Typhoon Roke slammed into Japan at the height of the Tokyo rush hour, causing the train system to come to a complete stop. With over six million people using the train system per day, any delay is going to cause massive back ups. On this show, Anthony shares his experiences on both the typhoon and the notorious Japanese rush hour.
This is a quick show on our crazy, 5-hour train ride. We went apartment-hunting that day; although there was a typhoon, it didn’t seem like a big deal since it was just a little windy.
After we checked an old, small Japanese-styled apartment which was still pretty expensive, we soon made our way back to our hotel located near Shinagawa station. By then, the wind was blowing the rain and trees everywhere. The train we rode halted at Harajuku station which was about 15 minutes away from our stop. They were making announcements in Japanese so we weren’t sure whether we should go off the train and hail a taxi instead.
So we just sat there with the rest of the Japanese people waiting patiently for almost half an hour. Just when we were thinking of finally getting off the train, it started to move again. Trains in Japan run past close to each other, so these just crept down the tracks to avoid the risk of colliding given the precarious weather. In Ebisu station which was only 4 stops away from Shinagawa station, the train stopped dead again.
We were already hungry so we left the station to grab something to eat, but we were literally blown down the sidewalk. At one point, we had to hang on the fence because we were being pushed too hard. There were scattered umbrellas everywhere. The broken ones were discarded together which made a graveyard at the station. We got to this Japanese restaurant where we waited to get some food for 30-40 minutes. By the time we got back to the station, the wind had subsided a bit but the train was still full. When we finally got to Shinagawa station, we already spent 5 hours into our journey what normally should have been a 15-minute ride!
Shinagawa station is the main hub for many train lines including the Shinkansen or bullet train. I remember hearing from the announcements that all the Shinkansen trains were canceled. Thus, when we arrived there, the station was so packed that the people almost cannot move. There was not a single space that was not filled with people. You cannot even walk fast. I’ve never seen so many people besides those you see in big concerts. When we got off the train, there was another 20-minute line up from the main platform to the main station area upstairs. Not only was there a long line up to get on the train, but there was also an extensive line to get off the train. What’s amazing though was that everyone was quiet and moving along nicely; no one was pushing. If trains get delayed, the back up is huge given the thousands of people who commute daily.
This was my second day in Japan and this has blown me off. It’s been a long day but it was also a fun adventure for me. As Jing would describe it, Japan is so huge but lovely. It’s very clean, people are nice and polite when greeting and the city is great. A good description for living in Japan though is that you may feel like an ant – and Tokyo is an ant colony where the hive mentality is strong. When our line stopped, we saw people being packed into the train like those you see in videos. They have an interesting technique to fit in the train: they walk into the door, turn around and back themselves into the train as much as they can. They try to squeeze in before the door closes. It was funny to see these little old ladies pushing their way in. If their bodies are half-in / half-out and the door is about to close, they either jump out or try again.
I took some photos of our train experience on our Facebook Page.