Saturday, December 3, 2011

Deep Deep Underground - The Commuter Battlegrounds


In the Subway at 2AM anything goes...
When you lived a bunch of years in Tokyo like I have, you develop some form of relationship with the network of subways in central Tokyo. Although the regular JR train lines (the JR lines do not go underground) might have some small variances (I do enjoy in particular the silent English lessons on the Yamanote line tv screens) they're basically the same wherever you go in central Tokyo.

The subway though is different and even though most of the lines are operated by the same company, Toei Metro, they still have a distinct "personality" based on the time they were built and the areas they go through. The train line I hate the most is without doubt the relatively new Oedo line which is built so deep underground that you pass through Hell, Hades and Hel before finally reaching the train platform. Usually the trek from the sunny surface to finally reaching the train takes longer than the time you actually need to ride on the train.

To it's benefit, I must admit that the stations are usually very nice and clean and in some of the vast corridors they have some fancy artificial sunlight effect going. Also, all the stations are equipped with barriers and automated gates, probably having saved thousands of drunken salarymen from a sordid death through falling on the tracks. Also, probably even more significantly, this has probably saved Toei a lot of money as they could reduce the corpse cleaning crew.

Still, it doesn't matter, I still hate the Oedo line. It does go through some fancy areas but that just makes me hate it even more as I might need to occasionally use it...  I often go out of my way to avoid this line, sometimes making both elaborate and innovative train switches...

As you might have figured out, to follow up on my commuter terrorists series, I will also guide you a little through the battlegrounds of the commuter war, starting here with the Oedo Line. Up next; The Ginza line: Sluts and money

6 comments:

Sarahf said...

Makes me grateful for living in the boonies, where the trains never go underground. Or anywhere exciting, for that matter.

Chris said...

"Up next; The Ginza line: Sluts and money"

You should write by lines for major porn mags.....as if I won't be back for some of this!! ;)

kathrynoh said...

I am very fond of the Chiyoda line. Apparently this is amusing to Japanese people for some reason!

Evacomics said...

Luckily I'm on yamanote :P

Climate Morio said...

Rofl, Ooedo and Ginza, also my personal most hated favorites, all in one post. This is genius!

So-So Good said...

I'm one of the few that love the Oedo line, though to be fair in my neck of the woods (Nakai) the stations are very close to the surface, and I only take it a few stations down to Tochomae since I work in Nishi Shinjuku. The lines I hate are the Ginza line (made especially depressing by the fact that it reminds everyone that the bubble time is long gone and will never return), Marunouchi (Ginza line 2.0), and of course, the hellish Yamanote. But I tend to avoid the train all together and take the bus to Shinjuku Nishiguchi; it's never crowded, never overheated, same price as the Oedo line and takes only 20 minutes. Of course, my Japanese coworkers think I'm crazy, but then again they also can't fathom the fact that I would rather walk from Shibuya to Harajuku (takes what... 10 minutes?) than stupidly taking the train for one station.

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