18 November, 2016

Photos of our city #4

Our city has one train line running through it called the Seibu Ikebukuro line. It is owned by a private company, Sebu Railway, and originates at Ikebukuro station, a large railway junction and city centre on the west of the metropolitan Tokyo area. As of 2013 Ikebukuro station has more than 910 million passengers go through there every year or about 2 ½ million a day, making it the third busiest station in the world (the other two busier ones are just down the line at Shinjuku and Shibuya), see this article. It is huge and I remember those early days: it took me a while to feel comfortable going through there on my own.
This is a photo of our city centre, where the train station is. It was taken as I walked home from school today. You can see again, the mixture of urban and rural.
The main Seibu Ikebukuro line extends westward from Ikebukuro through and beyond our city. It also has three branch lines (Toshima line, Seibu Yūrachō line, and Seibu Sayama line). Below is a diagram of the Seibu Ikebukuro line. Thankfully at all the stations in Japan the names of stations are written in English letters as well as Japanese, making it a lot easier for us foreigners.

People from this city rely quite heavily on the train line. From here, on trains, you can go east into Tokyo city to connect up with other lines or west a couple of stations to where there is a line running north and south. The other option is to catch a bus south to catch a train from a parallel line five kilometres south (Seibu Shinjuku line, owned by the same company) or seven kilometres south (Chuo "central" line which runs all the way to Tokyo station).

Here's a photo of the actual station. It was redeveloped a few years ago and the station precinct includes a number of shops including a favourite place of mine to meet people: Tullys coffee shop.

Here's a view of the station area from the west side as I rode home along one of our rivers the other day. We live on the east side of the station.

Catching a train in Tokyo isn't as simple as finding the right platform and hopping on the first train. Trains provide different services. Some stop at every station: locals. The rest have varying numbers of stops. The list is long: semi-express, commuter semi-express, rapid, commuter express, express, rapid express, and limited express. I know now that if I hop on an Express train at Ikebukuro to come back home, I need to change trains at the stop just before our city because expresses don't stop at Higashi Kurume. Often there is another train waiting (usually a local) for the express, so you just walk across the platform for your final life home. So convenient! This photo is of just that scenario on Monday: I'd hopped off the express (blue train) and was about to jump on the waiting local (yellow).

Here are a couple of diagram of the wider train network that I found. The first are the lines owned by the Seibu company.

The second, as you can see in its title, are the railway lines in Tokyo. Can you find our line here? Tokyo's train system is amazing, but also can be thoroughly confusing and quite intimidating at first.

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