Tokyo is a massive city, with millions of people all living and working in a relatively small space. The only realistic way for most of these millions to get around every day is public transport, essentially meaning the vast and very impressive train system.
I came to Tokyo 5 years ago from Adelaide, Australia, a city where one’s car is the only way to really go anywhere, and joined these millions of people relying on the train system. No more car, no more independence. Early in March 2013, I was lucky enough to be offered a trial of a new electric scooter – the “Terra Seed”. I’ve never ridden a scooter before, or any other form of powered 2 wheel vehicle, so was expecting this to be a slight challenge.
However, within 30 minutes of picking it up, I had my independence back and was calmly cruising the streets of Tokyo. The Terra Seed is a one-speed electric scooter, with roughly the power of a 50cc petrol engine. Being battery powered, it is a little bigger and heavier than the average 50cc variety, but this gave it a more stable feel and a low center of gravity. I’m about 6 ft tall too, so it was great to ride something a little bigger. Being a fully electric scooter, the Terra Seed is very quiet to ride, and totally silent when idle. No repetitive puttering or exhaust gas to put up with. It seems to handle well too, and corners very smoothly.
I’ve had the Terra Seed for about a month now, and can’t believe how much it’s opened up my options for places to go! After a while in Tokyo, we all tend to live by where we can get to easily via a train. Sure, Buses exist too, but where I live they don’t come so often, are kinda slow, and are subject to traffic jams.
What this means is nearby places that aren’t on your line become a hassle to get to. For example, going from Hiroo to Azabu Juban on the subway requires taking 2 different lines for only 1 stop each, and takes about 15 minutes plus walking time. Now it’s 5 minutes ride away. Omotesando another example, requiring 3 different lines for only 1 stop each, and taking about 17 minutes plus walking time. Now it’s 7 minutes from my front door.
Traffic jams aren’t much of an issue either, as this scooter can run between the lanes of cars at the traffic lights to the front of the rank. Drivers seem to be quite accepting of this, and have even edged their vehicles forward to let me through.
The Terra Seed can be recharged using any regular electrical outlet, and fully charges in between 7-9 hours. It’s capable of quick charging to 70% in 2-3 hours as well. Given current electricity rates, a full charge will cost about 30 yen, and should last between 35-45km (depending on how you ride). I usually charge it on Sunday night before the working week, and again later in the week to prepare for the weekend. With light vehicle tax and compulsory insurance included, it works out to less than 1 short trip on the subway per week in ownership costs.
All up, to anyone who has either a Japanese or International drivers license, and is living in central Tokyo, I would seriously recommend looking at one of these scooters from Terra. You’ll get your time and independence back.