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"Letter-Letter 320"
June 22nd, 2003
"My Train is More Crowded Than Yours!"
"Riding on the Roof"  by IAC & LHS
"LL-History & How to Submit"  by LNR & LHS
"All the Time!"  by CWC
"Not for All the Money in..."  by APP & LHS
"Crowded, but Not Full"  by Yo/Gr & LHS
"Like Horrible Torture"  by JNR & LHS
"Are They Air Conditioned?"  by AMI & LHS
"Compressed - Literally"  by UFM & LHS
"In a Car Now"  by MZJ & LHS
"It Looks Empty..."  by KML & LHS
"Never Will I Ride in One of Those!"  by CLM
"A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words"  by CPK & LHS
"Hilarious!"  (One Liner)"  by CSA & LHS
"It's Better Not to Ask for Directions"  by HHE & LHS
"Sea & Stars"  by VKA & LHS
"Lucky at the Beginning of the Line"  by APR & LHS
"Looks VERY Crowded to Me"  by TRR
"One Movie I Didn't Like..."
"Repeat of Train-Photo Text"

"Forward"     [Top of page]

A few things right at the start here.  What with the spam blizzard fiercely blasting the Internet, people's addresses have a lot of problems.  From filling up with junk when left alone for awhile to "spam-guard" software that also stops non-spam mail, to... whatever, I get a lot of returned stuff that I then try sending a "Are you still there?" letter to, but when that comes back I give up on the address.  I'm saying this now, because if you don't hear from me for a really long time, it will probably be because (for whatever reason) I received error messages with things sent to the address, so I took it off the send list.  If that seems to have happened, send me an e-mail so we can get in touch with each other again!

Photos - I want to start sending more single (and downsized to be light) photos with accompanying text (as I did with the picture taken on the train), so if you'd rather not get those, then let me know and I'll put your address in a "no photos" category.

PDF files.  The Adobe Acrobat Reader is free, so most people's computers either can already open PDF files or have the option to, but some users (Web-TV, etc.) can't, so - again - let me know, and I'll put your address in a "No-PDF" category.

"My Train is More Crowded Than Yours!"     [Top of page]

While not claiming any exemption for myself, I think MegaCity dwellers take some pride in having the most crowded (or so they think!) trains in the world.  I recently (as you know) sent everyone a photo with the subject line "Fun on the Train... HaHaHoHo-Ouch!" - and I asked:

"So, how does it look to you?  Crowded?  Not crowded?  Only a little crowded?  Very crowded?  Not crowded at all?"

I asked the question because I've found that, depending on people's previous experience with train travel, they have widely differing reactions to descriptions of crowding, and that one photo verified what I suspected, as several of the following responses show.

For myself here in Tokyo, I've gone through many stages of thinking regarding the trains - from finding the crush-rush trains incredibly funny in 1984, to finding them nearly intolerable, and now I've noticed an interesting phenomenon - bragging rights of Mega-City dwellers!  I began noticing this as soon as I began telling people outside Japan "The trains in Japan are so crowded, that..." whereupon I began getting back "That's nothing - the trains in my-MegaCity are even worse!"  I thought I'd settle the issue by photographing some of the crush-rush conditions, but I have, without fail, always been disappointed in the results of my crush-rush pictures.  How can the experience itself be that excruciating and yet look like no big deal in the photo?  I can only conclude that our bodies being larger than our heads is the culprit!  If we had bodies like fish, then we would literally become the proverbial "sardines in a can" in a crush-rush train, and everyone being smashed together would look like... everyone being smashed together!  The trouble with our small heads is that no matter how crowded it gets, there's always all that space around the faces, and thus the pictures look like no big deal.

Another issue is photography - if you could take the roof off of the train carriage and photograph the event from above, looking directly down, conditions would be clearly apparent, but the vantage point of being in the crowd means that basically you have three photographic options:

1) Take a disappointing photo from slightly overhead - showing all that space between the heads.

2) Flex your muscles and force the camera between one of the several bodies touching yours and (if the camera isn't destroyed in the process that is) take an extreme close-up of the fabric of that person's coat/shirt/etc.

3) Drop down and end up in jail as you attempt to take a picture of people's legs - which would likely be just as disappointing as pictures of heads with all that space around them.

I've tried mainly number one and - sort of - number two.  Number three out of the question - I don't need to be making trouble for myself!  What with Japan probably being mini-skirt capital of the world, there are perverts who try to get pictures of women's underwear, so you wouldn't want to put yourself in a position of being mistaken for someone who has dropped off the edge.

Maybe we should have a photo contest between MegaCity dwellers - with whoever produces the picture best illustrating 'sardine can syndrome' getting bragging rights to the most crowded trains in the world!  Take pictures at your own risk though!  If you make the people around you angry, you will not be able to run away and I will not be able to help you or take any responsibility for what happens!

Actually, if the dimensions of each train car in question were compared with an exact count of the number of bodies smashed together inside, we could come up with a "bodies per square meter" rating.  A typical morning crush-rush train in Japan is something like 3.5 bodies per square meter I imagine, but it might be more.

"Off-Peak".  There was a sort of poster campaign several years back where the railways put up posters urging people to ride the trains "off peak" in order to avoid the horrors of the crush-rush peak hours (and that is with an "s" mind you).  At the time, I just thought "Right!  Blame me!  Believe me, if I had any choice in the matter, I certainly wouldn't be on those trains at that time!  The only thing that could change things would be if companies allowed people to come in to work later....".

I didn't think that companies would actually make any changes, but it seems that they have.  I shake my head now when I suffer on crowded trains that get into central Tokyo just before 10:00 a.m. ("Is there no time when the trains aren't packed?!"), but it got me to thinking the other day - and I think conditions have gotten slightly better.  The trains I take to work recently I can get on easily enough... they aren't pleasant to ride in, but whether I can get on the train or not is never an issue.  It used to be though - you would have to physically force your way onto the train, backing in making full use of all the strength in your legs and also your arms by pulling as hard as you could against the upper part of the doorway.  I've heard tales of broken PDAs, lost shoes, and torn clothing - it was really intense!  (Still is on certain trains at certain times.)  My worst experiences with that were on a different train line from the one I'm using now, so I guess I should go back to the old line and see how things are today.  In any case, I'm certain there are more people working flextime than before, so it must be a little better, or at least you don't often see people left standing on the platform who are unable to physically force their way onto the train....     [Top of page]

"Riding on the Roof"     [Top of page]

Date: Sun, 06 Jul 2003  +0530
From: IAC  [India]

You must come and see our trains in India.  I shall take some pictures and send them to you.  In the rural areas, people used to travel on the roofs of the trains and buses.  ..........


Since moving to Japan, I have often found myself in the crush of a sardine-run, wishing that I could ride on the roof out in the (semi) fresh air.  I imagine it must be a frightening experience if the train gets up to speed though!

"LL-History & How to Submit"     [Top of page]

Date: Mon, 07 Jul 2003
From: LNR  [Lebanon]

It is very very crowded my friend.  It is really scary.  I hope that it is not crowded like this every day.

I take this opportunity and thank you for the LLs and e-mails as they really are a window into the different worlds/conditions we humans are living in.  In a future LL, can you please recount the story of how you first originated the LL idea and how you made it a reality i.e. various strangers across the globe exchanging details of their lives.  Also please, I would like to ask you how I can contribute to a future LL?


Thank you for saying:  ".....  the LLs ...... really are a window into the different worlds/conditions we humans are living in ....."  I am happy to hear words echoing the original feeling and intent of the project.  To tell you the truth, while I began the project back at the end of 1996 with very high hopes, recent technical problems with the Internet have me a little worried about the future.  Specifically, the combination of huge amounts of junk mail (spam) and the insane things happening politically in so many places, have made people less open to establishing new friendships with strangers.  Basically, I'm just pushing forward with the established base of e-pals already in my address book and haven't tried to bring in anyone new for some time now.  The send list is currently at about... 1,500 people I think (down from over 2,000 through deleting error message generating addresses), which is enough to keep the project going while I ponder how to expand it... but I will need to utilize more sophisticated technology before doing so.

Re:  "Also please, I would like to ask you how I can contribute to a future LL?"

You're welcome to submit anything you would like.  Just tell me that it's alright for the material to be put in an LL-Letter (with a pseudonym) and I'll look it over and decide if it should go in.  The LL-Letters are different from bulletin boards in that no one can automatically post a message - things are sent to me first and I decide what goes in and what doesn't.  I also sometimes make minor edits to the letters to correct spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, etc.

"All the Time!"     [Top of page]

Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2003  -0700 (PDT)
From: CWC  [US]

I was laughing at the train picture you sent.  It reminds me of my younger days back home in New York City and rush hour there...  The trains there are like that ALL the time...


"Not for All the Money in..."     [Top of page]

Date: Mon, 07 Jul 2003
From: APP  [Australia]

Thanks for the photo.  That sure looks crowded to me, and oh, so claustrophobic!  To a claustrophobic person like me, I wouldn't be on that train for all the money in Japan - well, not for long anyway!!

It is so nice to be retired and out of the rat race!!


I'm a bit claustrophobic myself sometimes, which is definitely a big reason that I hate the crush-rush, but "... for all the money in Japan"?  Where'sTheTrainWhere'sTheTrain?!!  Lemme on it, no matter how crowded.  "All the money in Japan"?  That's a LOT of money!  One train ride and I'd be free for life to never again have to ride one of those things!

"Crowded, but Not Full"     [Top of page]

Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2003
From: Yo/Gr  [US / Japan]

Well I give it a crowded, but not full.  I can remember the last train (at night) on the Odakyu Line; you didn't need to hold onto anything because you couldn't move anyway!

I will be moving to Nagoya finally!  More English teaching, though this job looks better - just kids (no adults who act like kids, no freaky old people, and no more 'Can you use chopsticks?’ - yea!) and shorter hours overall.  It's been a long time since I lived in a big city.., I'm not really looking forward to it (i.e. the trains, masses of people).  (BTW, I was wondering why you didn't take advantage of the luggage rack overhead as a sleeping compartment?)


I used to use the Odakyu Line myself, getting on at Fujisawa, near one of the terminal stations (it branches off into different lines as it goes away from central Tokyo), and I would line up early and sometimes get a seat.  It was nice to sit down, but as the train neared Shinjuku, there would be so many people smashed onto the train that those standing next to the bench seats were banging knees with the people sitting and some were falling over them, with their hands against the windows to support themselves.

The overhead racks!  I have looked up at those for years, especially when I was on the Odakyu Line, wishing that I could climb up there away from the crowds and lie down for a doze until the train arrived in Shinjuku.

"Like Horrible Torture"     [Top of page]

Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2003
From: JNR  [US]

I could not stand that train ride at all.  It looks like a horrible torture.  The way all of the people are just comfortably riding along is a testament to human adaptability - surely over generations, not one lifetime.  I know Americans are spoiled by our wide-open spaces, and Midwesterners more than most.  I am hermitty even by midwestern standards.  We live in a nice, large house on a reasonably large lot, and I feel claustrophobic and monitored all the time.  Needless to say, we are looking for land in the country.  I am a country-raised woman who cannot become citified.  Congrats to you for managing in a harsh habitat.

JNR (Missouri)

There are some advantages to suffering on a daily basis... like the time I visited Santa Fe in 1996 and - for the first time - saw the beauty of the desert, the beauty of open space, the beauty of the fantastic sky of stars above... none of which I could have appreciated with such an intensity if I hadn't spent years deprived of clear air, clear space, and a wide-open sky full of stars.

Things being in the bones right from day one... I believe a certain amount of what we are is there right from the start... how much that may be is an open question, but certainly we're not computer parts on an assembly line - one precisely the same as the one before and the one after.

"Are They Air Conditioned?"     [Top of page]

Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2003
From: AMI  [US]

Looks like NYC at rush hour.  Quite crowded.  Is it at least air-conditioned?


Yes - they're air conditioned now.  Not all trains were in 1984, when I first came here, but now I can't think of any train lines that aren't.  If there's one thing the people of this country hate - it's heat!  People don't seem to mind being cold overly much, but the heat?  Most of them just can't stand it!  Even the subways are air conditioned, which is interesting, because there was some discussion suggesting they weren't going to use air conditioned trains due to the heat the air conditioning equipment creates that would then heat up the tunnels and the underground stations, but they got around that by air conditioning all the stations.  So, heat generally isn't a problem, but the newer the train car, the more airtight it is for energy efficiency, and the stuffier the air.  Most of the time, I think it would be far better to have a little heat with the windows open and air blowing through than to always be sitting in a sealed refrigerator breathing the same recirculated air.  The subways are a different matter though, as the air in the tunnels often smelled bad, so they are definitely more pleasant to ride in since they became air-conditioned.

"Compressed - Literally"     [Top of page]

Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2003
From: UFM  [UK]

Slight coincidence.  A week ago I moved to a new flat to be closer to work.  Instead of an hour and a half on trains each way, I can now walk there in half an hour, or just go two stops.

The long train journey wasn't unpleasant though, because it was all above ground on a normal train, so not too hot, and I could usually get a seat.  The only problem was the unreliability of the trains - too easy to get stranded.  It was a lot easier to take than the 45-minute underground journey I used to have.

Anyway, I'd say that was a crowded train, but pictures probably can't show how unpleasant the proximity and the heat are.  I read somewhere that movies and TV always show the characters as being far closer to each other than would be comfortable in real life, and I've noticed that's true.  When you actually look for it you see the movie stars with their faces just a few inches apart, which you'd never see in real life, but in the confines of a shot/picture it looks perfectly natural.  Maybe we're used to seeing lots of things compressed together in a composed picture.

While it looks crowded, you can't see people sweating and you have a nice rectangular carriage; unlike most of our Tubes here in London.  Apart from a couple of lines, they are literally tubes, with curved roofs that are too low to stand up straight against at the sides.

Anyway, I don't envy you your commute.  At least you seem to be taller than most of your fellow passengers!  It's not much fun being wedged into someone's armpit for the whole journey....

Good luck with it....


The Ginza Line and the Marunouchi Line (the oldest two in the system, the Ginza Line dating back to 1927) have different gauge rails and a different type of third rail, and the Oedo Line is quite small (and deep), but the other subways generally come above ground at some point and become regular trains, so the cars are exactly the same size as the surface trains - in fact the surface trains and subway trains are interchanged and run on each others' rails on several lines.  The photo I sent was taken on the Chuo Line, which is a regular surface train all the way.

"In a Car Now"     [Top of page]

Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2003
From: MZJ  [Russia / Japan]

Tsukuba has enabled me to forget about trains like that one, as I drive every day now, for work, shopping, whatever.


Ah... out in Chiba - near to where I recently visited and thought that the tree-lined roads with cars smoothly driving by reminded me of California....

"It Looks Empty..."     [Top of page]

Date: Mon, 07 Jul 2003  +0300
From: KML  [Kenya]

That's quite interesting.  Here in Kenya, crowded public transportation is a common phenomenon.  Only those traveling to 'first world' areas experience more space.

In your photo, according to me, it does not look crowded - it looks empty.

Keep on sending more of such information.  It shows the contrast between different societies....


Empty... hmmm...... now I feel like going out to the most crowded lines at the worst hours to get evidence into the computer.  That said, I suppose many of the train lines in this city of 30,000,000 people have gotten better through an increase in both rail lines and trains.  Whatever anyone says though, when people have to be physically shoved onto the train with force in order to get the doors closed and some are left standing on the platform even though they pushed as hard as they could to get on... I don't think it can get much more crowded than that, at least for people riding within the train and not up on the roof.

Regarding a contrast between different cultures, I'm happy to hear KML is interested in that.  That's what this letter is all about after all - us communicating with each other and learning more about other cultures.

"Never Will I Ride in One of Those!"     [Top of page]

Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003
From: CLM  [US]

NEVER will you find me packed like a sardine into that mad mad world of yours...


"A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words"     [Top of page]

Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2003  -0500
From: CPK  [US]

Re:  'Keep in mind that you're only looking at the people standing in the space between the bench seats which are on both the right and left sides of the train car, so there are two rows of people down there completely out of sight.'

I believe I'd rather be standing.  It boggles the mind!  You must know how cattle feel.  When a semi-truck is hauling cattle, after about a half an hour of shifting - for some reason - all the cows are found facing the same direction.  It must have something to do with airflow or momentum.

I wish I knew what the humorous looking ad is about.  Do these people politely avoid eye contact?  Are pretty girls victims of ogles and gropes??  Do you often encounter a person who all of a sudden has a vomiting attack or needs to go to the restroom?  What is the typical retirement age?  I would imagine older people would have more trouble dealing with those trains....


Several issues here!  Cattle - yes, indeed!  In fact, I've often thought of it in just those terms, that the trains are fundamentally like cattle cars in that the majority of the riders are standing and packed in like... cattle!  The thing about settling into the same direction is interesting.  I think I can imagine how/why they do so.  When the train stops every few minutes with people getting on and off, there's a constant shuffle here and there, but when it's a "Special Commuter Express" (Tsukin-Tokubetsu-Kaisoku) that doesn't stop for over thirty minutes, I have noticed that people adjust themselves into a position that is as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.  I imagine that cattle do the same.

About the advertisement hanging over everyone with the two faces looking shocked at the crowd below - it's an ad for Akihabara, the computer and electronics district where I've bought most of my computers (including the one I'm writing this with now).  The two men have a popular song that has variable words to it, with the standard chorus "Nande daro..." ("I wonder why..." / "Why is it that...").  They sing about something or other and go to the chorus "Nande daro, nande daro...".  I would like to say that I had that poster in mind when I took the picture, but the truth be known, I didn't even notice it until I saw the picture on my computer screen.  I liked it a lot as soon as I noticed it though!

Eye contact - yes, for the most part people don't look at each other directly.  Pretty women having trouble?  Yes, that's an issue.  It's called "chikan" (groping), and they stiffened the laws a few years ago making chikan illegal - not that it was ever considered okay to do so, but there was no specific law against it.  They also made one of the cars on the Saikyo Line a "Women Only" car after 11:00 p.m., but I don't think there are very many lines doing that.  The only one I've noticed is the Saikyo Line.  They probably did so in recognition of the fact that the late night Saikyo Line trains are sometimes over capacity - meaning that even with brute force, not everyone who tries to get on the train is able to....  I should try to get a picture of that, but the problem is, people would likely get angry seeing me photographing what would be considered an embarrassment for the country in general, so it could be a difficult picture to take in several respects.  Difficult to get on the train in the first place, difficult to keep the camera from getting smashed, and difficult to take a picture without being obvious about it and angering people....

After writing the above, I took a train to work and, thinking about it, realized that things really have changed.  With stiffer laws on the books and advertising posters saying "Groping is a Crime!", public awareness together with security men on many of the platforms at night have given women a way to fight back.  I saw a couple of young men drag a middle-aged man off to a train station-side police station once for what was probably chikan.  (I was sitting at a window-side table in a coffee shop facing the police station, and as I worked on my laptop, the man sitting just inside the small station glared menacingly up at me as I glanced out the window from time to time - pondering the scene below.)

A sort of related issue is how they didn't use to (maybe still, I've grown insensitive to it) not turn the lights all the way off in movie theaters.  The first few years, I'd look up at the lights still burning as the movie began (dimmed, but very definitely still on) and think, "Why don't they turn the lights off?!".  For years I wondered about that - until an older woman I was teaching English to told me that there used to be a problem with strange men in dark movie theaters physically harassing women, and so they starting - basically - leaving he lights on!  Ah... there is always a reason for things.  The reason may be good or it may be bad, but there is always some sort of reason!

Restrooms - although long distance trains will often have two or three on a fifteen-car train, for the most part it's a matter of getting off the train at the next stop if you need a restroom.  A possibly related issue is that people here seem to drink (non-alcohol I mean) far less than what I was used to in California.  Maybe it's a way of dealing with the logistics of traveling about in very crowded conditions?

Throwing up... does happen unfortunately.  I was hit myself a few months ago (nasty experience that!), and a couple of years back I found myself on a platform feeling decidedly ill late one night (after drinking way too much at a farewell party for the Russian guy at the PR agency) as the last train was pulling in to the platform... so I pulled a plastic bag out of my backpack and threw up as I was boarding the train!  I had it double bagged fortunately, so nothing leaked while I continued - on the journey - to throw up into the bag... to the horror of the woman standing next to me who was trapped by the pressure of the crush-rush crowd from escaping.  Not proud of that, but it seems funny in hindsight, especially since I didn't get anything on anyone.

Older people on the trains - I do notice more older people in the afternoon when the still crowded trains are at least not excruciatingly and painfully overstuffed.

Let's see... 928 words!  It's true then!  A picture really is worth a thousand words!  Or almost a thousand anyway - if I keep going here for a bit, I can probably bring that up past a thousand.  So... what to say, what to say.  The secret to writing of course, is writing!  All you have to do is start writing something, and then the words come one after another.

999!!  Well, by writing "999", I've reached 1,000!  On to the next letter....     [Top of page]

"Hilarious!"  (One Liner)     [Top of page]

Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2003  +0900
From: CSA  [Australia / Japan]

Hilarious.  It makes me stressed!  How about meeting up next week!


CSA is one of my Australian pals over here in Tokyo, making a living with his computer skills.  That one liner of his pretty much sums up the trains... "Hilarious" and producers of stress!

"It's Better Not to Ask for Directions"     [Top of page]

Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2003  -0500
From: HHE  [US]

Just a bit too much togetherness for me.  I have ridden the NYC subway and the lesson I learned was this:

Never ask a New Yorker for directions on how to get from Point A to Point B on the subway.  True.  I believe it is not done maliciously, but most of the time you will receive misleading information.  How is it in Tokyo?


Ah!  You see?  This is quite true you know - some people think it's pretty funny to give people the wrong directions, which is a very good reason not to ask!  So... men do have some good, solid, practical reasons to be leery of strangers and thus avoid asking them for help.

How is it here in Tokyo?  Although not something I consciously thought of much until the jokes started coming in about men not asking for directions, when I stopped and thought about it, I realized that when I do ask someone for directions, I tend to ask a woman.  I don't make a conscious decision to ask a woman, I just look around, scanning the faces around me to try to pick someone who looks like they might be helpful, and that face nearly always ends up being a woman.  I think they have very nearly always attempted to give me good information - or if they're the xenophobic type, they just refuse to speak to me (all this in the Japanese language, mind you), forcing me to ask someone else.  I should ask my Japanese friends what their experiences are with directions.  As far as the subway system goes though, after riding it for nearly 19 years, at this point, I know it better than just about anyone I know, so I haven't asked for directions in the subway for years now.

"Sea & Stars"     [Top of page]

Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003
From: VKA  [Japan / Vietnam]

Just yesterday evening, I went for a coffee beside Phan Thiet beach, and imagined the scene of sea and stars before my eyes changing into a wave of buildings and crowds, and felt blue... I am afraid I cannot adapt myself to Japanese life, but at the same time, I really miss ajisai [hydrangea] and hanabi [fireworks].  Things are a paradox for me.  It is nearly summer in Japan now....


Ah yes... the eternal "where-best-to-reside" question!  I spend all of my time in the city, and so I continually dream of being out where there are no buildings, people, internal combustion engines, etc.  But when you get completely away from the city, then there are the aspects of city life that you miss.  I think the ideal lifestyle for Tokyo would be to be here from Monday morning until Friday evening, and to take a Shinkansen (high speed super-express train) out of town to sleep in clean air from Friday night through to early Monday morning.  You would have to be filthy-dirty-stinking rich to do that however, and so here I am in Tokyo all the time....

"Lucky at the Beginning of the Line"     [Top of page]

Date: Wed, 9 Jul 2003  +0100
From: APR  [Portugal]

I live in a village, and work as a secondary school teacher - it only takes five minutes to get to work by car and there is no rush hour.  About once a month I go to the big city - 50 km away - usually by train, but this is a terminal station and there are always empty seats; anyway, it hardly ever gets full anyway.  So, from my experience I would say it looks very crowded in the train (although not too crowded, otherwise you wouldn't have been able to take that picture, would you?).  Maybe the passengers look relaxed because they have just got on the train or they are already thinking they will be home soon!  I guess people adapt to circumstances and would feel uneasy in an empty train!  I was in S Paulo two years ago, and once during rush hour I had to wait for three trains before the people who were in front of me could get in. This was the closest experience to hell as a means of transport I have experienced.

One more thing - I recently read a small novel written by a Belgium writer who worked for some years in Japan.  In the book there is a story about a Japanese woman who flirts with a Dutchman.  Later she happens to notice he is sweating... which is unthinkable for people in Japan.  Maybe this explains why the Japanese are so relaxed on the train!


I was able to take that photo by having the camera on top of my backpack, which I was wearing in front of me, so while people were pressed up against the backpack, having that in front of me gave me enough space to set the camera on the backpack just in front of my face during the shuffling, and I was able to aim it in a few directions to get some pictures.

Sweating - while I wouldn't use the term "unthinkable", a lot of people do seem to be horrified by sweat, which leads to abuse of air conditioning!  Another interesting thing to think about here is the fact that a lot of people take in very little liquid during the day, and so their bodies probably try to conserve moisture by not sweating... which makes people feel hotter by the way - without the sweat to cool them down.  That may well be the situation with the refrigerator women I work with - along with the fact that they have a lot of body insulation... if you know what I mean.

"Looks VERY Crowded to Me"     [Top of page]

Date: Tue, 08 Jul 2003  -0400
From: TRR  [Caribbean]

I've heard about how Japan is overpopulated and crowed but whoa!!  I definitely think that that train is very VERY crowded!!  It must be a real task everyday to go through that, but at the same time I agree the picture looks pretty relaxed considering the circumstances.


"One Movie I Didn't Like..."     [Top of page]

(June 22nd, 2003)  I rented a couple of DVDs last week and watched both of them over the weekend.  One was "Training Day" and the other "Magnolia".  I thought "Training Day" was quite interesting, but "Magnolia" left me feeling like I'd spent a few too many hours in an insane asylum visiting with people who had fallen over the edge and were struggling around in quicksand.  I can deal with a certain amount of psychosis in movies, but when virtually the entire cast of characters is out of touch with everything and endlessly going off the track in a demented way.  Yuck!  I wouldn't even bring it up, but it got me to thinking (again) about the way that different languages get you to think in different ways and that it's truly tragic when people mistake words for meaning - largely (entirely?) missing the point that real thoughts, real intentions, real meaning is what comes before words.  Words are only sloppy tools to represent wordless ideas.  All that said, I strongly suspect that movie was a poor attempt at copying "Terms of Endearment" (1983) which was an emotional movie, but one that worked.

Hoo-boy - look what that movie did to me!  There I am rambling away about nonsense!

Linux.  I'm writing this with KWord - a program that comes with RedHat Linux.  I really don't know which programs I'll ultimately end up using, but I like to have options, so I'm wading deeper into Linux - bit by bit....  I still don't understand very well how to install individual programs within Linux though!  I suppose one reason the program is relatively safe against hackers is that it's more difficult to change the program in a casual way, but at some point I need to know how to consistently and predictably add and remove programs.  Any suggestions for documentation I can read related to this?

"Repeat of Train-Photo Text"     [Top of page]

From: Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon
To: Everyone
Sent: Sunday, July 06, 2003
Subject: "Fun on the Train... HaHaHoHo-Ouch!"

"Fun on the Train...  HaHaHoHo-Ouch!" [Photo page]

I took this on a rather unpleasant ride home one day last week... and - as is always the case - I am amazed at how settled and relaxed the picture looks.  Nothing like the claustrophobic feelings bringing on near panic while waiting for the suffering of being smashed into strangers in a stuffy train car to end....

So, how does it look to you?  Crowded?  Not crowded?  Only a little crowded?  Very crowded?  Not crowded at all?  (There is all that empty space above the heads after all - they could load more bodies in on top of everyone to increase efficiency....).  Keep in mind that you're only looking at the people standing in the space between the bench seats which are on both the right and left sides of the train car, so there are two rows of people down there completely out of sight.


Sorry for the repeat there, but since this ended up being a sort of "Special Issue" about crowded trains, I thought it might be good to have the text of the letter that everyone was responding to here together with the answers.

Sore dewa!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon, Images Through Glass
LLLtrs@yahoo.com - Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
July 17th, 2003 - (IppanHozon/LL320/HRE040614)
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