The rail-based mass transportation in Tokyo

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Freeman

How time flies… we just celebrated the New Year’s celebration and now we are in the midst of the Sinulog Week. For 15 years now, Straight from the Sky always celebrated the Sinulog Week with topics about the Sinulog. But for this week, we veer away from our own tradition and celebrate the Sinulog Week in the famous and still fabulous Plantation Bay Resort and Spa.

So when we’re in Plantation Bay, who else do we talk to? Of course, the owner, Mr. Manny Gonzales! Yes, for this New Year 2016, Plantation Bay will be celebrating its 20th year in the service of Cebu’s Tourism Industry. This is why we are featuring Plantation Bay this week because proudly, it is a locally owned 5-star hotel and they have their own culture instilled by Mr. Gonzales himself… where tipping is not allowed. Something like this happens only in Japan, but it is practiced with a passion in Plantation Bay.

So watch this very interesting talk with Mr. Manny Gonzales on how he created the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa and many current issues of a national level with regards the Department of Tourism on SkyCable’s channel 61 at 8:00 tonight with replays on Wednesday and Saturday same time and channel. We also have replays on MyTV’s channel 30 at 9:00 tonight and at 7:00AM and 9:00PM respectively on Wednesday and Friday.


Tokyo, Japan: There are things that we can only admire or even envy about the way that the people of Japan allow their politicians to run their country. For instance,  everyone, either rich or poor, takes the train unless he has to go in-between stops that’s when he takes a taxi. Second of all, Tokyo’s being one of the largest metropolis in the world has a very efficient train and subway system that interconnects and reaches the majority of the Japanese people and, above all, the trains run like clockwork.

I recall that right before World War II, the Il Duce, a.k.a. Mussolini, became popular in Italy because he made the trains run on schedule. In Japan, this is a given! In today’s modern world, Japan has made the exceptional ordinary, while we in the Philippines especially to us in Cebu, we are just starting with the bus as a major part of our intercity mass transportation system. Thanks to the venerable jeepney and the sheer lack of political will by our leaders, the poverty of the jeepney driver has forced the stagnation of our mass transport system for 74 years! I have always said, never let those who cannot afford to serve our public transportation rule it.

Thanks to SM’s MyBus, hopefully things would move forward… at least for us in Cebu. If there is something a traveler to Tokyo can learn from our visit here,  it is to learn how to use the JR Line marked by Green. Yes, the Tokyo subway map must be the most complicated and the most intricate subway system in the world.

But if you really want to get to the areas of interest in Tokyo, the JR Line will bring you to Tokyo Station across the Imperial Palace, to Shinagawa where we are staying to Shinjuku, the Makati of Tokyo, Ginza, and Shibuya. In the Tokyo subway map, the Green Line is a round circle where you can jump on this train and reach all these destinations in 30-minutes.

Incidentally in Shibuya Station, there is a statue of Hachiko, the loyal dog whose story became a movie in the year 2009 entitled “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” starring Richard Gere and Joan Allen. It’s the true story of an Akita Dog that accompanied his master to the train station everyday when he goes to work and waits for him until he returns.

One day the master died on the train and Hachiko waited and waited and waited in all sorts of weather - rain, shine, and snow - until everyone who went to the subway already knew him. He died waiting for his master who never came back. Hachiko’s story was printed in the newspapers and he became a sort of national hero in Japan and a bronze statue erected in his name for being a faithful dog. He died shortly before World War II.

One thing that we readily notice when we cross the streets of Shibuya is their pedestrian lane, which is four times wider than our pedestrian lanes. This should be a lesson for the Cebu City Transportation Office to learn especially at the super busy junction of Osmeña Blvd. and Colon St. which should immediately be widened to accommodate the large walking crowd in the downtown district of Cebu City. This gave me the impression that the Tokyo City planners moved to adopt to their growing population at that time, even while their population growth is now on a decline.

Even by looking at the map of Tokyo, you will get an idea of how much planning has gone into the making of this metropolis. Near our hotel, there is a designated “Evacuation Area” already printed in the map. It doesn’t state for what type of disaster…but if there is any evacuation necessary, then that place is already there waiting for anyone to use it just in case it is needed. This is what real planning is all about. What about us in Cebu?


For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mozcom.com or [email protected]. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.


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