You probably already know that Japan has one of the world’s best train networks – clean, efficient, punctual. It’s one of the things I love about Japan besides the awesome toilet seats. In Tokyo alone, over 40 million people a day (and a few adventurous cats) commute by train. That’s a lot of people. And with those kind of numbers, sometimes things happen that cause train delays or suspensions.
The most common ones are bad weather and passenger injury – a term which could mean anything from someone passing out on the train to someone jumping in front of one. Subway lines are more immune to weather conditions, but many of them have stations above ground which may affect services.
Trying to figure out what’s happening when your train suddenly stops moving can be tricky if you don’t read or speak Japanese. So what do you do? It probably sounds obvious, but when I first came to Japan I didn’t know this – you can get status updates from the train operator’s website. If things are not moving for more than 10 minutes, you’ll see an announcement posted up there.
Here’s where you can get updates for some of the major train lines in Tokyo:
- Tokyo Metro
- JR East
- Tokyu (Toyoko, Oimachi, Denentoshi, Meguro, Setagaya, Tamagawa, Ikegami and Kodomonokuni lines)
Unfortunately, except for JR East, they’re Japanese-only. No worries! If you have Google’s Chrome internet browser on your phone or tablet, just click the translate button that pops up. Or alternatively, copy and paste the text from the status box into Google Translate.
If you don’t have a mobile internet connection and are at a Tokyo Metro station, they have free public wifi, so you can try to connect from there. I highly recommend renting one of those portable wifi devices when you’re in Japan though, those things come in very handy, and not just for train status updates.
Images: ykanazawa1999, RachelH_
“Most phones in Japan have an early warning system that alerts you in the event of a strong earthquake. The alert is a chime that sounds like this:
So if you hear everyone’s phone in the train going off with this sound, grab on to something and listen for announcements on the PA system.
Some words you might hear:
- 遅延, chien (delay)
- 人身事故, jinshin jiko (passenger injury)
- 乗換, norikae (transfer)
- 地震, jishin (earthquake)”