Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Never sleep in a Tokyo TAXI!!

In fact, never sleep in any metropolitan taxi.

Let me tell you the infamous public transport in Tokyo, the Tokyo subways.

Tokyo city has probably THE MOST extensive, complicated, mind boggling underground subway network I have ever seen, surpassing the complexity of that of London, Paris and Hong Kong.

What do I mean? Well, when I first arrived in Tokyo, taking the subways was the first option I go for every time I hit a big city, that includes the few cities I mentioned above.

I walked up to the ticket machine to make my purchase, in order to do that, I have to know where I wanted to go and which line I wanted to take. Three map showed on top of the row of ticketing machines.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Tokyo Metro.


And next to it, was the Tōkyū Tōyoko Line (which I found out later)


]And to its left, was the KEIO line (which I found out later too)


Now, combining SOME (not all) of the government lines and private lines, this is the concluding line of Tokyo Metro.


I mean WTF?!!!!!

I stood there in awe and probably scared a few locals with my dumbstruck expression, and continued to spend another half an hour, if not more, or so figuring how to reach my destination. Cause you see, too add salt to water, there is no ENGLISH on these boards!! How the bloody hell am I going to know what Roppongi looks like in Kanji?! (which later I found out is 六本木), and HOW, oh god tell me HOW, the bloody hell am I going to know WHERE THE HELL AM I??!!

There’re so many lines in Tokyo I’m sure you do not need a car to get around town or anywhere out of town but just look at these!! The monstrosity of this network!!

No one on land, everyone has gone underground.

The roads are so confusing, even the taxis here need satellite GPS navigation maps installed in their cars.


Now yesterday, I wanted to go to this very cool retarded place (which I soon found out) located somewhere off Tokyo city, according to a local, it is almost an hour from where I am.

So I went online and check. Okay fine, the place I went to was Hello Kitty Land. Fine, go, laugh! But who could resist, it’s the only place in the world where mouthless cat is a hero to kids everywhere, and they freakin build a theme park out of it!!

According to the net, I have to take a ride to Shinjuku, the major and most developed district of Tokyo and transfer to Keio line, take the train that heads towards Hashimoto and get off Keio Tama Center, Puroland is just 5 minutes from the station.

Easy peasy.

Even 5 year old kids can do this.

I mean, 5 year old kids who can read Japanese can do this.

If you think Tokyo Metro is confusing, take a look at the overall subway network of Tokyo!



See the black circle in the centre, that’s Tokyo Metro, yes, ONLY Tokyo Metro!!

I am supposed to get out of that circle and head west. In hell I know which stop in the west!! The English site never shows those stop names in Kanji!

I spend sometime analyzing the page and find out I am here.

The red circle

And I need get to here.

Shinjuku is in the blue circle

Okay fine, I know where I am and I know where I am heading. Now, which line am I suppose to take?

Red to Blue

I continue to analyze the page for a while, before…

Walking out of the building and call for a cab.

For illustration purpose only

Give me a break!! I can’t read Jap!!

Anyway, so I decide to take a cab. I mean, it’s rather near right? Right??

Taxi system in Tokyo is like this. The moment you put you delicate butt onto the back seat, 660 yen pops up on the meter bar, that’s RM20. And that will last for any 2 kilometres this fancy Nissan can bring you. Any additional 274 metres, it’s an additional 80 yen.

I am desperate. Shut up.

I hail down a taxi and hop onto it.


Taxis here are so cool, you don’t even need to open or close the door, it’s all manually controlled by the driver.

Keeping in mind, Roppongi to Shinjuku looks near to me, on the map. So in the back of my mind, it is reasonable to save myself that kind of trouble to squeeze myself among the busy crowd underground when I can be all comfortable on land.

I mention Shinjuku to the taxi driver to which he responded a ‘Hai’ (means Yes) and in 5 minutes, I doze off.

Comfort, my friends,

Has a price.

What seems like an 8 minute nap (I’m sure it is just 8 minutes). I wake up to see this!



I want to ask the driver to stop but realize we are in the middle of a high way (or looks like some roads with no sidewalks) and it is impossible to ask him to break the law and pull over.

Besides, how do you say stop in Japanese!!!

As these queries cross my mind, for a spilt second, yes… a spilt of a second, as in half a second!!

The meter just ‘magically’ goes up.


And up.


If only you are here to see my face, cold sweat popping out and no longer in comfort I am. In fact, it is the total opposite, I am sitting on the edge of my seat clenching my fists, and purse.

The taxi finally stops in front of the Shinjuku terminal where a large KEIO sign shows.

Keio Line, Tokyo

The meter?

3450 yen.

3450!!!! That’s a whooping RM120!!

RM120!!!!! For a 10 minute drive!

Next time I’m cycling.


Anyone lend me a bike?


  1. whoa...what a costly nap! RM120 for eight minutes...that sounds like something a hooker would say! I don't think even a lawyer charges that much! ;)

    Zul a.k.a. Snake Eater (Metal Gear Solid!)

  2. Erm...the big circle in the middle of your map is the JR Yamanote. So if you're near the Roppongi Subway stop (as in the red circle), you can take the Toei Oedo line to Shinjuku station (blue circle) where all the lines, subway, JR and private lines collide.

    They have english Tokyo Metro map/brochures in the information racks in the major stations and in the tourist information offices. Tokyo Metro also has Y710 day passes. Don't get that confused with JR which is the elevated trains like the Yamanote or the Chuo Line that cuts across the loop.

    And yeah, Tokyo cabs are hideously expensive!

  3. i'll walk. i'll bloody walk.

    thats like really really crazy man! when i scrolled down to the pic showing the whole subway line...i also gasped! i could imagine your face...hahahahah

    so....was hellokitty land worth the rm120 taxi ride?

  4. aiya nicole...i think u went to japan without really, i mean "really" researching on things.

    firstly, it is a MUST that you are able to speak basic japanese which includes hello, sorry, excuse me, stop, and all the other single sentences.and that include on how to read as well. esp when you're on the budget.(i think :) )

    secondly, Japanese cabs are known for their expensive fare(mayb just me :P), even japanese themselves consider taking taxis as a type of luxury. hence, most tourist and even among themselves, taking the train are the best way to travel around the city.

    thirdly, if u can't read and speak japanese, try asking the people around you politely. if i'm not mistaken, japanese are more than happy to help u as they are mostly polite and friendly people. (they like tourists)..

    however, i might be mistaken..cuz this are just some of the things i found out as i just might be going to Japan soon.( i hope end of next year :))

    anyhow, all the best and have fun

  5. the trains are crazy in tokyo. there are so many lines, so little time to learn. it took me one week, countless dumb questions just to get the very basic of the train rides in tokyo.

    just use the yamanote line to get around tokyo. learn to use the fare adjustment machine. it will help you a lot.

  6. hahaha

    it is oklar RM120 is nothing for you lar jiejie ..

    anyway .. do enjoy yourself in Japan ok ?

  7. How to say stop in Japan??


    phrase used by a lot of japanese movie... u know wat movie i meant la

  8. Nicole, I'm surprised the taxi driver allowed you to take so many photos of the taxi meter! He probably knows you're a tourist, but also want to take pictures of the meter??!

  9. poor thing... I heard about the expensive'ness of taking a cab... just didn't know that it would be that much. OUCH. *i can feel the pain too*

  10. come the gps suddenly can move from the right to the left side...weird lah...itt's two difrent taxis. bleh...

  11. wa so expensive! the most expensive cab i took in KL onli RM20+..

    120 divide by 8 multiply by 60..RM900 per hour!! wa saiz. XD

  12. You shouldn't get into a taxi in Japan... unless you've got too much in your wallet and nothing to buy. The trains are not that difficult to figure out. Trains were my only means of transportation in Tokyo. If you're interested

  13. lol u might as well walk there... but then again, u can probably get an english map and one with kanji then you can start comparing them... try some younger japanese, even that they cant speak, they will use sign language to make sure u hop off at the right station =p

  14. cool.... luckily KL is still very peaceful compare to Japan. about the taxi... i think i will sue those taxi drivers in Malaysia if they charge me RM30 for a ten minute trip.

  15. Now I wish I hadn't given away my BMX -its brakes cost more than the brakes on my Proton!

    If I ever go to Tokyo, I'm bringing over one of them foldable bikes which you can keep in your pocket.

    I hope you're not bankrupt by the time you get back.

    Nice post. Be safe.

  16. Poor Nicole...
    Yea I heard about the outrageous taxi fare in Japan, but sorry as I am you wasted those money, thanks for enlightening the rest of us!

  17. damn. the price is pathetic.. rm120 on a 10 minutes ride. that has gotta be some of the best paid job around.

  18. get yourself a English map and a Japaneses map then it's much more easy for you. During my stay in Japan I dun even dare to take a cab, just train and bus.

    few years back when I was in Japan they have Fare Adjustment machine where you only need to buy a small amount ticket and use the Fare Adjustment machine to determine how much you need to pay before you exit at your destination station. If no machine then you can approach the station master which is at the gate.

    But the cheapest way was buy the day pass.

  19. Map in English

  20. thats the thing about japan. i dont understand y they use japanese everywhere! i hv problems making phone calls when i was at the airport cos apparently everything is in japanese!!gosh.

  21. lol. and i thought msia's ktm was hard to understand.. WAKAKKAAKAA!! good luck!

  22. i like taking trains... but you just scare me away from japan's subway. hope you're enjoying your time there... swtz...

  23. when u decided to do free n easy in tokyo,u should have expected NOTHING IS CHEAP dun complain about the make a free n easy smooth and succesful u should do some homework at home b4 instead of doin ur homework at tokyo's internet cafe.research about the place u wanna go and learn some simple japanese words.To ask the taxi driver to ''Stop here'' is Koko de ii desu not YAMETE! stellix stop watching those movies

  24. Nic won't go bankrupt after coming back from Japan

    I am sure that her trip is sponsored by someone otherwise she won't spend that much :)

    Anyway it is true what mel w mentioned earlier you shd have done your homework before going to Japan rather than do it at the internet cafe (that also not cheap ok)

  25. TAKE THE TRAIN! thought you are an adventurer, save money type hun. come on now. Should know better!



  26. take the train and maybe if you are lucky, you will meet with "densha otaku"

  27. Dump that spiderweb drawing into garbage bin. Enough just to remember the destination. Asking around is still the best guide :)

  28. O_O

    the complicated...I think I'll get a headache just trying to understand it. Makes me appreciate our simple public transport more. :P

    RM120 for a cab ride?!?! '=_=

    Yeah...maybe a bike would be better but would you know the way?

    Look at the bright side, at least you can say "I'm in JAPAN!" :)

  29. zul: sob sob

    abraxis: haha... a bit too late for that

    sheon: hahahahaha.... hello kitty? erm.. so so

    jiahun: oo. thanks for the tips

    biggu: hahaha... yea... the experience is priceless

    Misha: wa... want to say like that meh... RM120 le.... T-T

    Stellix: -.-

    Eng Seng: i guess he was reluctant to tell me off, lol

    domhon: haha...

    Anon: i didnt take photo when i hop onto the taxi

    elie: haha... good pay

    Junkgirl: wow.. u travel a lot

    lasilasi: at the point, i dun have a map :(

    Kenny: haha.. yea

    Destickles: already bankrupt, lol

    anon: haha... glad i helped, i think

    Genova: yea... i wanna be a taxi driver, lol

    valcane: i will now :)

    r.a.s.p.b.e.r.r.i.e.s: me too! i went throught the same thing!

    Vivian: haha.... now we both know

    Teddy: haha... i was scared away too

    Mel W: meow.. @-@

    Anon: purrr

    hung: oi! haha... come japan larr

    anon: what is densha otaku

    whisperer: haha.. i did that too

    wimal: yea tell me about it.. thinking of getting a bike, lol

  30. That echoes to what you said: Everything in Japan is DAMN expensive!

  31. jiejie nic .. hahaha . jsut joking lar :)

    more photos please!!

  32. Don't you know that Taxi charges are the worst in Japan??

    Next time go Japan, do not take cab.

  33. cheap...

  34. my family stays in Tokyo. everytime when we go out we take d train which only cost like 300yen... TAKE THE TRAIN next time. Learn some japanese words

  35. You can get a map of the metro system from the hotel. It will have the romanized name (romaji) of the stations.

    I can't read chinese/japanese characters either and rely on the map heavily when travelling in the Tokyo Metro.

    Remember to drop by Harajuku station during the weekend (before 10am). That's where all the eccentric individual dressed up in goth, maid, or what have you gather to show-off. There is a Meiji Shrine nearby that is peaceful and nice too. If you are lucky (i was), you can witness a Japanese wedding ceremony there too. The bride will be painted all in white and wears a heavy kimono.

  36. 3 years in japan and never use taxi in tokyo! you really got guts!! i salute you!

  37. "too add salt to water"?

    "whooping" what? whooping cough?

  38. nicole huh dun 4get to get a yukata for urself.U will look wonderful in it XD and dun 4get to get some jap adult movies for me as souvenir lolzzz

  39. I guess me being able top read chinese helps in looking for those stations.

    Like the previous poster stated, there are english maps in most major station (Tokyo, Shinjuku, Akihabara, Harajuku, Shibuya). Just look for the tourist information counter.

    Here's a link too:

    Tokyo Train

  40. Haha..yaya shinkansen in Tokyo is really confusing. There are 49 lines ( maybe more now ) in Tokyo itself. ANy for every destination i.e from Minowa to Shinjuku there are different ways by either Local , Rapid or Express trains. each line would get u to yr destinations but the time difference would be big.

    But take Tokyo Central as the main point..but all 12 floors also veru confusing !!!! Best to take All WOmen Cabin in the train.....too many pervert Jap hands roamimg ...

  41. wow, thats a very expensive taxi ride... u went to Japan, I envy you! :)

  42. Taxi in japan is one of the most expensive transportation on Earth... @_@

    That's really hurt to the heart and pocket...

    try to get the JR pass and ride through the country next time!

  43. u didnt know taxi in japan is the most expensive in the world?

  44. The Tokyo transit system hurts my brain. My boyfriend thought I was a complete idiot with directions in Tokyo! :/ BUT! The Shinkansen is AMAZING and it's really easy to visit other (less complicated) parts of Japan by train. ^_^
    But hey if you have internet on your phone (and understand some Japanese) you can use the hyperdia to plot your trips. :)