The end of fast lanes in train stations in Tokyo

People in Tokyo stand on the left side of escalators leaving a passing lane on the right for those in a rush. People in Osaka do the opposite, they stand on the right side and let people rush on the left side. It’s been this way for a few decades, so pretty much everyone is familiar with this practice. When I first arrived in Japan, I was surprised in a very nice way because I thought this habit showed a high level of organization or order that characterizes the Japanese people. This custom also applies to walking on the street, but to a slightly lesser degree. However, JR East has recently placed stickers in every station asking commuters not to walk on the escalators, just stand. Have people changed this habit already?

So, what triggered this sudden change? People are so used to the current system that it doesn’t make sense to alter it, right? Nevertheless, a steady increase of accidents (on average, there was one accident each working day) in recent years and a further analysis led to one conclusion: many accidents happened because of people rushing like crazy on the escalators not to miss the next train.

I am a bit skeptical about their theory, since I was quite sure that most accidents occurred because of people talking/checking their phones or being drunk, but I do remember accidents such as this one, last April, in which a 60 year old woman died after being hit by a man falling down the stairs. It wasn’t a escalator that time, but a a normal staircase.

Although I can understand where JR East stands, what they are requesting will take too long to be accomplished. It’s basically an everyday habit what they’re trying to change. I haven’t seen any differences as of now.

Source: Wanted: better escalator manners (The Japan Times 2013)

Eduardo H.

Japanese Comedy

Comedy in Japan is a wholly different thing than its Western counterpart. The popular tradition of stand up of Western is missing from the Japanese islands. Instead, there is manzai , batsu games and variety shows.

Manzai is a two man comedy act: two comedians trying to outdo each other’s jokes, usually at great speed. Manzai is most commonly associated with Osaka, and more specifically, to its Comedy museum.

Batsu comedy is a type of punishment game: for example, a comedian might have to endure some time without laughing. Failure to do this, will result in a type of punishment; spanking, a pie to the face, a kick in the groin, etc, for the audience’s amusement of course.

Variety shows combine both, but also include skits, that if popular, become weekly regulars. Some famous skits have been Go Renjaa from Gaki no Tsukai and Teburaashika in Pikari no Teiri.

Personally, I find Gaki no Tsukai’s batsu skits and Pikari no Teiri’s comedy shows highly amusing. But I still miss the stand up of comedians like John Leguizamo, Dave Chappelle and Kevin Hart.