Bustling Tokyo: Shinjuku Station

Tokyo’s Underground System

After the silent Shinkansen ride where everyone was quiet, and extremely orderly, I arrived in Tokyo.  The capital of Japan, Tokyo was a completely different story from Osaka, Kyoto and Nara.  With a population of 13 million people it was bustling with people.  Everywhere I went, I was surrounded by people.

At first glance of the underground map, I thought I was looking at a painting by Jackson Pollock with coloured lines and dots scattered all around the page in seemingly random patterns.  It was a piece of art in itself, but upon close study of it, you realize that there was really quite a lot of sense in all this chaos and a pattern emerged.  This combination of JR trains, Toei Line Trains, or Tokyo Metro Line allowed you to go anywhere you wanted to.  It is no wonder that Japan has one of the most extensive network of surface lines in the world.
I stopped at Shinjuku station to see what this shopping area was all about and was completely at awe at the amount of people bustling here and there under the neon lights, each hurrying to reach their destination, each knowing exactly where to go, each with their own life.  I feel like this could easily be made into a movie.  Two random lives, commuting to work in Tokyo, crossing paths in Shinjuku to someday meet and begin a whole new life story.
Who knows, these strangers turned friends could have sat or stood next to each other before, but never recognized each other.  Life is so fascinating.  It must have happened I am sure.
People, people, people
I stand in a corner dazed at the people rushing by, quietly on their way to their destination.  It’s not loud or noisy with continuous announcements on the speaker system, people in Japan are very considerate of each other.  All you hear is the sound of hundreds of shoes interacting with the paved floor, clothes fluttering by, machines opening and closing their little gates, and soft whispers of people traveling together.
I stand in a quiet corner and am reminded of a scene from Murakami’s book where Okada sits by watching people at Shinjuku station.  I wonder if people passing by remember the hundreds of faces they saw today.  I wonder if there is someone else watching me like I am watching them. 

I start to grow dizzy and come back to reality and discover that Shinjuku station  is the busiest train station in the world used by roughly 3.6 million people a day.  (This is 2007 data, more people must be using it now!)  With 200 exits Shinjuku is also in the Guinness book of World Records.  Can you believe that?  I wonder how many people like me got lost and took the wrong exit and have to find their way back underground.

Standing at Shinjuku station I am reminded that each of our lives like others’ here is one of the billions of lives on this earth.  Each on our way, each on our own path, random yet with a pattern. Each with an end, and each with a story of one’s own.