Monday, November 10, 2008
Tokyo has one of the most detailed and efficient train systems in the world. A person would be hard pressed to find a place in Tokyo which cannot be easily reached by train. The trains are very clean, well kept, and most importantly on time. Sadly, a ride on a train in Tokyo is also one of the most depressing experiences in the city.
When I was just making trips to Tokyo I did not notice the ice cold vibe of the train system. Now that I live in Tokyo the daily cold shoulder the trains offer is like a brick to the face. Too often when ever I step foot on a train in Tokyo I feel like I am either attending a funeral or being rushed off to a hot war zone. Most people maintain such a grim expression on their face that if the train made a stop at hell station the devil would opt to wait for the next one.
My daily commute to and from work is never made any more pleasant by the atmosphere on the train. In the morning the trains are filled with men dressed in the most bland colors one could choose for a suit. They all look like they are off to serve a wicked corporate master who long ago claimed their soul. There is not one inch of happiness in these people. I cannot tell which they hate most; themselves or the job they are about to slave away at for countless hours. They have the ability to even lower the lighting on the train. The trains in Tokyo have very bright lights but if I stand up and look at all the people somehow the lights seem to dim. Everything inside the train seems to take on a blue&gray tint. It is like I have walked into a David Lynch movie. Any second I expect one of the salary men to look me right in the eyes and say, `I am the devil. I have come for your soul.`
The evening commute gets a little better but only on the Yamanote line. The Yamanote line does come alive with colors and sound in the evening hours. Still, there is this strange feeling that I just cannot shake. Some people talk but for the most part a silence as if the Emperor just died over powers the senses. On trains in Tokyo it can get so silent in fact that you can hear the light snoring sounds of people sleeping. It is a common sight to get on the train and see nothing but people dead silent with their heads down trying to avoid having any contact with other humans. While sometimes a gang of loud school girls or a small group of happy drunks break the silence, usually a sad bunch of people ride inside of a speeding hunk of metal without saving a word to each other.
In Tokyo people work their ass off from sun up to sun down so I expect there are a lot of tired people riding the train just trying to reach the comfort of their homes. Although, I refuse to accept this as an excuse to get on the train and behave as if the world and everything in it is dark and ugly. The vibe on trains in Tokyo must to be a factor to the high suicide rate. It is bad enough that many people are over worked and underpaid. After a long work day they have to get on a train that sends a message to them saying, `Your right. The world sucks, people are mean and cold, and your life sucks as well. Why don`t you just get off the train and toss yourself into the next one that comes by.`
Maybe it would be good for Tokyo if people lightened up a little on the train. Smile at each other once and a while. Say hello or ask how the person besides you is feeling today. Give your set to the old lady struggling to stand up. Do something other than have a grim look on your face and a fuck you attitude whenever anyone looks at you. Please! This dark train attitude is only making people more depressed than they already feel each and everyday. Maybe the free hugs people should get on the train and start hugging people. Just start hugging people while saying a I love you to everyone. Hell, it might actually work.
Anyway, train behavior in Tokyo can be pretty depressing sometimes. This still does not stop me from loving living in Tokyo. I would just like to see the train experience be a bit more of a happy one.