Three weeks ago, my family and I visited Tokyo, and we had a week to get to know a little bit about this metropolis. This trip was my kids’ first time in Japan, second time for my husband and me. (Hubby and I spent a few days in Kyoto two years ago, and we had a lovely time.)
Downtown Tokyo is very crowded and busy.
From Narita airport, we took the Narita Express train to Shibuya, where we were going to stay on our first night. Wow, as soon as we stepped out of the Hachiko exit of Shibuya station, we were immediately welcomed to Tokyo by a bustling crowd and bright neon lights! We were surprised to find ourselves, together with a crowd of Japanese locals and some foreign tourists, joining the pedestrian scramble on the famous Shibuya Crossing. It was a bit challenging to make our way among the crowd while pulling our wheeled luggages and without getting separated from each other. But, hey, we made it!
Pushing in the trains during rush hour is normal.
Granting that, in my 7 years of living in Singapore, I took the train during off-peak periods more often than during peak periods, I had never experienced being pushed into a train. One rush-hour evening in Tokyo, my kids and I were in a queue to ride the train home. There were many people on the platform, so we were bracing ourselves for a fairly crowded train ride. What we didn’t expect was to be pushed by rushing passengers from the platform and into the train. We didn’t even have to make any effort to move. I noticed a young man desperately pushing his way out of the train as the throng of passengers kept trying to squeeze themselves into the packed train car before the doors closed. Thankfully, he made it out without incident.
We took many more train rides during our Tokyo holiday, and none were nearly as crowded as that. I’m guessing we were lucky to have taken the trains more often during off-peak hours, avoiding the packed train platforms and pushing passengers.
Having been back in Manila for almost 3 years now where I drive to get around, I am no longer used to the busy nature of commuting via public transportation. And unless absolutely necessary, I avoid crowds. This experience of the bustling sidewalks and trains almost felt like new and was a good introduction to life in Tokyo.