The JR Yamanote Line Experience

Taking the JR Line during rush hour may not be a.......

By Lindo Korchi    - 4 min read

"How would it be to experience riding the JR Yamanote Line from Ueno Station to Shinjuku Station during rush hour?" I thought. But what was the genesis of this? Here it is:

A friend of mine shared with me a video of a few Japanese train assistants pushing passengers inside a train, since the train doors wouldn't close on their own. And since the passengers didn't want to leave, they were simply pushed in. We were both surprised, yet stoked by the video.

Me: "We need to experience that!"

Joel: "You want to get pushed, man?"

Me: "That's an unreal experience. I'm curious if it would happen. And if so, it would happen during rush hour when people are going to work."

He laughed. Some of my friends had said they were interested as well. The next morning, at around 7AM to be exact, I found myself alone. I had been the only person in my group to go to Ueno Station at 7AM. I chose the JR Yamanote Line due to it being one of the busiest in Japan, and planned to go to Shinjuku Station.

As people swarm into the train, I waited patiently. It was quite full; but it wasn't time. 4th train, 5th train, 6th train came by, but it wasn't time yet.

"I wonder why their faces look despaired. It's just a train ride." I thought, as I saw the passengers onboard the train.

After some time, a train came by and it got full, a little more full than the previous ones. It was now my turn. I went in, and it was packed! One of the train assistants came by and pushed my leg. I instantly thought of the video I watched with my friend the previous day and just laughed. Unbelievable. I couldn't believe that I actually got pushed in the train. But, let me tell you, that quick moment of laughter ended real quick. Let me emphasis: Real Quick!

Each time the train departed, my face was plastered on the train window. Not only did people at each stop have to view such a thing, but as soon as the doors opened, I, along with the plethora of passengers next to me, were pushed out. Let me emphasis: pushed out by passengers scurrying out the train.

"That's great news!" you may say.

Oh, no. It was at this time that I realized my group of friends were wise enough to avoid taking the train during rush hour. As soon as passengers got off the train, a massive flood of people went in.

I originally wanted to experience the typical Japanese rush hour commute from Ueno Station to Shinjuku Station, and to see if it would get busy enough that station staff would need to push you in the train. But by the time my plastered face made it to Hamamatsucho Station, and I was pushed out the train for the 7th time, I decided enough was enough.

I jumped straight to the JR Yamanote Line on the other end, which was heading back to Ueno. I didn't expect the train to be massively jammed since it wasn't heading towards Shinjuku, Shibuya, or Harajuku. But in a way, it was. And that's because the Yamanote line is a railway loopline in Tokyo. And many of the busiest districts are located within the loopline. So, yes, it was also packed when I headed to Ueno Station.

By the time my plastered face made it back to Ueno Station, I was exhausted. I was pushed out for the 14th, and last time. My face despaired and body exhausted. I turned my head around and saw a fellow foreigner, filled with energy and positivity. I was sure he was thinking one thing: "I wonder why their faces look despaired. It's just a train ride."

Oh, if he only knew.

Since that time, I aimed to not take the train during rush hours. Or, if possible, to take another train. Oh, be wise out there.

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Lindo Korchi

Lindo Korchi @lindo.korchi

One Life. You gotta go and give it everything you got! Chase after your goals, love the journey, and lift people up along the way. It's all upside from there. - Lindo Korchi