Traveling in Japan can be challenging. And I don’t mean due to the inconveniences that arise from the fact that train and metro stations are not always well prepared for families with strollers.
Or travelers with heavy luggage.
Or wheel chairs.
In that respect Singapore is far more advanced. But in all fairness, the same shortcomings you would find in Germany, France or other European countries.
But the main problem is of course language (the ordinary Japanese does not really speak that much English) and the fact that the moment you enter Japan you basically become an illiterate. This could be even worse: thankfully many signs like train information are actually showing the information in both Japanese and English (think about it: I’ve never seen widely available Japanese writing in Germany… or, to stay within the analogy, in England).
How did we yet manage to find our way, understand written word or figure out the train schedule?
Well, highly developed intelligence, for one.
But we also had this:
I’ve mentioned this before, but eConnect Japan offers portable routers which connect up to ten devices to the cell phone network. I got us the 3G option and it worked perfectly fine. I did not want to exchange the SIM cards in our phones and with the desire to link a few devices anyhow this option was simply perfect.
We could figure out where we were anytime, check the best way to get to a place with bus or metro via Google Maps and even quickly understand what is written on a package with Google Translate. What a great service (both eConnect and the Google ones, mind you). The Google public transportation information failed us only once when there was a tricky change from one bus to another, but worked flawlessly in any other situation. Quite impressive.
Could we have managed without this luxury?
Sure. But it was so much easier and quicker this way.
10 years ago (when we lived like savages :) ) this was unthinkable…
It’s humbling if you think how easy the connected world makes it today to make it hard work to get lost.