Tokyo is huge any way you measure; one of the world’s largest cities by population and not built up that high, so it sprawls forever across the Kantō plain. Even the city’s core, which I would roughly say is everything inside the Yamanote JR Line or walkable from one of its stations, is pretty vast. Most times, though, you don’t notice because everywhere you go, you go by train, often underground or with not much of a view.

It works astoundingly well; not only can you get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time, with only a little practice you can learn to estimate pretty well and reliably show up for a meeting on time.

Two levels of traffic in Tokyo

The planners who plan all this, and the managers who keep it running, and the engineers who fix it when it breaks; all of these people, whom I expect are entirely unknown, ought by any sane standard to be heroes of the Japanese nation. Their accomplishments, I think, are unequaled anywhere in the world.

I’d really, really love to learn about their IT set-up.


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From: Mark (Jun 16 2007, at 03:16)

There are islands off the coast that take an entire day to reach, by boat (Chichijima, for instance). There's a 2,000-meter mountain on the western border (Kumotoriyama). Tokyo is really a state/prefecture, not a city.

The train system can be disorienting, because you develop a train sense of geography. Your sense of north and south can be reversed. You can live here for years and not realize that two places you often go that seem far away and require a couple of transfers are actually a short walk apart. Switching from the trains to a scooter for a while really opened my eyes.


From: Eugene (Jun 16 2007, at 03:32)

Tokyo's trains are one thing I miss about Japan. They're so efficient and convenient that I only wish we had something like them back home.


From: Oliver (Jun 16 2007, at 07:04)

I am pretty sure they are running Densha de Go! on a PS3 Beowulf [sic].


From: marcus (Jun 16 2007, at 13:00)

That photo, oddly enough, just made me homesick. Six years there was enough to still make me reimaginine southwest U.S. cities as more efficient with just a few lessons in stacking roads and rails from Tokyo. There's a megacity that might just work post-combustion-automobile.


From: Tim (Jun 16 2007, at 17:16)

(not for public embarassment, but quality improvement)

I believe you mean "Kantō plain" rather thant "Kantō plane". "Plain" is the geographic feature, as opposed to the mathematical, geometrical one.


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