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Resources for Japan

February 3rd, 2004

I just wanted to let you in on a few web resources for living in Japan that I find useful.

Yahoo Trains and Jorudan

With Tokyo’s labyrinthine train system, it is a wonder anyone can make it around town–what with the dozens of train lines crisscrossing this way and that around Tokyo, with the psychedelic spaghetti that is the subway system in midtown. Should you take the Chuo, Tozai, or Marunochi line to Kichijoji, and then transfer via the Inogashira line, or should you go by the Keio instead? Which one is cheaper? Which is faster?

Well, there’s a great web utility for those in doubt. You can find it on Yahoo Japan’s web site; just enter the starting point, destination, and when you want to travel, and the engine will produce a list of possible ways to get there, citing departure and arrival times, transfer points, and total cost and transit times. Links to maps of the station areas are included. Unfortunately for those unable to read Japanese, the Yahoo site is not provided in English (though station names may by typed that way), but not to worry: the Japanese Traffic Guide by Jorudan accomplishes the same thing in English. The Yahoo version is better if you can get by the language barrier, though.

Free Maps

None of the Japanese mapping services are in English, but if you know the language enough, they are excellent for finding what you want. Both Yahoo Maps and Mapfan allow you to find a location by narrowing down by prefecture, city, and local area–or by typing in the address, station name, or postal code.

My preference is for Mapfan–their interface is easier for me, and their maps have greater detail.

Good Weather

There are many sites to give you weather reports, but the best weather site for Japan that I have seen is the one provided by TBS. Nationwide and Tokyo-specific forecasts include an every-3-hour forecast for the day, a one-week forecast, typhoon tracking, and up-to-date satellite images and radar readings–including an animated radar display that projects rainfall hour by hour up to six hours in advance. The forecasts are not always correct, as you would expect, but they are pretty reliable–and the whole thing is available in English.

Just a few… if you have any favorites, please leave a comment and point them out!

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  1. February 3rd, 2004 at 23:49 | #1

    I agree, the Yahoo site is great. Another useful site for the trains is http://www.ekikara.jp. It doesn’t give you advice on which line to take, but they have a complete set of timetables for every station.

    Also, for studying Japanese, the online dictionary at http://www.alc.co.jp is far and above the best online dictionary I’ve found.

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