This may seem like a repeat, but my alone trek was so much harder this time because I transfered trains at 3 stations all by myself. I helped Travis move today and had to find my way home after. He drew me a really good map, but it was basically up to me to transfer to the right trains at the correct stations.
Really riding the trains here is not too bad, afterall they are running constantly and come nearly every 3 or 4 minutes. The hard part is navigating the crowd, distinguishing and finding different lines, and reading the kanji on the maps. There were so many people everywhere since I was traveling during prime time. There are lines owned by different groups as well. The JR line v. local lines, I believe some are owned by the government and others are private. And on certain train maps, where neither hiragana nor katakana are written, I am completely helpless when it comes to reading the kanji. Since we both live in relatively small outlying cities, traveling between them requires train knowledge and time. I had all evening.
From Aobudai I started on the right train and managed to get off at Shibuya. However once I got off, I couldn't figure out how to get to the line I needed to transfer to. I kept pulling out Travis' handmade map trying to figure out what city I needed to go to next. I must have looked really pathetic because a young Japanese guy who got off at the same stop asked me in Japanese where I wanted to go. I told him the line and he led me through a maze of shops, staircases, and through the masses of people. He spoke only in Japanese and I can tell already that the 6+ years of Japanese I have taken were not noticable. He got me to the correct train line, asked if I was okay, and was off. People are amazing here.
From Shibuya I rode to Ikebukuro. I got off, walked down some staircases up others, figured out I was at the wrong place, and found what I believed was the right spot. I really honestly don't know if I actually transfered trains or just got back on the one I got off...haha. Either way I made it to Akabane, transfered trains again, and within 2 stops I was back to my home train station.
I must say I feel pretty proud of myself. All together it took nearly 2 hrs. Although my confidence in traveling is slightly up, my self confidence in my Japanese is substantially down. Between my conversation with the man in the train station and when I try to talk to Travis in Japanese, I realize I have a long way to go. I can say basic things, but really I have not put a complex sentence together since I got here. Its a sad realization. I hope my Japanese gets better, it really can't get any worse...I have a lot of work ahead of me.