I’m sure everyone has seen the videos of the conductors in their little white gloves quite literally stuffing a horde of salary men onto a train. But unless you’ve deal with it yourself, or better yet,have to endure it every day of your working life day and night, you don’t quite understand the physical and emotional drain it has on your mind, body and soul.
The smell of morning sweat, the feckless salary women, the downright intrusive and vulgar old men, the aggravating humidity. It all leads to a very real sense of dread at the very thought of leaving your room in the morning. Personal cars are not really a thing in Japanese major cities and Japanese companies insist on the 9:00-18:00 core hours so the entire working population of Kanto tries to squeeze into narrow, mal-air-conditioned heat tubes.
Depending on your rush train really influences your mental health. Ask most Japanese in the Tokyo area commute about 1 hour to work, they are already in the danger zone for deep depression due to the journey.
They don’t help themselves when they reach for handles in spaces which position their elbow in your ear while, they spear their phone onto your back because they haven’t learnt to hold their phone vertically yet- some of where cretins will lean on you so they can use both hands on their phones. Ones of the few joys I get is when I can feel the individual learning on me I twist my body so they stumble a little- petty, but if you’re not a Tokyo commuter, you have no stones to throw. Older Japanese men are the biggest culprits of making these commutes so awful, heaving their back through the door of a fit-to-burst train, coughing uncontrollably, elbowing, pushing glaring. I’ve been in actual elbow wrestling competitions with old bastards who can’t step a single edge to the left to let me in the in front of seat standing area- they’re petty and aggressive. There is a holy grail of the standing area and it is the end of the seating area’s rail, its an extra, mini wall you can lean on- good luck fighting your way onto one of these because people will jump for them at stations. Lots of fighting language, right? this can’t be healthy. And not helped by the train being restricted in space due to women only carriages- I’m not the culprit of the supposed chikan epidemic, but I will pay the price none the less.
The Japanese government has tried to fix the problem but encouraging companies to change the standard business hours from the standard 9:00-18:00. But good luck telling these dusty bureaucratic limbos anything. This will never get better. As long as the Japanese cling on to their “kimatta mono”. There is no escape, no release and no comfort- it will ruin your day before it begins. Unless Tokyo expands and consumes all the surrounding are and move the jobs out of central Tokyo there is no respite- there is no mercy.
This for me is more stressful than a full-time job in sales.
Reconsider your life in Tokyo if this doesn’t sound very attractive to you- this is the deal breaker to your happy life in Japan and there is no short term fix.