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Experiences in Asia

Suffering on the Subway

JAPAN | Thursday, 12 January 2006 | Views [635]

 Hi all, here's another post from the land of the rising sun....

 I want to say a word or two about the (in)famous Japanese subway. You probably all know that it is the busiest in the world, moving practically millions of people from the 'burbs into the centre for work. It also moves a few of us students, and unfortunately we get caught up in the wave. I have the luck of shipping through Ikaebukuro, one of the busiest.  Usually I'm up at 6.30am and then at the station by 7.50. The subway at this time is jam-packed. Usually, I think to myself I cannot get on this train, but often, it's possible. The trick is to bow before the doors, do an about face and then, ass-end first, reverse into the carriage. Nobody bats and eyelid at this. This sucks because of the closing doors and also, me being taller than the average Japanese, I get a nodding head on either of my shoulders, back and chest. I end up looking like the middle of a tripod. Another strange thing about the subway? Both day and night, despite the crowd, it is deathly quiet. Using mobile phones are banned, and people would rather doze than whisper.

People getting off is a bit of a rigmarole. Due to the sardine-like conditions, whenever we get to a station, people edge past in order to get out. It reminds me of those squared puzzle games with a square missing, you know, where you move the squares in order to make the picture. Here though, people move like the squares, closer to the door in order to get out.

But anyway, $50 for a months travel to school and back, which takes about one hour round trip is worth the fee - If only I could get a seat.....!

I had an excellent conversation with Kyoko-san yesterday, and found out some facinating facts about her family. It turns out that her father and mother were stationed in no other than Dalian (the Chinese city I worked at) during the war. I suppose though this is no great suprise, the Manchuria region being in the hands of the Japanese during the 1940's. Her father was a station master. Kyoko was not around, but she told me that when the war ended, they had to leave Dalian for Japan, and were not allowed to take much of their property, including some antiques. I told her about my livng there, and that I would give her some prints of my photos of Dalian so that she could show her mother - hopefully I'll be around in order to see how she reacts!

The last thing I want to say is that I am slowly getting to grips with the gadgets around her house. By far my favorite is the bath tub that never goes cold. Notwithstanding the fact that you type in the level of the water and temperature onto the digital screen in before getting in. There are two kinds of heat jets either side that keep the water scalding hot, a la Japanese Onsen. An added bonus also is that the bath is deep, and long - yay!

I'll talk about the toilets some other time......

Tags: Adventures

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