As a tourist in Tokyo most people are pretty much limited to getting around on trains and subway, with the occasional use of taxis, trams and ferries. My dream of a zeppelin passenger service connecting Hakone, Odaiba (in Tokyo) and Odawara still hasn’t won the approval of the Japanese government! Actually though, there is also a pretty excellent bus service in the city, filling the gaps between hard to connect stations. For example, the most convenient way of getting from Shibuya to Roppongi, to major centers inside Tokyo and not far away there is no trains or subways and you’d have to do a lot of tricky detours to stay within the subway system to get from Shibuya to Roppongi, if it wasn’t for the excellent bus service! Things have become even more convenient in the last few years as you can now use your train passes on buses as well. In Tokyo’s tourist destination number one, Taito City (home of Asakusa, Kaminarimon, etc.) there is a loop bus system aimed exclusively at tourists, the Taito City Loop Bus, or Megurin for short. Consisting of small frequent buses on three interconnecting routes and tickets for 100 yen per ride or 300 yen for a day pass it’s easy and convenient for local tourists to travel around Taito, and especially the route connecting Ueno station with Asakusa station. Taito is also full of other more minor things to see and do and if you’re into the charms of downtown Tokyo but want to spare your legs it is a good way to just loop around and see so much more of the city in these slow buses than what you can see from the subway or trains. The only trouble is that most of the information is in Japanese! But if you have a local friend to help out, or if you are a local and want to show visitors around, this is an excellent way to spend a day in Tokyo. Besides, the buses are really cute. Here’s a map in Japanese of the routes – pretty impressive!
As all rail lines were down, a lot of people relied on the bus network of Tokyo to get home, but it wasn’t as easy as it could have been. Buses were quickly filled to the brim of people. I could have used a bus to get home but chose to walk as I didn’t want to take the place of someone who could have really used a seat. I saw some young people on the buses but I am not judging them as there is no way for me to tell if they had special reasons to use the bus service rather than walk, like the vast majority of people. Some of my friends in their 70s reported walking until well past midnight to get home, and commentators on this blog tells of people walking from Tokyo to Yokohama, a distance of over 30km. These photos of buses and crowded bus stops were taken in Ikebukuro at night, by then buses had been stuck in traffic for hours already, more and more people lining up for the very few places available.
As people in Tokyo are not usually relying on buses, many people were unsure about routes and bus stops. I think many people were actually using buses for the first time. Space in front of bus maps were crowded.
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