- By Touchline
Eight of the 48 matches in the 2019 Rugby World Cup are being played at “Tokyo (Ajinomoto) Stadium”, 25 kilometres west of the Imperial Palace. Tokyo, a metropolis of 14 million people, is the sixth largest city in the world. The city is serviced by an extensive metro-rail system, comprising both over and underground trains, with the map of routes and stations resembling the circuit board of a personal computer. There is order to the design, but to the foreign traveller, it is very complex.
The best way to get to Tokyo Stadium is on the Keio line, travelling to Nishi-Chofu station from Shinjuku station. World Cup travellers should be aware that Shinjuku station has 3.7 million commuters travelling through it every day. It has 36 platforms and over 200 entries/exits. Signs are in “romaji” (the roman alphabet), but there are no station announcements, unless you are on one of the many platforms awaiting the arrival of your train, in which case there will be many Japanese safety messages warning you to stand behind the yellow-line ahead of the arrival of each train which (on average), is every 2 to 3 minutes during peak-hours.
Earlier this month, “Touchline” was travelling by metro from Akihabara to Shinagawa in central Tokyo, a distance of around 14 kilometres at 5.00pm. A “Human Related Accident” stopped most metro services, including the train that Touchline was travelling on. A fellow Japanese commuter, unable to meet her brother as planned, provided helpful navigation to an alternative underground line that was still running, but was now catering for an unexpected influx of travellers unable to take their usual homeward route. Having secured one of the few seats on the next train, Touchline was initially amused to note that as the train progressed toward his destination, the train’s interior began to resemble the inside of a sardine-can, with literally all passengers cheek-to-cheek, (whether seated or standing). Touchline’s amusement swiftly changed to horror when at a subsequent stop, waiting passengers on the platform physically launched themselves into the compressed carriage from the platform. One woman was lifted off her feet and could not find the ground. She was in danger of serious physical harm before being rescued by a fellow passenger.
Having arrived at Shinagawa station, Touchline had to climb over and force his way through people to get off the train. It took 15 minutes to exit the station platform.
Touchline’s advice to Rugby World Cup travellers in Tokyo is simple. If possible, arrange travel to and from Tokyo Stadium with a Tour Operator or local guide, particularly if you plan to be drinking before or after attending a match. However, if using public transport, you need to plan your travel route carefully before you leave your accommodation, avoiding public transport in peak times. You will need to be patient and when in crowded areas, follow the direction and pace of the crowd – don’t make a scene, or eat or drink while walking, when using public transport. It is highly likely (if travelling without a Japanese guide) you will get lost, even in a railway station. If so, make your way to an electronic ticket gate where there will likely to be an English-speaking station official who will at least point you in the right direction!
In any event, do your best to avoid “Human Related Accidents”!