Surviving Japan’s Train Society
In California, you can't go anywhere without a car. In Japan,you can't go anywhere without a train.
Though not as serious as say India, the Japanese train society can get as challenging that it demands for pushing staffs who push train boarders into the train, namely "pushers".
So today, I’ll impart some tips to survive this train society and some mannerism as a side note.
First of all, avoid the rush hours as much as possible.
There are a few modes of approach. One is to take a longer trip so that you can get on your train at its initial station. Take Tokyo Station for the Chuo-line going to Takao. Second is to head to your destination earlier or later. Just a few trains’ adjustment will get you the result.
But sometimes, you just can’t avoid the rush hour. It’s fine once the human density reaches the level that people (Just be aware of when people are getting off, so you can brace yourself from falling. If you fail to do that, you’ll just start a human domino. Also be careful so as to not break a bone.) The demon lies in when there are too many people that you’re cut off access to the train straps, but not enough so that you can’t lean against someone without looking like a weirdo or pervert.
So what can you rely on then? Your own body of course. Here’s a Nikkei article about the best positioning of your foot to master the momentum of the train.(The article itself is in Japanese, but just
looking at the image should give you an idea.)Apparently, the best way is to position one foot at a 45-degrees angle in relation to the other foot, which is set straight. That way, you can react flexibly to the various oscillations the train sets you against.
In relation to this, make yourself as compact as possible. While this includes consideration for others, it will become your lifesaver as well. It is very painful when your backpack gets caught in somebody’s arm,
and gets pulled down, for example.Next, if you're going on a long trip, make sure to go to the loo beforehand. Searching for the train bathroom, nor the bathroom itself, are not so enjoyable.Thirdly, utilize the Connection Guide Applications. With just the knowledge of the stations you intend to use, your ideal time of departure or arrival, these applications will give you information about the best train(s) to take. The categories are: speediness, cheapness, and easiness (as in lesser train changing.)
The best app so far, in my experience, is the NAVITIME application. Here’s a download link, for those curious.
The monster stations like Tokyo Station and Shinjuku Station
Lastly, beware of the monster stations like Tokyo Station and Shinjuku Station; they are like mazes. If you get lost, don’t be shy to ask the staffs there. Nobody wants to spend a life time there. In the mean time, accessing a KIOSK or built-in store for energy restoration might be a good idea. They have so many seductive articles.With these tips, you can basically survive in Japan’s train. As a final note, here are some of the mannerisms.
Make two lines for each door, so as to form a walkway to let those
getting off get off smoothly. Once those who are getting off get off,
follow the line and get on the train in a sophisticated manner.
Take as little room as possible for yourself, especially with seats. Never occupy seats with your luggage, or your legs for that matter, even if the train isn’t so crowded. Japan is a society of assiduity. While this
atmosphere of “do without being told” has its own faults, it is also something worth the respect. Be considerate of others. If you do occupy seats with your luggage, make sure to get them off once people board the train.
Now that you’re equipped with the basics, your task is to learn for yourself. Good luck to the future you in the train society.