Does anyone remember the (really, really old) Straight Dope about the “pushers” (oshiya) on the Tokyo subways whose job it supposedly is to cram as many commuters as possible into crowded subway cars during rush hour? And the part about how some of them are retired Sumo wrestlers?
Well, I’ve been here in Tokyo for six months and I have ridden plenty of crowded trains at rush hour. I have yet to see any pushers at all, let alone retired oSumo-sans. There are station employees who stand near the trains as the passengers board, but they seem to be there mainly to make sure everyone gets on safely (many folks run at the trains at high speeds). I have never seen them touch anyone. And none of them look remotely like retired Sumo wrestlers, although I suppose they could have lost some weight…
So what gives? Was Cecil actually wrong, or was he just pulling everyone’s leg and I’m too dumb to realize?
By the way…since there isn’t actually anyone to push you on to the train, the way to get into a car that is already filled past capacity is as follows:
- run up to the door
- turn around so that your back is facing the door
- brace your hands against the inside of the car just above the doorway
- step backwards on to the train, pushing every other passenger in the vicinity out of the way using your butt.
- hold this position until a)someone else comes along and does the same or b) the doors close…at which point you can relax and the force of the crowd behind you will force your entire body against the door. After a while, you will learn to sleep in this position just like everyone else.