Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Duality of Tokyo

It comes as no surprise that Tokyo is a city of extremes. Being one of the largest cities on the world, Tokyo can be gentle as a babies behind or as a wild as a bobcat. If Tokyo was a women I would have to spend years putting much effort into understanding her odd nature. This city has the unique ability to change its overall vibe like day and night; literary!

During the day time Tokyo is one of the mellowest places in the world; as far as international jewel cities are concerned. While the city basically stays in a constant state of semi-chaos there is a calmness which befalls it providing an unspoken and strictly followed social order. As I am not born of Japanese blood it is hard for me to understand how a tightly ordered social structure has developed though the many years of Tokyo`s history. Yet, the Japanese have a nature sense of order which is not found in America.

The morning rush in Tokyo is a thing of legend and a perfect example of `order out of chaos` which is the hallmark of day times hours. Between the hours of 5:30 and 9:00 am on a weekday do not travel on the trains in Tokyo unless you have a good reason. It is during this time in which a mass of people make their way to work. A sea of humanity pack the trains to way over capacity. You would be hard pressed to find another city in the world in which the trains conductors push and shove people into the trains just to be able to close the doors. The people are sandwiched into the trains like a can of sardines. In a lot of places in the world this kind of transportation situation would be grounds for a mad rush in the morning requiring a heavy police presence just to maintain the peace. In Tokyo the morning rush is an ordered and clam experience despite the overwhelming amount of people using the train system.

All rules, both legal and social, are followed to a point during the day time. It is very rare to see someone get so-called out of line with the norm. The city operates like a well oil machine. A beast of a machine cranking out human production rolls down the highway of progress seemingly without a hitch. Almost everyone stops and waits for the cross walk stop light; no matter how narrow the street. Excuse me, thank you, and bowing is done all day long in what appears to be the most polite society in the world.

Although, when the five o`clock bell sounds in most parts of the city an alter ego surfaces to reveal a 180 degree shift in flow and attitude.

When most people start to get off work Tokyo changes. The bastard child of a high pressure and ordered society comes out to play. You can almost feel this change in the air. The city speaks to its residents tempting all with her pleasures and hidden delights. If you listen closely there is soft voice in the air saying, `You have worked hard enough my children. Come and enjoy the fruits of your labor.` There is a break down of social order in a way. Many things which would be considered rude during the day become totality acceptable during the night hours. You can be just about as loud and drunk as you choose as long as you do not get violent or make too much trouble. Many of the excuse me and thank you policies are thrown out the window in favor of wild times and drunken excess.

Yes, Tokyo is a city with a split personality. It can be a huge shock for some people making their first trip to the land of the raising sun. The best advice to handle the duality of Tokyo is to simply go with the flow at times. Try to keep your head straight and remember do not let these two very different personalities take you under.


Anonymous said...

Great Post! I really enjoyed reading it :) Hey i found a site that you might like,

TheGhost said...

Thank you. I am real glad that you enjoyed it. I find Tokyo to be one of the most interesting places in the world. At this point in my life I do not want to live anywhere else.