Of course I have to write about the trains. I finally have managed to navigate the system and it is my sole form of transportation. I don't even want to admit how many hours a day I am traveling on them.
I am still surprised how efficient they are. They run constantly and are always on time. I can go on and on about how sophisticated their ticketing is or how clean the station and cars are, but I'll save it for now. What is more entertaining is how packed they can get.
I been dying to see the guy who pushes people into the trains, but the riders don't even need it. People willingly pack themselves in and put the train cars over their recommended capacity. I have ridden on some ridiculously crowded trains. During the morning, commute home, and last train of the night 11:30pm have been the worst. I never understood why commuters wear their super Asian white face masks until a guy shoved next to me was sniffling the whole way to my stop. For some reason those masks always remind me of the Sars outbreak.
You're smashed in the middle of a ton of people, unable to grab a pole or ring, but you know you can't fall over because there's no room to move...that's how crowded it is. It is a pretty disgusting feeling. I think the funniest part of any train ride is how when the train starts moving people shuffle/fall one way like dominos and when it stops everyone goes the other way. It always makes me laugh inside. On other occasions I have seen the trains fully of salarymen each holding a ring and swaying back and forth as the train jerks along. It makes me smile for some reason.
On a more serious note, yesterday there was an "accident". And when they say accident they mean a suicide. The suicide rate is pretty high in Japan and from what I understand a number of them occur at the train stations. Its a really sad reality check.