July 17th, 2009

ueno kouen

Things You May Not Know About Ikebukuro

Before I complain about how hot and nasty the weather is in Tokyo (exacerbated by crowding, too much walking, and a distinct under- (and/or mis-) utilization of air-conditioning... Oh, forget it, it's hot and nasty already. Going to enjoy summer in Denver, oh, yes, I will.

Instead, I'm going to talk about my commute.

Now, as you may know, there are a lot of trains in Japan. More to the point, there are a lot of people on trains in Japan. In the Tokyo metropolitan area alone, 20 million people use the trains and subways (which, other than -- usually -- going underground, are the same thing. In fact, many of the subway lines actually carry trains from other non-subway, non-JR lines connected to the subway lines). To give that a sense of perspective, the entire country of Germany only has 10 million daily rail passengers, the highest in Europe. And Germany has more than double the population of metro Tokyo (82 to 35 million). Safe to say, there are a lot of people on Tokyo trains, and they're packed in there. I should know, they have the white-gloved station attendants pushing people into the doors at my station during the morning rush hour.

So... Some facts you may not know about Ikebukuro.

People generally think of Tokyo as being the main station in Tokyo (for some obvious reasons). And it is the main hub, especially for long distance travelers, since that's where the Tokaido Shinkansen (Osaka-Tokyo) meets the JR East Shinakansen lines (Nagano, Joetsu, Yamagata, Tohoko, and Akita lines -- not as busy, any of them, but more of them). By number of trains, it's the busiest in Japan, but by passengers, it only rates as the fifth busiest station on JR East (the dominant rail carrier in Tokyo, although there are a number of other major carriers), and thirteenth busiest on the Tokyo Metro. Yokohama actually edges it out for the number four spot on JR East.

And then people think of Shinjuku station. And on JR East, it does carry about a third more passengers than Ikebukuro at number two. Of course, my station, Ikebukuro, carries more than double the passengers as Shinjuku via the Tokyo Metro, where it's only the sixth busiest station in the network. Combined JR and Metro, Ikebukuro actually has more passengers. Ikebukuro is my primary transfer point; I switch from the Seibu Ikebukuro line to the JR there.

That's one thing you should know about my commute.

Of course, there are other carriers besides the Tokyo Metro and JR East. And when those are taken into account, Shinjuku does retake the lead, with 3.67 million passengers per day, about a third of which are on non-JR, non-Metro carriers. Of course, I transfer trains in that station, too.

That's the other thing you should know about my commute.

Just for good measure, after nabbing the busiest train station in the world and the second busiest train station in Tokyo (possibly the world, but don't actually know, at a mere 2.71 million passengers), I also get number seven, Takadanobaba, for good measure (although after those, it's hard to notice a mere nine hundred thousand people). In fact, just by riding around the Yamanote line, you can get seven of the top eight (only missing Yokohama at number four, behind Shibuya -- that eight-station stretch of the Yamanote loop on the west side is busy). You might actually be hitting the next few busiest stations, too, but the list I had only went to eight.

This is one of the main reasons I'm going to be moving somewhere else next semester.
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    tired tired


So, today, we had to do speeches. It sucked. I probably did fine (we'll see how I get graded -- even so, it's on the order of one percent of my total grade), but was stressful and annoying and got in the way of actual study time for the whole end-of-semester thing. You know. Finals. And I'm already kind of burned out (the long commute and dorm living thing don't help, but it just seems that the class is just going slightly too fast for me, which I suppose means I'm probably getting a B instead of an A, unless I really fall apart in the final. I guess I shouldn't whine about that, but I've felt behind the power curve for a while, and have been switching my study strategies a bit late to be effective this semester. I'm not the worst student in the class, certainly, but kind of feel like I'm more or less on the bottom end of the people who will be continuing next semester).

Anyway, this is more or less my speech. I made some last-minute edits which may or may not have made it back into this text, and also a few changes on the fly, but here it is. It kind of sucks. The high point was actually the pictures I brought to show (via iPhone on the TV we have in the class for videos and such -- links in speech for pictures I used). In hindsight, I should have just done a slide show with Japanese explanations of the pictures instead. It would have been a lot easier to ad-lib, and way easier to memorize (I completely forgot my speech when I was up there, and it pretty much went off the rails for the second half, when I just read it off my sheet, or at least it seemed that way to me).




私が住む町はコロラドのデンバーです。「Mile High City」という町です。高度が1マイルです。それは1.6キロです。山が近いのに、本当にデンバーは平地にあります。ですから、山が好きだったら、とても便利なところです。でも、ほかの町が遠いです。ですから、デンバーへ行くのがちょっと難しいです。人があまり多くありません。







1I actually said さま here, which got a laugh.2

2Also, now that I think about it, I said つまらないスピーチですが、どうぞ before I started, which also got a laugh. I'm nothing if not excessive with stupid jokes and hamming it up in Japanese.
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    annoyed annoyed