Every morning, my commute from home to school is about an hour by train. Tokyo is home to one of the most busy commuter systems in the world, with an estimated 20 million people using it daily. One stop before my stop is 新宿駅 (Shinjuku Station), which is the busiest train station in the world by number of passengers. What does this mean for the daily commute?
Well, morning, which is when I take the train every day, is rush hour in Tokyo, from around 7:30 to 10:00. And before coming, I had severely underestimated the meaning of rush hour. By the second week of school, when I started to take the train regularly at peak hours, getting on the train involved removing any backpack, purse, or bag from your shoulders and placing it between your legs so that you can be optimally squished into the train car with about 150 other passengers (don’t know how accurate that is, but imagine everyone being in full contact with one another, with no moving room, like a vertical dog pile).
And to further add to the fatigue, after being squished like this for several stops, we would occasionally come to stops where there were fewer people getting off than getting on the train, which means that the population of the train car would grow incrementally at a doomed stretch of high demand and low supply train stations. Then, rarely, at some stations like Ikebukuro, where the supply is higher than demand (aka more people getting off the train the getting on the train), the population level of the train car is restored to a comfortable balance, with enough standing room all around and no elbows in faces.
tl;dr Trains are so crowded in Tokyo