The People Pushers – by Melissa

During rush hour in Tokyo, if you’re not willing to push your way onto the train, some one else will do it for you.  The oshiya, metro workers paid to push people from the platform into the train cars, bare the burden of rush hour rudeness.  This system began in the 1970s as commuting trends in Tokyo grew more rapidly than the frequency of running trains. Now perhaps non-existent in Tokyo proper, oshiya can be found in the suburbs in the morning pushing “salarymen” onto inbound trains to downtown Tokyo.  If you’ve relied on the NYC Metro during rush hour, your first response might be to wonder why these guys aren’t getting caned by the angry elderly or clocked by the always-doing-businessmen.  On the Tokyo Metro, the idea is that everyone knows they’ve got to work together to get to work on time.  Notice the polite tone with which the oshiya say “Onegaishimasu,” please.  Their white gloves are also a sign of respect showing that they’re not handling or mussing the commuters but rather helping them, careful of their clothing, onto the train.  If you happen to be a commuter, this is old hat for you.  You don’t protect your personal space or stand stiffly in the spot you desire, but just go with the flow until everyone is on the train.


Filed under Japan

2 responses to “The People Pushers – by Melissa

  1. Ive seen that video before. It is too much. Reminds me of Boston Green line on a Sat night around 11pm. I love the carefulness of the “pushers” when closing the door. I wouldn’t want to be pressed against the door though.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I’ve been in a packed train like that in Tokyo and Hong Kong. My backpack actually got stuck in the doors just seconds before we took off. I didn’t get pushed though. I just forced my bag through. Though it’s funny to see the pushers.

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