Sardine Cans

We have two stations within walking distance of our apartment. Kasumigaseki Station is about 5 minutes from the university  so about 20-25 minutes from our apartment. Matoba Station is about 10 minutes from our apartment  Both lines meet at Kawagoe Station  which is the hub for Kawagoe. It’s less than 10 minutes from either station to Kawagoe Station.

Some trains are express, some are rapid… you have to look at the schedule to figure out that an express train skips some smaller stations and a rapid train skips some of the bigger stops. I got on one the other day that skipped my stop, but fortunately it stopped just before it, so I was able to get off and wait for the next train.

Usually there’s a place to sit, but sometimes it’s just standing room only. Today was a different story all together. I caught the 8:32 a.m. train to Kawagoe. It was the commuter train. Basically everyone shoves their way in. It was humid and steamy… couldn’t reach any of the bars, so you just plant your feet and lock your core! Fortunately (?) I was by the door, so I was only surrounded by people on three sides.

There’s one stop between Kasumigaseki and Kawagoe. Being by the door was a good lesson… instead of going around you, the mass of people push through you. I ended up out on the platform, stumbling for balance. I’m a pretty sturdy guy, but the mass of humanity moved me like I was on roller skates. You just get back in line with everyone else at the station and get back on the train. It was a good lesson for getting off at Kawagoe Station, where the doors open on the opposite side of the train. I just plowed my way out the door. Paybacks!


  • Reply Brian Bertsch April 4, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Good grief! Do the people seem rude or are they just a huge mass of commuting robots? I think I’d be a good foot taller than most folks on the trains so if people started shoving me around, I might have some fun with the “payback”. BTW, I’ve noticed folks with face masks in your pictures. I understand why they wear them in China (massive air pollution) but why in Japan? Are people just hypochondriacs?

    • Reply Robert April 4, 2014 at 11:03 am

      They don’t come off as rude at all. I think they just don’t have the same issues with personal space that we do in the US. It’s less shoving as it is getting caught in the wave of humanity exiting the train. I guess you can swim upstream or go with the flow 🙂

      We’ve learned the face masks are actually part of the general good manners of the Japanese people. It’s the sick people who wear them, not the people worried about getting sick. They’re trying to keep their germs to themselves. It’s been an interesting learning experience so far.

      • Reply Brian Bertsch April 4, 2014 at 11:11 am

        Ohhhh, they’re sick! Wearing masks for that is a great idea! My Auntie Yoshiko is from Japan so I’ve learned a bit of the Japanese culture from her over the years. She was one of the very first Japanese to marry a US soldier (my Uncle). If I remember the story correctly, my uncle had to get permission from McArthur to marry her. The Japanese are generally a very polite people and my Aunt exemplifies that. Love following your adventures Robert!

        • Reply Robert April 7, 2014 at 10:47 am

          That’s some awesome family history! A General-Approved marriage!

  • Reply Val April 5, 2014 at 4:12 am

    I LOVE reading your posts! Reading about your experience reminded me that it’s exactly how commuting back home was/is. Sardines style! Looking forward to your future posts. You are an amazing writer!

    • Reply Robert April 10, 2014 at 11:30 am

      Thanks! It’s been a lot of fun to write again.

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