Now just looking at the map gives me a headache so needless to say we were nervous to take the trains without someone showing us how! Zack's co-worker came through again, and took us out for a short day trip and taught us the ropes of the train!
I have one word for the first experience: Overwhelming! We walked up to the large train map, like the one above but only its in Japanese and has numbers by all the stations, and our guide showed us our destination. The number on the larger map (ill need to get a picture to show how crazy it is!) tells you the amount of Yen it costs to get to that station. Once you insert your Yen into the machine it spits out a very small ticket, this is when the real fun begins. You enter the train platform by getting your ticket punched in the machine and then wait on the correct platform. Since the trains criss-cross at so many locations you have to pay attention to the screens as they show English and Japanese. The first ride was nice and the cars were empty until we got to where we had to get on another line to get to our destination. We made the switch at the Tachikawa station, a pretty busy station!, and then we boarded an already packed train! Zack held Sawyer while I held the stroller, standing on a fast moving train is no joke so we switched off and on holding Sawyer until a seat freed up. We were seated next to an older lady who fanned us, our guide snapped this picture under the radar because you are not supposed to take pictures on the train!
Finally after a 20 min ride we reached our destination, Nakano. To get out of the station you must re-insert your ticket into the machine. If the doors stay open you paid enough, if they close you owe Yen and have to go to the counter to pay more. Since Zack loves Anime his co-worker knew just the place to take us that would give us train experience and some enjoyable shops to walk around, the Nakano Broadway mall!
After a few hours of enjoying all the collectible shops it was time to head back.
This proved to be another interesting ride as the train was PACKED!!! It was more holding of a tired, sweaty kid. They really do have no personal space issues here as we were armpit to armpit standing up on the way back. Finally we were able to stick Sawyer in his stroller and pulled into the corner of the train car to ride back after the Tachikawa stop.
It was a great day and I know how to use the trains now, yet I am still nervous to go out with just me and Sawyer as navigating the trains with a little one is not easy!