Japanese Trains During Rush Hour, A Claustrophobic’s Nightmare

By Donnie | Articles

Claustrophobia-abnormal dread of being in closed or narrow spaces.
-Merriam Webster

If you’re in any way claustrophobic, I wouldn’t recommend riding a Japanese train during rush hour. Doing so may make you the first contestant on my new “Who’s Going to Have a Panic Attack?” game show (no it’s not a real show). I’m serious…it can get pretty crowded on these trains. If it’s an extremely crowded train, you can barely even move. Fortunately I’m not claustrophobic, and I’m on the taller side, so I get a bit of relief:

Hate it or love it, riding trains in Japan is an everyday thing for most people. I don’t really mind it so much, because it takes away the hassle of driving a car everyday, sitting in traffic, paying for gasoline, and (long-term) paying for car maintenance and repair. Okay, well, let me back up a minute. In general I don’t mind riding the trains, but even the most patient person can get a little bit irritated when…DUN, DUN, DUN…RIDING A JAPANESE TRAIN DURING RUSH HOUR!

I was riding back from Tokyo last week, because I had the day off, and decided to stay in Tokyo a bit longer than usual. I didn’t pay attention to the time, though. By the time I started heading back, it was around 6:30 or 7:00 pm. This meant I was going to have to brave the swarms of commuters on the Tsukuba Express to make my way home. I have to say that the TX isn’t as bad as some of the Tokyo trains I’ve seen, but it can get pretty tight. I actually remember catching a train back home one morning during Monday rush, and one of the station attendant’s job was to literally pack the train. No joke this attendant physically had to push the last of the people into the train car so they could all fit. I hope to see this phenomenon again sometime…the next time I do…I’ll show you what I mean.

There’s nothing worse that having a long day, or walking all day, getting to your train and finding out it’s standing room only. Depending on where you came from, the bad news compounds depending on the length of your commute. For example going to Tsukuba takes 45-minutes, and if my feet hurt…having to stand the extra 45-minutes can seem like torture.

But hey, look on the bright side, at least the trains in Japan are clean and punctual.

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