(2015/12/08) - I look around at the others in this early morning coffee shop. While ages seem to range from people in their twenties up to late fifties (possibly a person here or there past the sixty barrier), the majority seem to be in their late forties and into the full spectrum of fifties. Speculation mainly (not purely - there is evidence), but just about everyone is here - before 7:00 a.m. - because they came into town early to escape the purgatory of the peak crush-rush commute via the steel rails.
It was different when flex-time was fairly common, but when the banksters trashed the world economy in 2007-08, many (most?) large companies (and small?) canceled flex-time and reverted to requiring that employees be at their desks by 9:00 a.m. And so people who had gotten used to a less intense morning commute had only one method of escape; taking earlier trains. But there are so many people doing this, that even the 5:30-6:30 trains are now quite crowded. When I ride the Yamanote Line around 6:30 a.m., I always kind of shake my head at the sight of it being packed not far below the infamous "manin" (満員) level of density. I look around the interior of the packed train, and then down at my watch, "Yup, there it is... it really is 6:30 a.m...", and back at the people around me, "... and all these people!".
And then I see a portion of them killing time in a train station coffee shop - waiting for their buildings to open so they can get to their desks. It seems very clear why they're here - certainly it's why I'm here....
Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon