Commuting by Train in Tokyo

Jul 29, 2016

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I’ve often heard from my foreign friends that Japanese are such workaholics.

Well, that may be true but not all of the Japanese though… We, Japanese people are so well known as people who works very hard. Some work from early in the morning until late at night. They even don’t take the paid vacation days even if they are sick.

Many people whose offices are located in the Tokyo area live in the suburbs of the city. Their residence is located in Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa or even farther away. Many of them use trains to commute. If you’ve seen a train map in Tokyo, you might have even thought it really looks like a fish net with all the different train lines. If you come from a foreign country and are familiar with this “fish net structure”,then sightseeing in Tokyo would be much, much more convenient.

These train lines are called JR Lines (Japan Railway Company), subways (Tokyo Metro) and private railway companies. Though these lines are different railway companies, we can use the common IC cards to take these trains such as SUICA and PASMO (the term is called “touch and go”). It’s incredibly useful not only for the tourists but also for the commuters that take different train lines to go to work.


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During weekdays in Japan many people coming from the suburbs of Tokyo go to the city in the morning and go home in the evening. So some trains are extremely crowded at these times. I think it’s more than you might imagine. It often seems to be hard for more people to ride the crowded trains, but people still try to get on since they are late for work.

We call this situation “sushi-zume”, like packing so much sushi in a small takeout box.

Well, some actual situations are much worse than packed sushi, and not nearly as delicious. It’s also called “tsukin jigoku” (commuting hell).


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So, I strongly recommend not taking the commuting train going to Tokyo in the morning, or going out of Tokyo in the evening during the so called rush hour times.

However, sometimes you would probably have the opportunity to take these crowded trains. Maybe you will be surprised to see so many people who are well ordered everywhere throughout the train. This is why we don’t have so many problems even with so many people. When you join this “commuting tour”, you should follow the rules like the other people on the train so that you don’t annoy others. Japanese people don’t like the person who is annoying others by not obeying the rules.




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