Steve Tainton

Surviving Tokyo trains

A commuter's guide


Waiting on the platform for the next sardine express to arrive is the ideal time to get warmed up. A couple of neck twirls, hip twists and ankle rolls are a good way to get your body limber for the ensuing battle. The platform is probably more neglected than it should be. Good platform position ensures a nice entry onto the train and the potential to grab some prime real-estate before the next guy does. Ideally you should be positioned closest to the opening door, just aside to allow disembarking passengers to spill out, but not too far to the side lest passengers pushed out who intend to re-board get the jump on you. On a super crowded train (and what else is there during Tokyo rush hour) the possibility of getting a seat is nil. Seated people typically board the train at its point of origination, which is evidently somewhere north of Russia. These people guard their seats with the territoriality of a pit bull. Most likely they have strapped on pampers to prevent bodily functions from forcing them off their foot squared perch. So let's put the idea of competing for a seat to rest. Still there is certainly a pecking order among the standing. The best standing positions are halfway between the doors, directly in front of the seats. This position is as far away from the door areas as possible translating into the minimal possible squeeze. Also this position gives the passenger access to the overhead rack. Being a good salary(wo)man, you will undoubtedly have a briefcase of sorts that will strain your shoulder over the course of time so the overhead rack is a luxury that shouldn't be understated.

The second best position would be standing immediately behind position number one. This position eliminates some squeeze, but does not give access to the overhead rack. Now, the worst possible position is debatable. It is either directly in front of the door - photos of gloved train station attendants pushing people come to mind - or in the center of the door area. Either way your crushed. Is it better to be crushed between two human bodies or simply a human body and door? I leave this point unresolved and would encourage the reader to experiment with both (as a commuter you would undoubtedly have ample opportunity to do so) before choosing which constitutes the greater hell. When arriving a train station that you do not intend to get off at it is important to jockey for more prominent positions in the pecking order. This often runs contrary to common sense and decency on public transportation. Unless you are pancaked against the door, under no circumstances get off the train. If you do get off the train you are right back on the bottom rung and the cycle becomes endless. The thing to do is A) guard your position if it is good or there is no possibility of improvement; B) push your way inward toward a more prominent position that is opening up. The reason this flies in the face of common decency is that at the very least you will be hindering someone trying to get off if not pushing directly against them. Alas, this is the country that gave birth to Sumo. If you are trying to de-board you can use your bag as a sort of shield to push through the crowd. As a foreigner you will likely have a height/weight advantage. Don't be afraid to use this; there are no rules - it's war!

I hope that this quick tutorial will give you sporting chance should you step on a Tokyo rush hour train, but practice makes perfect so if you really want to get good you'll just have join the suffering masses and battle it out on a daily basis.




Comments

No comments yet

Post your comment

Comments are moderated and will not appear instantly.

Featured Jobs

Chinese Teacher

฿43,200+ / month

Bangkok


IELTS Test Prep Teachers

฿700+ / hour

Thailand


Filipino English Teachers

฿16,000+ / month

Chon Buri


Market Leader Teachers

฿700+ / hour

Thailand


NES Teachers (Full-time and Part-time)

฿47,500+ / month

Thailand


English Conversation Teachers

฿35,000+ / month

Bangkok


Featured Teachers

  • Haroon


    British, 45 years old. Currently living in United Kingdom

  • Ekhoe


    British, 29 years old. Currently living in United Kingdom

  • Michael


    American, 66 years old. Currently living in China

  • Alyse


    American, 42 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Wang


    Chinese, 23 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Justine


    Canadian, 32 years old. Currently living in Thailand

The Hot Spot


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.


Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!


Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?