Monday, December 10, 2012

The Healing Powers of Chicken and Whiskey.

The title isn't Vonnegut's lost letter to humanity (Although, I wish, vegetarianism aside), but my husband's words as he sat down to dinner last week after an evening in commuter hell. I don't know if you've heard, but Tokyo (and even the surrounding prefectures that feed into it's sprawling workforce) is the world's most populated city, ergo packed trains and subways. There's no way to explain how dehumanizing rush hour commutes on Tokyo metros can be. I don't work around Tokyo. Shit, John works 25 minutes from Tokyo station, and his commute brings him another 41 minutes away from the capital. But because of the area's population density, many commute one, two, or even three hours to work or school there. I've been in and around Tokyo on weekends or during evenings, and when I depart from the train car and walk on the platform and up the stairs in a sea of people, it's terribly difficult not to feel like a mindless robot. Even though you'll never know unless you experience it, Slate's Picture Blog has a great post displaying a packed-way-more-than-sardines Tokyo metro line.
copyright: Michael Wolf via
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When you're in crowds like this, with people who make this commute six, or more likely, seven, days a week, you quickly learn that many who deal with this their entire lives give up what we westerners would consider basic politeness. It's not that the guy with his elbow in your crotch or the girl who's backpack is jamming into your chin aren't being rude by foregoing an expected "sumi masen" (excuse me). It's just not said. People push and shove and barge and clip and knock over on their way in and out of the train because they have to. They have somewhere to be, and they want to get off as soon as possible. Who wouldn't in an atmosphere so brutal. John has a joke that Japan's train system is wonderful unless you have to ride it every day. Or unless it storms or snows. Then, many of the trains are cancelled, and the crowd gets even more congested than usual. I love the train. It's punctual. It's different than any other mode of transportation I've ever used. It takes me places. But I love the train because I'm not on it everyday. I'm not inundated by a sea of people twice daily for over an hour each way. I get to enjoy the train on the weekends, and some random evenings. I bike to work and it takes me ten minutes. I bike to get groceries and Starbucks. And I bike to Cainz (Our favorite store for all out home needs)! I imagine it's hard to come home every day after that. One must get really good at changin' their mood. I'm grateful I don't have to commute so far to work.  I hope that after April John doesn't either. But until then, he's got chicken and whiskey.

Sad Samurai

More coming soon.


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