We call this relationship building with your superiors 付き合い(つきあい).  Building a good relationship with your customers is often based on drinking as well, which is called 接待(せったい). Many corporate men have to be good at 付き合い and 接待 to financially support themselves and their family, which often makes them focus on their work much more than their family.

Japanese Words List

サラリーマン (sararii man) – men working for a corporate company.

満員電車(まんいんでんしゃ、manin densha) – a completely packed train

会社 (かいしゃ、kaisha) – a company

終身雇用(しゅうしんこよう、shuushin koyou) – To  work for one company until retirement

先輩 (せんぱい、senpai) – superiors in your school or company

付き合い (つきあい、tsukiai) – social/business acquaintance

接待 (せったい、settai) – business reception

飲みに行く (のみにいく、nominiiku) – To go out to drink

 

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Firework Season in Japan!

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Summer is the season of full of festivals and events in Japan. One of the most popular events is 花火大会 (fireworks display).  Each prefecture and city has their own local fireworks displays. Local people absolutely love the excitement of it!

I used to live in a city called Adachi-ku(足立区), a prefecture in Tokyo with one of the largest fireworks shows in the Kantou area! When I lived in Tokyo I attended this event every year with my family. My family would go by bike since there was no place to park due to the number of people, and brought お弁当 (food stuffed in boxes).  This year (sadly I wasn’t able to go because I live in Okinawa now) they shot off 12,000 fireworks in the sky of Adachi-ku within a single hour. The other great thing is that this is done at the river called Arakawa(荒川), so there is nothing to block your site. The fireworks also reflect off of the water to light up the area even more. Here is the video from this year’s Adachi-ku Fireworks Display.

If you are in Japan this month, it will be a great experience to go see a fireworks display. You can search for upcoming fireworks by region or city here (It is a Japanese site ) Literally tens of thousands of people gather to see one big fireworks display, so I’d recommend that you go there early to find good spot ;-). You can bring your own food or you can enjoy different food from 出店 (でみせ、 food stands). Have fun!

Also, wearing 浴衣(Yukata) for Summer festivals like this is very common. Yukata is a summer cotton kimono for men, women, and children, and it is much easier to put on and less expensive than regular Kimono.

Japanese Words List

花火 (はなび, Hanabi) – fireworks

花火大会 (はなびたいかい, Hanabi taikai) – fireworks display

夏 (なつ, Natsu) – Summer

浴衣 (ゆかた, Yukata) – Summer cotton Kimono (Kimono=Japanese traditional clothing)

出店 (でみせ, Demise) – Food stands, street stalls

お弁当 (おべんとう, Obentou) – Lunch or food stuffed in a box

 

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Wedding Etiquette in Japan

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Have you ever attended a wedding in Japan?? I’ve just attended one in Tokyo last month for my friend. Everything was amazing, the location, the food, and the way they planned out the whole wedding! And most important, the bride and the groom looked very happy together 😀 But, did you know an average wedding in Japan costs almost 3,000,000yen (about $30,000)??

Japanese weddings are usually very formal, and they have some manners that guests should know.

In general, if you are invited to a wedding, you are supposed to bring ご祝儀(goshuugi). Goshuugi is gift cash for celebration that is inserted in a special envelop for the bride and the groom. If you are a friend of the bride and groom then you need to bring about 30,000 yen as a ご祝儀, and if you are family, it is around 100,000yen from one family. I know it is very expensive to attend one wedding!! So, you should really enjoy the special time for the marring couple!!

It is also important to be very careful with your outfit! For ladies, it is Not okay to wear white or all black because white is bride’s color and black is the color for funerals. Basically, guests are not supposed to stand out more than the bride. Dressing way too sexy or too casual is also a big no no.  When you are attending daytime weddings, you shouldn’t expose too much of your skin. For no sleeved dresses, you should have something to cover your shoulders. For men, formal suits with a white necktie is the usual look.

At the end of wedding, you will receive 引き出物(hikidemono), which is a gift from the couple in return. Nowadays, a gift catalog is very popular for 引き出物 so that you can chose what you really want.

It is important to note that Weddings can be very different depending on how the couples preferences, but these are the basic manners to know when attending a Japanese wedding party.

Japanese Words List

白い (shiroi) – white

黒い (kuroi) – black

色 (iro) – color

東京 (Toukyou) -Tokyo

結婚 (kekkon) – marriage

結婚式(kekkonshiki) – wedding

ご祝儀 (goshuugi) – gift cash for celebration

引き出物 (hikidemono) – a gift guests receive at a wedding

新郎・新婦 (shinrou, shimpu) – a groom and a bride

 

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Orion Beer Festival 09

Hi, guys! My name is Eri and I’ll be writing about Japanese culture, events in Japan, and also answering questions about Japanese! I’ll also be creating Japanese Language videos with Nick! Hope you’ll enjoy them! ヨロシク〜 😉

Summer is the busiest season for Miyakojima. (Miyakojima is a small sub-tropical island of Okinawa. It is located about half way between Mainland of Okinawa and Taiwan.)

We get the largest number of tourists around this time of the year, the kids are out of school, and yes, lots of events to go to!! 🙂 Yesterday, Nick and I attended the Orion Beer Festival here in Miyakojima. Orion Beer is Okinawa’s most famous beer company, and they hold this festival every year.I must say, people here looooooove to get together and DRINK!! It seems the entire island comes to this festival and enjoys time with family and friends.

The festival had several live performances including sanshin, taiko, and more modern music as well. And of course, beer!

*a list of Japanese vocabulary with English translations can be found at the bottom of the page.

Okinawan Drum Dancer

Okinawan Drum Dance (琉球太鼓:Ryukyu Daiko)

The type of music used for Okinawan Drum Dance is called “エイサー”. It is a traditional Okinawan music for 盆踊り(Bonodori).

Its choreography is inspired from Karate moves. Karate was originally founded in Okinawa.

I love Ryukyu Daiko!  It is かっこいい (kakkoii)!

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a local band called “Kagihana Band”

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Kampai (カンパイ!)with Orion Campaign Girls

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A local band called “Harvesta” performed a type of reggae rap.

And, Today’s special Live performed by BENI. She does TV Commercials for Orion’s.

Japanese Words List

ビール – Beer

カンパイ(乾杯)- Cheers

かっこいい – Looks cool!

盆踊り-ぼんおどり- Japanese traditional grouped dance for Summer time

 

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Miyakojima Matsuri (Japanese Festival)

Matsuri (祭り)is the Japanese word for festival, and here in Miyajima (a small island near Okinawa) there are a lot of them. Miyako matsuri is a matsuri held for the celebration of summer and to officially acknowledge the new “Miss Miyako”.  There is also a carrying of an omikoshi (a portable shrine carried on the shoulder of a group of participants) as well as a tsunahiki (tug-o-war). I participated in the tsunahiki and my hands are still sore. We unfortunately lost 1-2. Once the event is over everyone scrambles to cut up the rope and take some home. The rope is considered good luck, regardless of whether you won or lost. If you are in Japan and have a chance to take part in a festival, go for it. They are a lot of fun. Here are some of the pictures from the event.

Hula girls in Miyakojima

Hula girls in Miyakojima

carrying the shrine

Carrying the shrine

Miss Miyako

Miss Miyako

Japanese tug of war

Japanese tug o war

more tug of war shots

Anoher tsunahiki shot

And lastly, here is a video from one of the pulls

Japanese Words List

  • Festival-まつり
  • Portable Shrine-おみこし
  • Tug-o-war-つなひき
 

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