Journals from Rikkyo University, Japan
2010-05-02 Train, part 2
Five-Story Pagoda in Asakusa, when I went on a fieldtrip with my History class
For those of you who read my previous journal, you already know about how packed the trains can get in Japan during rush hour in the morning as well as the evening. Even though it is a pain, it cannot be helped. The main mode of transportation is the train; not many people even own cars, which is quite different from American culture. People also use buses but they take longer, so people find it more convenient to travel by train.
Another thing that I would like to talk about is something that I think everyone who is planning on studying abroad in Japan will experience at least one time during their stay: train accidents. The trains in Japan are well-known for their punctuality, so if a train is even a couple minutes late people start to get antsy. While there are many reasons why a train could be running late, such as having snow, the main reason why a train would run late is due to accidents. And no, they are not mechanical accidents (although that could be a possibility). Sometimes when a train is coming at very fast speeds, people will jump in front of the train to kill themselves. In Japanese, it is called jinshin-jiko. It is shocking that people would go to such lengths to kill themselves, but as odd and horrible as it sounds, it is very common in Japan.
When jinshin-jiko occurs, it causes all the trains on that line to become late, usually around 1-2 hours. So if an accident happens during rush hour, you can imagine how much more crowded a train becomes since less trains are coming. Because of the delay that the accident causes, the family of the person who jumped in front of the train is forced to pay the train line for all of problems that it caused, usually around 25,000 USD (according to one of my friends). These past two weeks, there have been about 5 separate occasions on the line that I live on (Tobu Tojo), two of them being at morning and evening rush hour. But as I said before, it is just one of those things that are out of our control, so we just have to make the best out of an awful situation.