A couple of weeks ago, I was going to meet up with my friends Chris and Tomo (the guys from the Silly Japan Guy Photo Shoot” article). To get to Tokyo, I had to take my customary ride on the Tsukuba Express (TX) and then transfer to the Oedo line to get to my final stop.
I met up with them at this place called Spocha, located inside of the Round 1 (that’s really the name of the building) complex. This place is like a multistory playground, only, designed for adults. I’ll definitely have to go again, and tell you all about it.
I enjoyed playing volleyball with my new friends. Can’t say I really play much volleyball, or even play very well, but it didn’t matter; I had an amazing time. By the time we left, there was enough time to get to the station and for everybody to get home 🙂 …everybody except me, of course. I really thought I was going to make it. But unfortunately, I ended up spending the night in a Tokyo Internet cafe, lounge chair. I wasn’t too upset because it was Friday night and I had the whole weekend ahead of me. So I just accepted that fact that I was stuck in Tokyo until 5 am when the trains started running again.
After sitting in the cafe for a while, realizing that I had quite a few hours to kill, I started to get a little antsy and a little annoyed with how narrow the booths were at this particular cafe. I also started thinking about the Tsukuba Express and how I wouldn’t be stuck here if TX (Tsukuba Express) trains ran just a little later. For the most part, the Tsukuba Express rocks, and I often refer to with glowing words, but not today. Let’s look at three problems I have with the Tsukuba Express.
First, and probably the biggest issue I have is Tsukuba’s last train which leaves Akihabara at 11:30 pm. I guess that’s reasonable for weeknights, but on the weekends, if you’re out with friends, 11:30 pm very well may still be party time. You either end up having to stay with friends or finding some other place to stay until trains start running again. That sucks!
A second gripe I have with the TX is that the last train of the night stops in Moriya of all places!! Why on earth would the last train stop there?!? If it’s the freakin’ “TSUKUBA Express,” why would the last train dump you off in Moriya? Granted, Moriya is much closer to home than any of the other hot spots in Tokyo (still a long ways to get home on foot, or by bike). Despite the proximity, Moriya’s a far worse place to be stuck for the evening. In the dead of night, Moriya Eki looks more like a ghost town that a train station. There’s nothing nearby that’s open, it’s a town that doesn’t have many lights, there are no drunk people, no flashing lights…nothing. There is an intenet cafe but it’s a bit of trek to get there from the station (from what I understand). Not fun.
My third issue with the Tsukuba Express is that it’s one of the most expensive lines I’ve ever ridden, costing 3-4 times (on average) what you would pay between stations in Tokyo. In Tokyo 1000 yen can really get you places. I think it’s because stations in Tokyo are much closer together. To get from Tsukuba to Akihabara costs me 1150 yen…ONE WAY! 2300 yen may not sound like a whole lot to you reading this, but it adds up…and fast. It’s one of the reasons I don’t go to Tokyo as often as I’d like.
In the end, my griping was the result of having to spend the night in an internet cafe after missing the last train (my own fault). I am still a TX fan. Regardless of the price, it is convenient, the TX jas taken a former, boondocks city, and breathed life into it.