December 25, 1998 (a work day in Japan) - This is the station where we catch a train to work everyday. We live directly between 3 stations. We go to this one everyday for 2 reasons:
1. The walk from home to Nakameguro station is downhill
2. If we stand in line and wait, we can always get a seat
Point number 1 didn't take us long to figure out - it's really easy to figure out which way is uphill and which way is downhill. Point number 2, though was a little bit more subtle and we didn't get the general jist of the system until after a couple months. Nakameguro is a good station because it is the last subway station on the Hibiya Line. People wait for a train by queing up 3 across on designated circles that tell you where the train will stop. All trains stop EXACTLY where they should to allow the 3 lines of people to enter at every door. There are always more people than seats, so we always tried to get into a short line. However, one day we noticed some people trying to "cut" ahead in line. They were lining up 6 across in the front. We were not very happy until we realized that these people were not cutting in line, they were forming a second new line that would wait for the 2nd train to arrive. It is ingenious. The first 3 lines of people get on the first train that arrives. Then, the next 3 lines of people slide over to the left and wait to board the 2nd train that arrives. Many trains pull in empty, but some trains pull into Nakameguro full of people who boarded the adjoining Toyoko line from as far away as Yokohama. These trains do not stop in front of the people who are lined up!! They stop so that the doors open half-way between the queues on the designated circles. It is absolutely ingenious.
ps. It was not until we'd lived here nearly a year, that Tara was able to read the train indicator that told her when the next train arriving was going to be full or empty!!
pps. My friend from work, Kondo san, also tells me that only in Tokyo do people queue up so orderly for the trains. He says that in Osaka, getting on a train is a free for all! We're glad we live in Tokyo.
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