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Car-free in Japan

by Admin on June 11, 2009

For the last few weeks I have been living and doing research in rural Japan. Japan is well known for high-speed rail, jam-packed commuter trains, and big, well-connected cities.

I am not living in a place with any of those things. Two years ago when I spent time outside of Tokyo, I was. It was a 5 minute walk to the nearest train station, with two more within 20 minutes of that. From there I could get practically anywhere. No need for a car. I never even had to use the bus save for one or two special trips.

Well, rural Japan is a bit different. Google Maps Japan defaults to route instructions for public transit, but most of the places I am going give a warning “no public transit to this location.” There is a train station about 10 minutes from here, as well as a tram station.

The tram will get you anywhere in town, but doesn’t go much outside of that. The train station, which is currently under construction for the forthcoming high-speed rail line, will take you to destinations 20 to 50 miles away.

Kind of a pain. That’s why more people have cars around here than other places in Japan. So what have I done to avoid renting a car to get around to all the places I’ve been going?

Lots of cycling. At 90-130 kilometers per day (when I’m travelling), this is quite a lot of cycling indeed. It may be a pain, but it has made the area a lot more accessible than it otherwise would have been, even without a car.

Coming soon: A cyclist’s guide to commuting in rural Japan.

Related posts:

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  2. High Speed Rail Connects Barcelona and Madrid
  3. Bike-commuting in Japan: 3 Approaches
  4. Mass Tram America: A Monorail on Steroids
  5. California Trains to Go High-Speed?
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carz July 30, 2009 at 6:06 pm

It’s a bit ironic, though, that Japan has the busiest traffic set-up in the world when they are the most popular country to practice Zen Nihilism and attack of the substance of the material.

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2 Admin July 31, 2009 at 12:42 am

Actually, the Buddhist tradition is much stronger in other counties, ie Burma, Vietnam, etc. Buddhist monks have big cars like everyone else :p

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