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Commuting in Tokyo


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I am a Belgian filmmaker doing research for a

documentary series about commuting, called 'Moved 2

Work'. The series visits different locations worldwide

and focusses on commutes that are unusual or extreme

due to demographical/ climatological/ geographical/

socio-economical/political/... circumstances.

I am now trying to gather as much info as possible on

commuters in Tokyo. Alas most sites are in Japanese,

and I do not speak the language. So I am looking for any helpful info on Tokyo commuting:

How do the majority of the commuters travel? What do you

find typical about Tokyo commuting? What would be an

interesting trajectory to take? Etc.

I welcome any info/ link/ contact you can give me on

this subject.

Thank you

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The vast majority of Japanese commuters take public transit and of that, most of it is train travel.

I would suggest looking at the Japan Rail Tokaido line for an excellent example. It starts at Tokyo station and runs down through Yokohama on to points south for about 100km. Keep in mind this is a heavy rail metro style train line with 1000s on each train. It would be a fascinating study. By the way, this is the local line that I am referring too, not the bullet train line that shares the same name. Most of the sites that would mention the Tokaido Line would be referring to the Shinkanzen line which roughly parallels this local express line.

If you have more specific questions I can try to answer or maybe someone else here could help.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've never ridden on the Tokkaido line, but if you are able to make it to Tokyo and can get to any major commuter line (Chuo line, Yamanote line, Keiyo line, etc) around 7am and 11pm on weekdays... you're bound to find an incredibly packed train. monsoon mentioned "1,000s", but think of it more as MULTIPLE 1,000s!! LOOOOOOOOONG @$$ trains with people packed so tight into them people are smashed to the windows like bugs... and unwillingly catapult out when the doors open.

this is nothing...


So, most people in Tokyo (and most other large cities in Japan) commute by train. Driving is really expesinve... besides the fact that highways and roads are cramped and not very direct. Unless something is close, it will usually take you the same amount of time to take the train there as it does to drive... and it's always cheaper.

One reason why trains in japan are so crowded (specifically late trains) is because they stop running around midnight. Most business men (and women) go out drinking with the company after work and stay pretty late... so in order to not get stuck in Shinjuku all night, most people rush to catch the last train. This can be a pretty crazy thing if you're not used to it (and hard to breath). the trains seem like they can't get any more full, but the people just keep coming and coming. it's so full that you don't even need to support yourself. This also has lead to a lot of trains having "women only" cars for certain hours of the morning and night.

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  • 6 months later...
Indeed. I have a friend in Japan and on his daily trips to the office, he'll literally be shoved into the train by the watchmen.

The lines are highly efficient and it is very rare to see one late by more than 20 seconds. Conductors and other train crewmen have committed suicide when a train runs late...

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  • 4 months later...
  • 1 year later...

Check out this amazing video of an automated, underground 9,400-bike parking garage that opened near a Tokyo subway station this year. Commuters walk their bikes down into the $67 million facility via bike-friendly stairs, and a robotic arm parks their bikes for about $18 per month. According to the video, over 700,000 people ride bikes to Tokyo train stations as part of their daily commute - more than the number of bicycle commuters in the entire United States.

The link below includes video in English, but the YouTube video is in Japanese.

Tokyo's High-tech Bike Storage Solution

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