Japan is the future, I keep saying. But paper tickets are still being used – which is completely acceptable in the future. Ticketing machines are fairly straight forward to use – you can even change the interface language to English.
The train network, however, is somewhat complex and can prove to be a untameable beast. There’s always help at a Tokyo train station, if you need it, just push the HELP button.
Out will pop an actual human being.
What happens when you push the help button? I expected a voice to speak to me via a speaker box or at least something electronic. I expected perhaps a dialogue box to appear on the screen.
Nope, its more surprising. If you press the help button at a ticket machine in Tokyo stations, a small door next to the ticketing screen will open. Out will pop an actual human being. Yeah, check this out.
What the actual heck? Hahaha this is supposed to be the future man! Though it makes sense to have such portal-windows adjacent to ticket machines if the station office is right behind it.
Suffice to say they don’t seem to happy to attend to the mediocre needs of foreigners who simply want to experience the thrill of having the help of a real human being appear right before their eyes.
I think even Japanese locals do not press the HELP button for fear of annoying the station master unnecessarily, if the answer can be obtained by other means then they will seek that path.
So what do you do when the man pops out and starts speaking Japanese to you? You must be professional and ask in simple terms. Give the name of the train station you want to go to, they will help you to push the correct buttons on the ticket machine’s screen – then all you need to do is pay your money and say a very heart-felt Domo arigatou!