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How Crowded Is the Tokyo Subway during Rush Hour?

Nearly 9 million commuters use the subway rail network to get around Tokyo. Not surprisingly, trains are packed during rush hour. But “packed” doesn’t really describe the level of cheek-to-jowl congestion on these train cars, many of which run at twice the normal capacity. To achieve maximum efficiency, the rail lines employ dedicated white-gloved “pushers,” known as oshiya, to get as many people as possible onto the trains and close the doors behind them.

A dfferent kind of subway sandwich:

  • Commuters are sometimes squished so tightly during rush hour that no one can move. And getting off at the right station requires a lot of strength and determination.
  • The Tokyo subway system has also created women-only carriages to make travel more safe for female commuters.
  • Subway pushers originated in New York, about a century ago. Their brutality earned them the nickname “sardine packers.” The practice faded during the 1920s when automatic doors were introduced.
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