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By Narusa Yamato

Survival on the Crowded Train

Have you ever taken the train in Tokyo between 6 to 8 O’clock in the morning? If you have, you would know very well how crowded it is.

Photo of people getting off the train at Shibuya Station during the rush hourPhoto taken by Narusa Yamato

Photo of people getting off the train at Shibuya Station during the rush hour
Photo taken by Narusa Yamato

The crowdedness of the train in Tokyo is amazing, because there is literally no space between people. What adds on to this discomfort is the stuffiness and the sensation of radiant body heat emitted by the incredible number of people on the train.

From this description, you might be wondering how people can bare to use the train everyday. As a train commuter using the Tokyu Toyoko line during the rush hour to get to Shibuya everyday, I have found several ways to survive the crowdedness.

The basic advice I would give is to stand away from the doors. From my experience, the place that gets most crowded is the area near the doors. If you are standing around there, you will be in the way of people who want to get off, so they will sometimes push you out of the train although it is not your destination. In this case, you should get off the train, until people have gone off, and then get back on.

Another tip is to try to put your bag on the floor, in between your feet, or on the rack above the seats. This is because the shoulder is the part of the body which has the largest width, so if you have your bag on your shoulder, you are likely to make the train more crowded. However, when you put your bag on the rack, you have to be careful that you stay in front of it. This is because as more people ride on the train, they will push you, so by the time you arrive at your stop you may end up standing away from where your bag is.

So far, I have discussed the general tips, but as you get used to riding on the train, you might start to discover that some cars are less crowded than others. For example, in the case of the Tokyu Toyoko line going to Shibuya, the front car tends to get more crowded because it has the shortest distance to the ticket wicket* at Shibuya station. Therefore I usually ride on the back cars, which is likely to be less crowded.

By utilizing these tips, you may be able to bare the train. But if you can’t stand this, you might want to change the time you ride on the train.

*Ticket wicket: The machine/gate in which you put your train ticket in.

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