This is not how anyone wants to start their day.
Even though I could praise Japan’s efficient public transportation system for hours on end, there’s one major drawback about it that has left me traumatized on several occasions and never fails to induce terrifying flashbacks whenever I’m surrounded by too many people. You can probably guess what I’m talking about, right? Yup, it’s about how unbelievably crowded the country’s trains and subways can get during rush hour.
Anyone traveling in the Greater Tokyo Area or other metropolitan centers of Japan should be forewarned that the experience is not for the faint of heart–nor for the claustrophobic. I mean, you know it’s a bad sign when there are actually station staff on hand during peak rush hours to squeeze as many passengers as possible into each car. That said, if you’ve traveled or happen to live in Japan’s capital, you can undoubtedly sympathize with the following ranking of the most crowded train and subway lines in Tokyo at rush hour. And just so you don’t think Tokyo gets all the love, we’ve also thrown in the lists for Osaka and Nagoya, too!
As I type this, there’s a group of cicadas in the garden below the window next to my desk. The insects are earnestly whining away in an attempt to attract mates, like a group of liquored-up frat boys on their seventh round of the night calling out to every girl in the club to sit down and do a shot of Jaeger with them.
There’s not much I can do about it though, given that hordes of cicadas perch in Japan’s trees every summer. Unpleasant as they are at first, after enough time you get used to them, and eventually some people don’t even notice them.
And if you think that sort of aural acclimation is amazing, consider this: some people don’t seem to mind the crazy crowds that pack into China’s public pools each summer.
Taking the train during weekday rush hours is a grind in pretty much any country, but Tokyo and Osaka are almost in a league of their own. We’ve all seen pictures and videos of station staff wearing white gloves leaning against walls of commuters and stuffing them inside trains to the point that the entire carriage tilts dangerously to one side, and no doubt many of you have experienced the sweaty, space-invading hell that is Japanese inner-city transport firsthand, but did you know that it doesn’t always have to be such a miserable experience?
Thanks to the knowledge being shared by Japan’s commuting elite this week, you might just be in with a chance of grabbing a seat – and with it a few cubic inches of breathing space – during your next rush-hour journey!
All eight seat-scoring secrets after the jump >