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Transportation: Google Maps in Japan, don’t believe it 100%, how to avoid the pitfalls

We just spent a few days in Kyoto and took regional trains, local trains, JR trains, local buses etc. and we have to warn you: follow Google Maps, but double-check, always! Because the mistake can come from your inattention

Note: we don’t have a JR pass, so don’t count on us to tell you which lines are compatible with your pass. We don’t know 🙁

Situation 1 : Remain on board

There are two trains with different names to take in a row, but Google Maps tells you to stay on the same train (“Remain on board”)

He isn’t wrong, but YOU may make some mistakes. Follow these steps to avoid getting off at a Terminus and ending up talking on the intercom to the non-English speaking driver

First of all, you have to take the right train that Google shows you, that is to say who leaves at the time it indicates: 4:27 pm

and the right direction (note that both train lines have Nakamozu as their terminus)

You will see on this train the name of the direction

Because the connection between the two lines isn’t automatic and does not apply to all trains

Here, look for the direction on EVERY train, as the signs on the platform indicate all possible terminals

Not taking the right train is like taking the RER B and ending up at Gare du Nord instead of Roissy

As we were a bit late vs. the route proposed by Google, we took the next train (which isn’t the right one), and almost stayed on the train, and left for the garage of the trains that had reached their terminus. Luckily, a nice Japanese woman beckoned us to get out (to us and other naive tourists too)

Location 2: Train (local)

On short JR train routes, sometimes Google Maps does not show the right terminus

For the Nara Line, on the docks, the signs indicate only three directions: Inari, Uji and Nara. To make it easier to find the right platform, Google Maps advises to take the train at 4:07 pm in the direction of Nara

While we actually have to take the local train with the terminus at Joyo

Let me explain: on the same line, there are fast trains (which don’t stop at all stations), and local trains (with the same terminus, or a different terminus than the fast trains)

So don’t rely only on the destination/terminal of the train. As in the previous case, take EXACTLY the train indicated on Google Maps – in the example below, it is the train leaving at 16:07, with the Joyo terminus. Japanese trains are really on time, so trust the schedule

How do we know that this train is going the right way? Because platforms 8 and 9 both go in about the same direction (by that I mean they don’t go in two opposite directions)

We encountered this problem twice during the day by taking the JR train in Kyoto to the bamboo grove and the Thousand Torii Shrine. So be very careful and make sure you always have 3G/4G on you

Situation 3: Lack of precision at bus stops

In this example, after a subway route (blue line), you have to walk (dotted line) to a bus stop that will follow the brown line westward

The white dot that is supposed to symbolize the bus stop is in the middle of the road… So we go to the same height on the left side of the road (yes, we drive on the left in Japan) to realize that the white dot is actually at the level of the bus stop on the other side which goes in the other direction

Nothing serious in this case, our bus stop was about fifteen meters away

So be careful, the bus stops aren’t in the exact location indicated by Google, it is important to look in which direction the buses are going and make sure that the right bus number stops there

Finally, it’s just like in Paris wholesale

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