Footage has gone viral which will absolutely horrify anyone who likes having a bit of personal space while travelling on public transport.
The video in question, which has been uploaded to the r/nextfuckinglevel subreddit community, shows a group of professional ‘train pushers’ at work in Tokyo’s subway network.
Admittedly, I didn’t realise this was an actual job until today and – in the wake of pandemic era travel – I’d forgotten what it feels like to squash yourself so tightly into a carriage that you fear your eyes will actually pop out. Watching this vid has, jarringly, brought that sensation right back.
Check it out:
The Japanese railway system is renowned for its efficiency, but those who use it may need to breathe in a bit from time-to-time.
As reported by Amusing Planet, most Tokyo subway trains every five minutes – or every two to three minutes during peak times – meaning there are around 24 trains going in the same direction every single hour. However, despite the impressive number of regular trains, overcrowding can still be an issue, especially in years gone by.
As per 2007 data from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport about levels of congestion at Various Tokyo subway stations of Tokyo’s subway, almost all were found to operate at over capacity, with some running at as much as 200% over capacity.
In order to make sure as many people as possible are packed into the train carriages, oshiyas or ‘subway pushers’ are hired to cram people in through the doors using their own gloved hands.
Pushers were first introduced at Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station many decades ago, and were referred to more politely as ‘passenger arrangement staff’. Back in the 1960s and 70s, these would usually be students looking for a bit of part-time income.
Although there are no dedicated oshiyas nowadays – with overcrowding on subway lines having seen a significant reduction – station staff and part-time workers will still step into these roles when rush hour hits.
Travelling on the Tokyo subway system can still make for an intense experience, and many of those who’ve seen this recent video have been reminded of their own nightmarish commuter experiences in Japan’s bustling capital city.
One commenter, who has lived in Tokyo for 12 years, advised:
At big stations, there will be a flood of people out the door, so that’s not a problem. If you’re trying to get off at a small station, however, you might need to join in the flood before your stop, then turn around and hop back on at the last minute. That way you are right by the door when it gets to your stop.
Another person, whose friend was employed as a pusher as a student, revealed there’s ‘a whole etiquette about how you push and how you prepare to be pushed’, even if the footage does make it look like absolute chaos:
He said the commuter will stand a certain way and give you a look that indicates they are ready to be pushed and that you only push them in by pushing certain parts of the body in a very polite way.
You don’t just shove any part of them as hard as possible. The person pushing in the passenger with the red jacket/sweater is doing it the polite way.
Think I’d be tempted to just walk it to be honest…
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