I write this at about 200 mph as scenery flies past my window on the Shinkansen (or "bullet train"). We just passed by Mount Fuji, and watching it while the sun set by it was one of the most beautiful moments on this trip so far.
The Shinkansen is fast, but the energy around the train is rather slow and calm compared to the anxiety-filled and packed trains within Tokyo. For one, there are less people on the train than a typical subway in Tokyo at any time of the day. Another factor is seating. In intercity rides around Tokyo, lucky passengers can find a seat around the perimeter of the car and the rest are standing, packed together as needed. On some monorails and longer routes, like one of our trains to Fukushima, seats face each other for a more casual social atmosphere—although sometimes this has standing patrons too. But on the Shinkansen, seats are organized in rows like on a plane. At least in our car, no one had to stand and we had seats to spare. We had leg space too, which was such a luxury. The calmness I felt on this ride came largely from having this reserved space.
My first blog post discussed how train stations in Tokyo make use of their land for retail space, and places like Tokyo Station have entire streets within them. Further from the city, stations are less complex. When we arrived in Fukushima prefecture, our station was just a roof to cover some standing space along with some Suica card readers. At these stations there's less options for where to go—which for me, a tourist, meant less of an information overload. I could imagine those living in more rural regions like this may be limited by this, or choose other forms of transportation like cars or buses.
I was able to experience other forms of transit after getting off the Shinkansen at Kyoto for our next few days of this travel leg. Kyoto is a beautiful, mountainous region that is my favorite area so far. In this new megaregion, I found that getting around was somewhat different from Tokyo. Attractions here are further apart, and I got around by bus and subway (about half each). Trains were notably older than the ones I rode on in Tokyo, and all had an old style of velvet seats.
Navigating by bus, I found, was similar to intercity trains since they were standing room and often packed, and each stop was announced by intercom so navigation was fairly simple. One difficulty however is that the bus stops are not centralized like in a station and it can be tricky here to find where to get on. We waited at one stop for awhile until a helpful shopkeeper kindly told us we were going in the wrong direction. Another difficulty of buses is from their classification as C transportation—they aren't removed from surrounding traffic, and it stopped frequently. Overall, due to comfort and efficiency I would usually choose a train over bus.
Tomorrow, we'll head off to Hiroshima by way of Shinkansen again. I've really enjoyed getting around this way and am already not looking forward to getting home to my car in suburban Atlanta.
Our group observed many differences between living conditions inside the Tokyo megaregion and in Fukushima, an area outside of the Tokyo megaregion that was damaged by the March 2011 earthquake. One of the most obvious differences between the two regions is their population densities. This results in the use of different sustainability methods to improve the living conditions of each region. In the Tokyo megaregion, the high population density means that it is difficult for power to be directly generated inside of the city. Instead, power is outsourced from other regions. For instance, the Fukushima Daiichi power plant was used to power the Tokyo megaregion before the March 2011 disaster. Areas such as Fukushima are instead used for power generation, since this generally require a large amount of open space. I saw many solar farms set up along the countryside, often right next to rice paddies to be used for food supply.
The Tokyo megaregion's population density makes cutting-edge, sustainable technologies a requirement to sustain so many people in such a small location.
In general, the Tokyo megaregion imports the raw materials from the external regions, such as Fukushima, to supply the region with resources that would otherwise be impossible to produce in such densely-population locations. On the other hand, the Tokyo megaregion is also a hub of technological activity, as we saw on the first week of our trip. Districts such as Akihabara sell all sorts of electronics and advanced materials. In many ways, Tokyo feeds on the supplies of the external, non-megaregion areas and is also the location in which the most advanced technologies are used. Likewise, the Tokyo transit system is also the most advanced, with the most easily accessible information system and most efficient vehicles to transport citizens to locations all around the city.
The Tokyo megaregion relies on the energy and material production from other areas inside and outside of Japan to function and produce goods at such an advanced level.
In Fukushima, we saw wide, empty regions and relatively few cars on the roads, a direct contrast to the Tokyo megaregion. The larger amount of area available means that Fukushima does not necessarily need to be on the cutting edge of sustainable transportation technologies; the larger area available allows for personal vehicles to be used without a tremendous amount of traffic congestion. The Shinkansen was the most advanced system of transit available in this region, and was particularly-suited for this area since important areas are farther apart, allowing the train to reach higher speeds.
Outside of the Tokyo megaregion, there is open land available for agricultural and energy use.
At Fukushima, we saw many workers in the exclusion zone cleaning and processing the contaminated soil, showing that the local government is committed to restoring Fukushima’s status. While the Fukushima disaster could have been handled better or even avoided together if not for the overconfidence and negligence of Tepco and the Japanese government, the local and national governments have made many changes since the disaster to make the society more resilient. Creating a separate government committee on safety, focusing more on renewable resources, and making new towns around the exclusion zone are all policy measures that the Japanese have taken to make Fukushima more resilient. Ultimately, Fukushima, a disaster-stricken area, represents a stark contrast to Tokyo and illustrates what can happen if a government is overconfident in its resilience. The March 2011 earthquake served as an example to the Japanese government that their current system of sustainability outside of the Tokyo megaregion would need to be improved to secure the livelihood of their citizens.
After traveling for the first time on a Shinkansen train this week, I have now experienced intercity travel in 3 parts of the world. I have traveled by train in Japan and Europe and I have taken buses or flown in the US. While traveling, I noticed a few similarities and differences in intercity travel among the three places.
First, I noticed that everyone on the train was extremely quiet. This lines up with what I experienced going from city to city on the euro rail or flying in planes across the US. It seems that on most long-distance public transportation, people tend to remain quiet out of respect for other travelers.
Another similarity I noticed was the speed with which we were moving. The Shinkansen moves incredibly fast, about 200 mph. This lines up with what I experienced in Europe moving between cities on the rail lines, as well as when I travel by plane in the US. However, this definitely does not line up with my experience travelling from Atlanta to New Orleans by bus. The buses move very slowly and often get stuck in traffic, so 200 mph is just impossible to achieve by intercity bus travel in the US.
A third similarity between European trains, Japanese trains, and American planes is timeliness of the service. All three of these modes of transportation rely on punctuality to function properly due to passengers needing to transfer and other trains or planes that need to use the gates. However, American buses differ in this aspect because they often can’t be quite so timely due to uncertainties of traffic conditions.
When we first rode the Shinkansen from Tokyo, I noticed how convenient it was that we could just go to Tokyo station and go to the Shinkansen tracks and find our train. There was no necessity to go to a separate station to get on the Shinkansen – we could do it in the same train station where we might take the Yamanote line. In Europe, the train system is also quite convenient in this way, but in the US, the different modes of travel – between inter- and intra-city travel – are very separated. If I want to take an intra-city bus, I can just find my nearest bus stop. But, if I want to take an inter-city bus, I need to find a bus station, which is usually pretty out of the way. If I want to take a plane, I need to drive to the airport. The US doesn’t have much of a train system, so that’s usually not even an option. The US lacks this convenience that the Japan rail system provides to customers by providing different services in one easily-accessible place.
One thing I did notice about the Shinkansen that I didn’t like as much as local trains was the system for communicating stops. On the Shinkansen we rode, the announcer only spoke in Japanese and did not provide an English translation. Also, the Shinkansen does not have screens on the walls detailing when and where the next stop will be, which the local train did. So, I personally felt more lost as to where we were while riding it. In contrast, in the US and Europe, it’s much easier for me to navigate details of my trip. However, this is only because in these places, information is almost always displayed in English, even if that’s not the local language. So, it is easier to understand the US and European system for me personally in this way.
Overall, I was extremely impressed by the Shinkansen. It moved incredibly fast and allowed us to have a smooth ride across half of Japan. The seats were very comfortable and gave plenty of leg room, so I was able to eat, relax, and nap while on the train comfortably. One thing that is nice about the Shinkansen is that it provides a very smooth and comfortable ride, whereas on buses or in planes in the US, the ride can often be uncomfortable and very bumpy. The Shinkansen ranks very high in my personal list of intercity travel that I have taken, and I have a feeling that no matter where I go in the world and what transportation I experience, it will always be at the top of my list.
Outside the Tokyo megaregion, the towns we pass on the trains are more spread out and less crowded. All the land is still used, but the houses are bigger, and they have land space to have solar farms. The use of renewable energy outside the megaregion is more common. Although I noticed some houses in the cities have solar panel roofs, but it’s less common. The use of renewable energy is more sustainable, but I bet it’s more difficult to implement in the cities where there’s less space.
The towns we pass/visit all have rice paddies. It’s an important economic resource and brings the community together. Okuma, for example, seemed like a close-knit town despite being evacuated from the disaster. I think the social community is stronger in rural Japan, as well as anywhere rural compared to a city. This strength helps the community be more sustainable; however, the towns are more homogenous, and this lack of diversity could be a setback in their communities. Their towns have existed for hundreds of years so far, so even though the lack of diversity doesn’t seem to affect their longevity it might be a hindrance in the globalizing world.
It is easier to get around in Tokyo, because of the complex metro system, but not really difficult in rural areas. We traveled around bus in Fukushima, which was nice because it was easy to stop and get out and look around. I noticed that at the Futaba high school the kids were walking or biking to school. I don’t think metros are needed in their towns because they are so small. The more personal transportation system helps sustain the community longer. Also biking and walking is physically healthier, which people do inside and outside cities.
I thought it was amazing how the community came together in Fukushima. Even though some people can’t or are afraid to come back, there are still people who returned. Our tour guide’s family has been there for 27 generations. Their family roots are so strong that he can’t leave it behind. Not only is each family resilient, the community is as a whole. People are still working to fix the land and the Futaba school is using student projects to revitalize the community. The closeness of the community and their willingness to persevere helps the Fukushima region sustain itself despite tragedy. The disaster could have been mitigated if better precautions were taken, but now that it has happened, I think they are handling the situation much better than if it had happened in the certain places in the US.
The journey from Tokyo to Fukushima, and then from Fukushima to Kyoto thru Tokyo was a long one but thanks to the JR company trains it was a comfortable one. Starting our trip in Tokyo, the center of one of the biggest mega-regions, gave me a false sense of Japan is like. It was very easy to get around, order food, and direct questions in English so it was an easy adjustment. I soon realized that most of the rest of Japan is not like that.
We started our journey to Fukushima at 6:30 am on June 3rd and got there around 10:15 am. The journey was easy to follow, as most Japanese transit journeys are, and took us up the Eastern coast of Japan. There was a noticeable change in the areas around the track as we went outside the Tokyo mega-region. We stopped seeing a lot of buildings and started seeing smaller houses and rice fields, it was a beautiful view. You could tell from looking out the train that most of the economy revolved around farming.
In Fukushima, seeing the effects that the 3.11 incident had on people and how it is still affecting them to this day was a humbling experience. I saw the resiliency of the Japanese people after seeing how much of the evacuated area they have already restored and how most people want to come back to their homes. One of the biggest things that I observed was that even though we were in small towns away from big cities, people still followed the trash separation seriously and everything was clean. Another nice thing I saw was that the high school students of the area learned about the sustainable development goals and were interested in turning them into a reality. The push towards renewable energy in the Fukushima also interested me. Currently, over 30% of Fukushima's energy comes from renewable sources and they plan to go 100% renewable energy by 2040.
From Fukushima we left to go to Kyoto around 11:30 am on June 4th. Our first line from Fukushima to Tokyo was delayed due to some error in the track. This delay was the first delay of any kind that I have experienced in Japan so far (and will most likely be the only). The line we took from Tokyo to Kyoto was a Shinkansen and rode extremely smoothly.
Looking at fields of rice through the window of the train while leaving Tokyo.
A poster of the Sustainable Development Goals in an alley in Kyoto.
A model of the town hall of Okuma inside the town hall. The town had an evacuation order for most of the past 8 years but it was recently lifted and the town is starting to go back to how it was before the 3.11 incident.
As we traveled outside of Tokyo and made our way to Fukushima, I could see notable differences in the landscapes from place to place. As would be expected when traveling away from a densely packed megaregion like Tokyo, the houses became a bit more spread out and I noticed more and more greenery. During one of our many train rides, I noticed a lot of rice paddies as well as more small, individual homes. Obviously, the ways of life of people within Tokyo and people further away would differ. It seemed that as we traveled further from the megaregion, there was a transformation from corporate business to agrarian lifestyles.
One thing I noticed that both the areas within Tokyo and outside the megaregion shared was that people take advantage of every square meter of arable land, whether for farming, building, or living. In Tokyo, the land was strategically planned to build numerous high-rise corporate offices, house popular shopping streets, or make space for parks. On the way to Fukushima, the land seemed to be taken up by either homes or farmland. In both cases, though, the land was strategically used so that people could take full advantage of the available land space.
Before arriving in Fukushima, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know a lot about the disaster there, because I was only in 5th grade when it occurred. I didn’t realize how bad it had been and how many people were displaced. I was shocked to learn that people living within a 20 km radius around the nuclear power plant had to evacuate. I didn’t realize that the scale of the disaster was so large, and that most people are still displaced and haven’t returned home yet because some areas are still in the red zone and others were opened as recently as this year. After learning all of this at the Tepco museum, I felt sadness and despair that this community had to suffer so much and I worried that they would never recover.
However, as we began to tour the exclusion zone later in the day, I was surprised at how many people I saw cleaning up buildings or working on the roadways. When we stopped at the abandoned nursing home to look over the Tepco power plant where the disaster took place, our tour guide who also works in the government told us there were still thousands of workers who continue to clean up and decommission the power plant.
Although this community suffered a terrible disaster, they are by no means giving up and abandoning their home. As we drove around Fukushima, our tour guide showed us the many places where renewable energy is beginning to grow in the form of wind turbines or solar farms. This is direct evidence of a community that is working to rebuild. After talking with our tour guides, a father of one of them, and students all from the area, I realized that people still care tremendously about their home and repairing it so that they can one day return. This gives me hope for the people of Fukushima, and I admire how strong and resilient the community is.
From the people of Fukushima, I learned a lot about how strong a community can be, and how much they can withstand and still want to return home. I believe that the Japanese collectivist culture enhances this resilience that I saw in Fukushima. It seems like Japan is not willing to forget about this community or leave them behind, so they continue to help clean up the area. I am impressed by how much effort is still being put in to rebuild this community and learned a lot about resilience from Fukushima.
Last Monday, our group was a funny and struggling sight; everyone was weighed down by 10 weeks worth of luggage through the dense subways of Tokyo. Many flights of steps later and a few short rail trips, we made it on a long express train out of the city to begin our travel leg. The scenery quickly changed as we left the densely-layered streets of Tokyo to rural rice paddies. Our exit from the Tokyo megaregion.
Sustainable living is a broad term that means the same general thing to all (high quality of life without sacrificing the quality of life for future generations), but looks different in different areas. For Tokyo, to sustain the high paced living and production of a city requires efficient intercity transit. Effective public transit, as discussed, decreases space on the road and encourages physical wellbeing among many other factors. Other factors for urban sustainable lifestyles include conserving living space and using energy efficient devices. Out in rural areas, sustainable living also includes an effective use of space and efficient transportation, but this looks different and is most often centered around agricultural productivity. I noticed a seemingly effective use of land outside my window through rice paddies taking up most of the available land.
That being said, watching from a train for sustainable living is like skimming a book—I can't really say what it's like to maintain a sustainable lifestyle in rural Japan. But like in all rural regions around the world, I noticed areas appearing more frugal with less resources that one would find in a city.
So far on this trip, our dialogue has been centered around how humans make personal or systemic decisions that influence the sustainability of a megaregion. But what if a tragedy occurs that is outside human control? In the case of Fukushima, how does a community sustain itself when the land has been destroyed by earthquake and tsunami, and the region now is actually uninhabitable due to its nuclear disaster? Sustainability requires resilience for the unpredictable. Our tour in the red zone was heartbreaking to see a place that is literally on pause from 2011. We looked inside classrooms and hospitals still filled with the things left behind during evacuation. For years, there was no way to live in those regions, period—sustainably or not.
But this community is resilient. In an article by the Guardian, the mayor of Okuma has returned to his city and reflects on the change happening. Although 60 percent of the city remains off-limits, people are returning where they can and rebuilding their homes of over twenty generations. And change is happening as renewable energy—solar panels and wind turbines—are starting to replace the land. In our visit to a school in the Fukushima prefecture, we discussed how collectivism increases this resilience, as people hold themselves accountable for the larger population's development. This is seen through education, as the school allows anyone of any age to visit and professionals are working with students on their capstone projects on sustainable living. This is different from the highly individualistic society of the United States. But, as we also discussed that day, other factors such as racial discrimination affect the ability of all communities to be resilient in disasters, as seen in Hurricane Katrina. Resilience, and sustainable development have their own challenges in every community. Fukushima still faces several challenges, such as increasing the value of its rice produced and reducing stigma around contamination.
Overall, my experience in Fukushima was incredibly moving and a true form of experiential education. I'm excited to continue this learning process this week as we travel across the country.
The trip through Fukushima was both a heartbreaker and a ray of hope. The destruction caused by the earthquake, tsunami waves, and nuclear disaster was daunting and the effect on the people who lived their and are still affected by this event is saddening. On a brighter side though, many actions have been taken by many groups focusing in on the sustainable development and recovery of the area in many different parts of Fukushima, hoping to make Fukushima an even more sustainable, healthy, and beautiful city then it once was.
While at Fukushima, we got the chance to observe many different things. First, we took a trip to the Tokyo Electrical Power Company (TEPCO) Decommissioning Archive Center to learn more about the disaster in Fukushima on March 11, 2011. There, they showed us videos and pictures giving us a background on the overview of what happened that day with the nuclear reactor and the amount of destruction to the surrounding area caused due to the explosions, and also the earthquake and tsunami beforehand. When we reached the exclusion zone, we came to learn that because of the nuclear explosion leaking harmful chemicals into the surrounding environment, much of the soil, water, and plant life was permanently damaged. With the soil in particular, it was mixed in with these foreign chemicals making it no longer able to sustain plant life, specifically locally grown crops. As this soil could not be fixed in its present state, the choice made was to completely remove the existing soil altogether and replace it with new soil from various places. Currently, there are about (probably more than) 19 million bags of contaminated soil across the exclusion zone. We also saw abandoned houses, nursing homes, fishing shops, and elementary schools that had either been abandoned or badly damaged since the catastrophe. It should be noted that while the nuclear explosion affected the environmental health of the area, the 10 and 15-meter-high tsunamis brought much of the physical devastation and damage to the community, sweeping away entire towns and most buildings within the coastal area near Fukushima. The sites we saw and the stories told to us seemed unimaginable, and the saddest part is that they were all true.
In relation to the resistance and recovery of the Fukushima area now, the residents and workers here are a tough and determined group to say the least. Continuous work is being done on the reactors to safely and efficiently clean up the area to successfully decommit the reactors from action. This work includes searching and removing chemical and physical debris from the site to limit harm to anyone, flushing out any reactive nuclear waste from the area to prevent any further combustion or accidents, and carefully removing the structures as harmful materials are removed to ensure a full clean-up of the zone. Other efforts like digging fields to hold the many bags of contaminated soil, creating solar panel fields across kilometers of land, and making more sustainable living conditions in houses, energy distribution, and natural resource convenience and efficiency are all ways the people of Fukushima are showing everyone that they will not put down by this disaster, and rather come back better and work harder to make Fukushima even better, and their work and attitudes are truly inspiring to an aspiring environmental engineer like myself.
On March 11, 2011, tragedy fell upon the community of Fukushima and still leaves its mark on the area and will continue to for possibly the next 30 plus years according to sustainability and clean-up officials we talked to on site. But this loss and displacement has not discouraged the people of Fukushima, as they are aiming to make the area completely sustainable, running on renewable energy, and even better and healthier than its past city. With this goal attained, hopefully this new development can welcome the refugees of the disaster back to their home where they can flourish and help in the goal of a healthy, sustainable Fukushima.
Having completed our crash course in the Tokyo transit system on day one of INTA 3232, Smart and Sustainable Megaregion, we moved on to a tour of JR East to learn its process of Research and Development. From what I've seen today, efforts towards making transportation more sustainable are much more systemically-focused in Japan, whereas the US sustainability is more often targeted towards flashy technology and still lags much behind in providing effective transit service.
To understand what it means to have an effective transit system, our lecture prefacing the field trip had us consider factors why we choose (or more commonly, not choose) to ride MARTA while at Tech. Our ideas fell under the seven demands for useful service:
It takes me where I want to go
It takes me when I want to go
It is a good use of my time
It is a good use of my money
I can trust it
It gives me freedom (to change my plans)
In my adventures the past few days, my personal seven demands for useful service have been fulfilled easily: I've been able to take a train to a stop within easy walking distance to my destination; I have never waited more than five minutes for a train; I've saved a lot by not having to Uber anywhere. The biggest thing for me is that I can get across central Tokyo in less than 30 minutes, which has allowed me to explore so much of this city in a jam-packed couple of days.
This is effective transit.
(at least from my personal experience)
Having this experience has made me realize what Atlanta could be with a better system. Personally, I could live at home if MARTA had a grid system within the perimeter, and the rush hour flow into and out of the city could be cut down immensely if rail options satisfied the demands of useful service.
All of this being said, effective transit can only truly be called that if it's also sustainable; it meets the demands of the three-legged stool model:
…be economically viable, environmentally conservative, and socially equitable
Our first transit tour (discussed in my previous entry) proved that JR East is economically viable; selling the land around the rail lines for retail brings in enough to make a profit sans government subsidies (as is the case in the US). This was also clear when we took the tour on Thursday through the sheer amount of funding for research, which is currently focused on the social and environmental development of transit. With one research center focused on environmental engineering, JR East has developed a rail system relying wholly on electricity (the US relies on gas when electric power is low). The company is also developing solar panel technology to be used in train stations. In the social realm, this JR East is designing Suica card readers that are shaped to accommodate people in wheelchairs, and they are also creating effective barriers to prevent people from jumping off the platform. Apart from what they're making, JR East is also focused on disaster prevention methods, testing out the strength of their concrete. As seen, a lot is being done to continually improve this already-developed system of transit.
In contrast, what we're seeing in the US is a lot of hype about Tesla, Uber, and Bird scooters, when none of them are actually reducing the amount of cars and emissions on the road. It makes me wonder why places like Atlanta aren't trying to grow their public transit system as their populations continue to grow, but apart from the politics around it, I think there are some distinct cultural reasons. We find value in private ownership so much in this country—in high school, owning a car can be a popularity status, and as an adult, owning luxury vehicles also show a higher status. Having to share transit with others—at least for now—is seen as lower class, whereas in Japan I've been able to see people of various wealth ride the train. In our country, a cultural shift may need to happen to fully bring about a major public transit system, used by all. Of course, this is an oversimplification, as our socio-economic and political landscape is much different than Japan. But after our tour of JR East, I believe this is the right direction of development.
The Tokyo transit system is an integral part of what allows the city to function the way it does. With a metro system that caters to around 8.5 million people daily, the most in the world, one would think the human experience would be the last feature in mind. However, the metro system is catered to insuring the passenger is comfortable and oriented. The Tokyo transit system is at the heart of Tokyo, and the human experience is at the heart of the transit system. Given the capacity of passengers, the cleanliness of the cars are fantastic. The cars and stations are kept in great condition. The first cart of some trains during non-peak hours is specifically reserved for women, pregnant women, elementary children, disabled, and elderly. The train cars are each air conditioned and adjusted to the amount of people detected after each stop. At the end of some of the stations, there is a blue light that is scientifically proven to elevate one’s mood. Suicide rates were reduced by 86% in stations were these blue lights were placed. There are also bird chirping noises, even when underground. The info graphics within the cars show where the exits are in comparison to the car you’re in to ensure you have the fastest exit. The features of the train station and the train have the passenger in mind.
Since these stations must be expansive and require multiple floors to house all of the lines traveling through, these stations have efficiently used the remainder of the land by commercializing the rest of the floors. Above the busiest stations, there is now even more of an incentive to come to these stations. With stations like Shinjuku and Tokyo, locals and tourists now flock to the stations for another purpose: retail shopping. Tokyo station caters to the infamous Ramen and Character Street whereas Shinjuku caters to multiple floors of department and boutique shops and food. While New York’s Grand Central Station has the Apple store, it does not compare to Shinjuku’s extensive retail floor plan. Since there are so many people moving through the station, it’s a great marketing strategy to have people walking through the hallways of its store. Not only is it a great marketing strategy for traveling passengers, it is a great strategy for the purpose of locating a mall.
If developers wanted to place a mall somewhere, why shouldn’t they look to placing it at a train system? If you want people to come to a mall, place it in a convenient location. The most convenient location is next to a train station. Train stations in Tokyo are highly regarded real estate. Office buildings will spring into the air wherever a train station is located. Development seems to have catered to the train stations. For instance, in Shinigawa, skyscrapers line the train station in all directions. At other stations, buildings surround all of the major train stations. The land surrounding the train stations is for offices and retail.
My last few days has been spent observing how Tokyo has created an expansive and effective transit system. For a city that has to move over 9 million people, its transit system needs to be effective and it certainly is. It certainly meets the elements of good transit system. Because of Tokyo’s comfortable and reliable transit system, millions of people are able to ride everyday and use the transit system as their main form of transportation.