Tuesday, April 12, 2005

This is why I hold both hands on the overhead strap on the trains.

There has been a lot of attention paid to the groping of women on Japanese trains lately. Personally I think is a little bit of overkill. If anyone has ever ridden the Tokkaido line at ten o clock on a Wednesday night, you know you are going to be smashed into the car with about 150 of your closest drunken Japanese friends. If you are lucky you get smashed in between 3 pretty ladies with nice perfume. My usual experience is quite the opposite, usually 3 or 4 guys reeking of stale beer. Either way though I keep my hands held high on the strap and keep both hands up so they can be seen plainly. As a Gaijin, I know I'll get the blame if a "hentai" (pervert) incident occurs. I've only seen one in 5 years here. And the cops came on at the next station and dragged the guy off the train. Imagine trying to explain that to your company the next morning. Or maybe your wife.....

Nonetheless it gets a lot of media play. The number normally cited is 2,201 groping cases in 2004, which is up over 100% from 1996 when the last statistics were published. Now in a train system that moves 7, 000,000 people a day, statistically speaking that's still pretty good. However if you are a school girl in uniform on her way home, one probably has a very different opinion. So I keep my hands held high and in plain sight.

Women only cars:


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