The lazy way to show what's between two points on a rail line, is to aim a motion picture camera out the window. There are three basic ways of doing this: 1) Angle the camera forward, 2) Look straight out perpendicular to the direction of travel, or 3) Angle the camera rearward. When objects are far away, #2 can be nice, but in Tokyo, generally there are buildings quite close to the railway, so looking straight out produces a very ugly effect of blurred jerky boxes, as the camera's 30-images per second isn't nearly fast enough to deal with the speed of objects passing by the lens. That leaves either looking forward or looking rearward (unless you're at the extreme ends of the train, where you can look directly forward or directly rearward). For this video I looked rearward at an angle, since that direction contained the receding skyline of Shinjuku:
This was taken in the early evening on a weekday, just before the evening crush rush got into high gear. The Chuo Line is the (or "one-of-the", but I think "the") most crowded train lines in Japan ("crowded" meaning "high-density of people in each train car"). One reason for this is that other major JR lines heading out of central Tokyo (Tokaido Line, Joban Line, Sobu Line [to Chiba]) have fifteen-car trains, but the Chuo Line is limited to just ten due to the length of its unexpandable platforms within central Tokyo. They try to make up for it by running a lot of trains, but still, the Chuo Line is basically crowded any time of the day or night. There is also the fact that the Chuo Line is a long line, with many stations in highly-populated areas, so it's not only crowded in one direction in the morning (and in the opposite direction in the evening), but rather in both directions - all the time.
"Competition for Misery" might be a good title to describe how Tokyo residents endlessly claim that their own train line is "definitely the most crowded line in Tokyo". I've heard this claim for just about every line here! The Odakyu Line, the Tozai Line, The Seibu-Ikebukuro Line (of "Actually Full Train" fame), the Chuo Line, etc. etc. The thing to keep in mind here is that most people are focusing on the morning rush, and once you're at the point where people have to force their way aboard, the density per train car is only limited by the particular size of the passengers at the time (and place), plus their strength and will to get on. (More diminutive people can fit into a given space, but larger people also push harder, so maximum density would likely be achieved with diminutive people getting on first, and then large, strong people providing compacting power at the doors just before they close.) The Chuo Line is distinctive for having a very high (the highest I think) density *on average* for *the entire day*. A lot of lines will be quite intense in the morning crush-rush, but then have several empty seats just a few hours later.
June, 2009... companies are beginning to cancel flex time!!! This can only mean that the morning trains will be more highly packed. Maybe the scene in "Actually Full Train in 1991 - Why Flex-Time is a Good Idea" isn't just a scene from the past after all! (Shudder!!!)
"Excesses During the Bubble Years"
Just when I was getting used to watching my 1991 videos and thinking: "The 'bubble years'! Not the 'excess-of-everything' that people think!", I stumbled upon myself visiting a new public restroom near Sumida River in July 1991. It was in a building worthy of something nice (not sure what), had a fountain(!) just inside the main entrance, music playing on a PA system, and was squeaky-clean:
I suppose this is probably an example of "bubble-era excess".
4:45 a.m. Ouch. I need to get some sleep!
Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon