Recipe for a Perfect Daytrip

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Next time you wake up with the "I want to go somewhere today" feeling but don't have a specific place in mind, try this: make up some arbitrary rules(*) and go where they lead you. For example.

Start at the nearest major train station: Tokyo, Shinjuku, or Ikebukuro are ideal. Seed your trip by choosing some (but not all) of the following factors:

Fare (max/min)
Time to travel (max/min)
Terminal name on the train (specify a kana/kanji/letter that must be in it, or a number of kana/kanji/letters)
Destination station name
Track number (or range of numbers)
Train type (i.e. local, express)
Number of stations to travel
Number of transfers to make
Departure time
Train line/livery color

All the information must be knowable either when you start (i.e. maximum fare will be 800 yen) or as you travel (get off at the first station that starts with "ka"). You couldn't say, for example, "We'll get off the train at a station with a tudor facade," because you won't be able to see the facade until you get off the train.

We went out today starting at Tokyo station with the following conditions:

  1. Terminal name has be two kanji
  2. Track number is odd
  3. Express train
  4. Departure must be "next available"
  5. One transfer taken at the second possible transfer outside of the Yamanote Line
  6. Transfer direction must be towards the longer leg of the second line
  7. Destination station will be:
    1. station with koen (park) in the name or
    2. station with a water feature in the name (river, lake, beach, etc) or
    3. the seventh stop from the transfer station
  8. Travel time no more than 100 minutes

That might sound a little confusing, and there are definitely combinations of rules that work better together than others. But this worked for us today; we ended up somewhere interesting that we'd never have selected on purpose.

I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

1 Comment

Or if you have a GPS, you could select random spots that way too. I've had great fun using that method for some full fledged vacations.

But I've also used it for shot day trips either by car or by bicycle. I haven't tried train though! The tool I use lets you pick a starting location and maximum distance away you want to travel, etc.

I like the train idea and your method as well though. Where I live right now (near Seattle) it wouldn't work well unfortunately. But maybe the same thing with buses...

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