Did you know humans? Probably as you are most certainly one. Have you ever been around humans? Again, that is a likely possibility. Have you ever been around many humans? Well, it depends on where you live and what you do to unwind. Yes, I’m talking about crowds, the kind of crowds you see in very busy cities, at concerts or on festivals. The kind of crowds where you are robbing shoulders with strangers, like all the time and where the image of the ground is just a distant memory. The kind of crowds that you’ll encounter in Tokyo literally every single day by just walking around or if you really want to get close to the natives, might I suggest a ride in the Ginza Subway line during rush hour? The famously overcrowded Yamanote Line is also a good place, but Ginza gives you a closer experience than that by having fewer cars per train and less trains. Just give it a try, you’ll be definitely surprised to see how much business man and woman in orderly attire will literally press themselves against each other to catch a ride and how many people can fit into a train. I was thinking about taking a picture, but that would have required me to push other people forcefully aside in order to lift my arm, while possible I considered it somewhat rude to people with which I had this close of a relationship.
Now you might be wondering, how the hell do you get off when you are at your station, but that’s very simple, you do it the same way you get on the train, you push. When people feel people behind them pushing, they usually move and get off the train in order to let you out and if not, you just push them aside. If you yourself are forced off the train that way, but it’s not your station yet just get on after everybody that wanted to leave has left. Since you are standing directly outside of the doors at that point you definitely get a place, although it’s probably going to get a bit stuffy, though you should be somewhat used to the experience by then. Rinse and repeat until you have arrived.
There are however a few rules to this, don’t worry there is not much to be done aside from going limp, but a few unspoken rules exist. First and foremost, don’t use force in an aggressive way. Yes, you can and should push and you can do so with force, but don’t do so in an aggressive manner. The point of pushing is to get where you want, not to exert force on the ragdolls around you. Also, don’t react aggressively when being pushed, just go with the flow and relax. You might be nervous because you can’t hold on to anything for balance, but don’t worry, nobody can. The train is packed so tightly that this doesn’t really matter as falling over would require enough space to do so and trust me, there isn’t. Thirdly if you get a backpack take it off or wear it in front of you, otherwise you’d be shoving it into someone’s face, which would make the experience of that person even worse.
You might be wondering how to get into such a train and the answer depends on how strong you are and how little you care about being a nuisance. It goes something like this: when you get to the doors turn around and then push yourself backwards into the train. Since you are doing it backwards, it’s not too awkward, because there is no eye contact. When you are pushing but can’t move into the train you have two options: either push harder or wait till the next train comes around, which usually takes not more than five minutes. Don’t worry during rush hour that train is going to be just as packed, but now you are one of the first persons to push yourself in, so it’s cool.
If train pushing isn’t your thing, Tokyo has got you covered. Do you know the cherry blossom? It’s called Sakura in Japan and Japanese absolutely love it. There is a kind of picnic called Hanami. The procedure is quite simple, you and your friends go to a park full of blossoming cherry trees, you put a mat on the ground, but stuff like food, drinks and yourself on the mat – take your shoes of first! – and then you get drunk with friends in a sea of white flowers!
This is Japan however and if you have a good idea like this, several thousands are having that exact thought as well. So, things get crowded, like really crowded and loud.
If neither of these is your thing there is one more thing you can do and that is going to certain places like Takeshita street on the weekend – I lived in shared house close to it for a month – or other places like Roppongi or certain railway stations or famous sightseeing places. In Tokyo you definitely won’t have to search long to find the crowd of your choice to rub shoulders or to wait in line.