All About Japan

5 Reasons to Use Metropolitan Trains

| Transportation , Trains

For many, getting on an obnoxiously crowded train at 7 a.m. and dashing to catch the last train at the end of the day is incredibly stressful. If we look at our daily routine from a different perspective, however, we realize the trains aren't something to malign. So why not consider these five benefits of taking metropolitan commuter trains!

5. Excuse Yourself From Drinking Parties

I’m sure that most of us have experienced a time when we wanted to leave a party (whether alcohol was involved or not) but couldn’t come up with good excuse. “I have to leave now or I’ll miss the last train” is a perfectly acceptable line to drop in the middle of any conversation, as it will allow you leave a bar or restaurant without hassle.

Be careful, however, when someone asks you the name of your nearest station, because in this age of information and technology they can easily find an alternative way to get you home—or discover your last train doesn't leave for over an hour!

4. Catch Up On Sleep

As anyone who's been in Japan long enough will attest, this might be the most efficient way to spend time on trains. In fact, some people claim they can fall asleep much faster on trains than in bed. When you get good at sleeping on a train, you'll be able to sleep while standing and take power-naps on a three-minute ride between just two stations.

3. Meet New People (& Possibly Your Future Partners)

While the great majority of people on trains don't talk with strangers (at least not north of Kansai!), there's a chance you'll find your future partner on your way to and from your destination. Just look at Train Man (Densha Otoko), the 2004 novel that went on to become a smash-hit manga, TV series and movie: it was based on the purportedly true relationship between a nerdy guy and a beautiful woman who first meet on a train. While I'll admit this rarely happens in real life, it doesn’t always have to be about romance, does it?

2. Discover The Latest Products & Services

When on trains, we're almost forced to see a variety of advertisements on the walls and windows. Looking above and around is one of the best ways to avoid making eye contact with others, and companies seem to know exactly what kind of products commuters are attracted to.

Advertisements for eikaiwa (English conversation) schools are targeted at people whose lives would, perhaps, become more international with the acquisition of a second language they may have given up on once or twice. Other products frequently found on trains include medicine, skin- and hair-care products (hair removal salons during summer, etc.), alcoholic beverages, and books.

1. Learn To Manage Anger

While this may sound comical, it’s no joke. With over 10 years of commuting experience, I'm still not used to trains during rush hour. Yet I’ve learned to manage my anger and become a forgiving commuter on each ride.

At peak occupancy hours, most commuters simply don’t care if they step on someone’s foot, push people in and out of trains as if they were a jumble of baggage, or, of course, get crammed so close to strangers the sound of their breath—and possibly even heartbeat—is audible. If we can remain calm and tolerant when these things happen to us (and most of us do), we should be able lead a less stressful life—at least theoretically!