Friday, 3 December 2010


How good not to be travelling on the Tokyo underground, along with 8 million people a day.

"To the uninitiated, the striking thing about these images from photographer Michael Wolf's new book Tokyo Compression, aside from the lengths to which otherwise sane people will go to wedge themselves into an already bulging carriage, must be the looks of resignation among the victims. But it is the ability to tolerate an elbow in the back and a cheek unceremoniously pasted against a window that sets Tokyo's commuters apart. There are few arguments, and fights are almost unheard of; it's as if the powerless, massed ranks of the travelling public have entered into a non-aggression pact – and one that is observed, for the most part, in near silence.

"That doesn't mean Tokyoites are above misbehaving in transit. An epidemic of groping led to the introduction of women-only carriages. Frequent breakdowns in etiquette were the inspiration behind a monthly Do It At Home poster campaign to remind commuters of their manners. The list of transgressions ranges from the obvious (cranking up the volume on an iPod) to the more idiosyncratic (turning a wet umbrella into a makeshift nine-iron for a spot of golf swing practice). " (Guardian, 1 December)

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