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Amparo Bertram

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08:46 pm: Choo-choo
Today I went to one of the few places I could use a credit card: the ticket window at the train station. I bought tickets to visit my friend in Chiba, and I needed to use a credit card because I haven't gotten a paycheck yet. One of the problems with living in Japan is that, in addition to not being able to use credit cards at very many places (for example, the local grocery store chain Heiwadou *only* accepts their own store-issued credit card, so I have to pay with cash), my own credit card company finds it suspicious that they're getting charges from overseas. Case in point, the first credit card I tried was unusable because the company put a stop on it, I imagine due to finding such a large overseas charge (nearly $250) suspect. It was a good thing I had a second card on hand, or I wouldn't have been able to purchase the tickets.

The train system here is awesome. The trains are almost always exactly on time. The problem is, they aren't always scheduled at convenient times at the stations nearest to me. For example, in order to catch the shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo, I have to go either to Kyoto (about half an hour in the wrong direction, which means the fare is higher) or Maibara (about the same distance in the right direction, but a smaller station where not all the shinkansen stop, thus making the wait longer between trains--and the ones that do stop are the slower trains). Then, since the shinkansen ends in Tokyo, I have to transfer to a different train line to get to Chiba. Taking into account all the transfer time, the trip will take roughly 4 1/2 hours one-way, assuming I don't miss any trains. Still, that's not too bad, considering I don't have the inconvenience of maintaining and storing a car in order to get around. Plus, I can sleep or read on the train, which I couldn't do if driving. Not that I would have had anywhere to park once I arrived at my destination anyway... All in all, I'm really grateful for Japanese trains.

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From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 10th, 2004 08:12 pm (UTC)

Choo-choo

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We hope you have a great time visiting your friend in Chiba. I can hardly wait to hear how things go. Love, Mom
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