Monday, November 7, 2016

Postcard from Japan: Going to Azabu-Juban, Part One - Friday, November 4, 2016

My mother-in-law's apartment building with her place on
the second floor with the two sets of sliding doors
on the left on the balcony.  So I turn around and
head down the street to the station, two block away.

My friend, Caroline Latham, introduced me to her friend, Amy Katoh (online through emails), who owns and runs a store called Blue and White.  Today I'm finally going to make the trip to meet Amy as we arranged this would be a good day for her to see me at about 2-ish this afternoon.

I'm headed down this street to the station.
I've decided to chronicle my trip to Azabu-Juban so that you can see how complicated the train and subway system is but also how it's possible to get anywhere in Japan by walking, taking the bus, train, subway, or car or taxi.  Knowing how to read Japanese basic phonetic alphabet of hiragana can be so very helpful (along with katakana in which foreign words, mostly English, are written like my name and the word for bread from French, pan).  In preparing for the 2020 Olympics, there are signs in English/roman letters at every station.  Also, many businesses and shops love to use the English alphabet to spell out their names, sometimes with unintended hilarity like "Get Sport" for a sports shop.

I round the corner and ahead is the street in
front of the station.  To the right is Seiyu
Department (my daily hangou).  Look
closely and you can see McDonald's ahead.
Today's trip will truly be an adventure.  Amy has sent me a trip link with suggestions of how to get to her station, Azabu-Juban (takes me days to be able to say this name...).  It has four suggested routes which is about three too many.

Almost everyone takes the elevator to the
elevator to the 3rd floor station rather
than taking the big long stairway up.
The sign above indicates that it's the
Narimasu Station.  Stores abound with
food to take home or eat for lunch at
work; also like a US drugstore that
has everything you need but forgot to take
with you today.
I apologize ahead of time for a lot of fuzzy and out-of-focus pictures. THIS IS A MOVING TRAVEL ADVENTURE!  Aso, because I'm gaijin (foreigner) I can take pictures of all sorts of things and people without being rude.  I think they expect us to be odd.

This is where you buy your ticket.  I have loaded a special
trip card with yen so I don't have to buy a ticket each time.
I don' have to buy a ticket each time because my mother-in-law has given me her train/subway debit card which I have loaded with yen.  I just slap the card on the turn-style reader and the total amount on the card displays.  When I go through the turn-style at the end in Ikebukuro (leaving from Tobu Tojyo line), I'll slap the debit card on the reader again and it will display how much the trip cost (247 yen) and the total amount left.

Down the stairs to the subway.
But, I've decided to take the subway today instead of the train, so I pass through the station, out the other side into a plaza, walk down the straight and go down stairs to the subway.

Down the escalator to the subway.
There's also more stairs and an escalator which I take to save my left knee.  There will be a lot more stairs to come.

Then more stairs to the actual subway platform.

This map above the stairs shows the two subway lines
that go through Narimasu:  Yurakucho and
My mother-in-law mentioned that, yes, the Yurakucho Line that the trip reader had suggested is the subway line that goes through Narimasu.  It wasn't until I returned home that evening that she realized she'd forgotten to mention that there was also the Fukutoshin Line.... these two are the same line for a number of stations, then the "F" line takes over.  So....
Inside the subway car, you can see the station signs so
you know where you are, where you've been and
most importantly, what the next station will be.  I'm
going to Ikebukuro.

I've got to go back to Ikebukuro...
I realize at some point that the station names don' agree with my map I'm holding.  The Yurakucho line has changed to the Fukutoshin line and is headed somewhere else.  So, I get off, go to the other side of the platform, get on the next train going back to the last station where I can change to the correct train.

Back up the escalator to take Yurakucho Line again.
I've got to go back to Ikebukuro and get on the Yurakucho line.  So back up the escalator.

And there's always a McD's on hand.
or a French bread bakery.
Namboku Line and Oeda Line converge at Iidabashi.
I've actually gone to Iidabashi where the Namboku Line and the Oeda Line converge.  I have to decide which one to take because both on one of the suggested trains on the Jorudan trip reader.

I've decided to take the Namboku Line so it's down the stairs following the ever-important arrow.

And down more stairs.

We;re at Iidabashi (in red) and Azabu-Juban is off to the left,
six stations away, under the big 6 so Track 6.
The platform map helps a lot to decide which side of the platform to be on.  When I get down to the platform, I'm looking at two pillars with vertical signs so that I can decide which track to use.  A Japanese woman sees me with my map in hand and scowling, I guess, at the pillars and asks if she can help.  She leads me to the sign that was hiding in plain sight in front of me and it displays where we are in red and, as I've told her I'm going to Azabu-Juban, she points to that station.  On that side of the sign is a big 6 indicating that I should be on the left side for Track 6.  A big sigh of relief and a grateful "Doumo arigatou gozaimasu. Shitsurei shimasu."

There are subway platform doors at many stations now to remove the possibility of people being pushed onto the tracks or falling in...

Also the subway and train platforms and streets all have these long yellow bumpy streets to guide the blind.  They're very difficult to walk on and difficult not to step onto but totally necessary.

Also the signs to not rush or run for the trains are  at every platform.  People still do.  You want to be careful not to get your fingers or hand caught in the doors...

Evidently I decided not to take the Namboku Line since Amy Katoh's final directions were to come out Exit 7 from the Oeda Line.  So, I had changed to the Oeda Line, gone through those stops, was off the subway and following those arrows for Exit 7.  I warn you here.  It's a long way to Exit 7.

More arrows to follow for Exit 7 at Azabu-Juban.

And more.  Down a really long corridor.

Closer to the end.  Another diverging sign for Exit 7.

And another sign more specifically this time just for Exit 7.  Will we see the light of day soon?

Down the escalator to Exit 7.
So down the escalator to Exit 7.

Another sign at the top of the escalator for Exit 7.

Another escalator down.
Down another set of escalators....

And down a long corridor.
And down a long corridor.

Wait a minute.  Now it's up an escalator after going down, down, down escalators...

And up.

And up.

Oh, God.  There's light at the end of the tunnel!  Thank you, God!

Finally, light and the street at Exit 7.

I'm going to end now since I'm exhausted.  More on Part 2 and meeting Amy Katoh and visiting Blue & White.

And up another escalator after having
gone down, down, down escalators....
And up
And up again on another escalator.
Light! and we're at the end of Exit 7
at Azabu-Juban!

No comments:

Post a Comment