So you want to study Japanese society?


Then I simply can recommend you to hop on a train and observe the people around you. Most likely Yamanote line could be a top choice, because you are passing through many different areas representing different generations. Of course, you don’t have to be limited to a subway or train line in Tokyo, because I think every train line works. Yesterday I had my own unique experience on the train home from work.
Usually I am not already on the train that early, but yesterday I was lucky and enjoying my way home at about 19:00. Moreover I got my seat, as the line I was taking was unusually empty, leaving me with only two others in the same car. While it is rather unusual to have such empty trains during daytime in Tokyo, I was more surprised what I could observe soon after the train had left the station. A very professionally dressed early 30s business man got up from his seat and got busy getting all the dust of the seat and his clothes. For the whole time we had shared the same wagon – most likely about 6 minutes – he was amazingly focused on getting the seat he had been sitting on and his clothes clean. Trying to keep my surprise to myself, the other gentleman caught my attention, by practicing some classic music in a rather loud voice. This equally professional dressed 50s business man was fully focused on his i-pod and his voice practise.
Honestly I was starting to ask myself what I should be doing on the train. Maybe I am missing something and I forgot to be busy on the train as well. I guess reading quietly on the train is out of date.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

2 thoughts on “So you want to study Japanese society?

  1. That’s rather rare I think. Even today. Then again, I’m a little old fashioned.

    I personally would bid you to ride the Hanwa line down in Osaka – Wakayama. It travels through the bedroom suburbs of Osaka down to the rural mountains outside of Wakayama city, and down into Wakayama city, a quaint modern town.

    • Dear Chiaki,

      I agree with you that it is very unusual to have this kind of unique commuters on the train. I am now living more than 9 years in Tokyo and this was the first time, I did not know how I should behave on a train.
      Oh, I do know the train line that you are describing. I was on it about two years ago.

      All the best from “snowy” Tokyo,

      Sibylle Ito

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