February 29, 2008

Does Japan Have Capacity Laws?
Lima, Peru

I'd like to go to Japan, but I'm deathly afraid of two things that I'd find there: Tremendously high prices and extreme levels of urban overcrowding.

I came across this video of a artificial wave swimming pool in Tokyo, and thought to myself, This is totally nuts… Where are the capacity laws?


(video link)

I get the impression that the Japanese are generally fearful of their police state government, and as a result are a law-abiding bunch—though perhaps a notch below Singapore.

But with the dense urban living conditions, claustrophobically packed mass transit, and an (apparent) lack of cultural personal space, I'm left wondering if lawsuit mitigation is the only reason one would even bother posting such a thing as a capacity limit in Japan. Then, again, I've never been to Japan, and don't even know if such things exist there.

Comments:

The United States

T-Mobile

February 29th, 2008

That video is scary.

The United States

Katie M

February 29th, 2008

You should go - so many awesome things to see in Japan! Especially what's left of their small villages and country side! It'll be an adventure!

Australia

Brodie

March 2nd, 2008

Sure they have capacity laws. Even the extremely overcrowded morning commuter trains have plaques on the side of them giving the rated maximum capacity, on average around 150. I counted/guestimated the number in one of my train carriages as being close to 250.

So yeah, they are overloading the trains. No-one would ever dispute that even in Japan. I guess that they are just being pragmatic about it. They have a huge population, all trying to get to work at the same time in the morning and the train lines are already running at full capacity. They are building new lines, and spend huge amounts on the train lines to get the trains running a little quicker in the hope of squeezing another train into the schedule.

I do find the train system quite impressive. For instance, on the yamanote loop line around Tokyo, the trains are long - 11 carriages, 120 metres, 130 yards (or 10 yards more than a football field). They run these trains in the morning with a peak of 24 trains in each direction on a line with only 29 stations. The trains arrive and leave within a minute, and the time to the next train is usually less than a minute. A delay of more than a minute on the lines will see train platforms fill to overflowing (literally in the major stations).

That's just one line. Then think about the major stations, like Shinjuku station in Tokyo that sees an average of 3.5 million people use it every weekday (most in the world). It's an experience that I enjoy as an experience, but not in everyday life.

Sure they are missing the point and should be working harder to spread the population around the country, implement split hours working, encourage telecommuting, etc. Ignore that for the moment though and marvel at their impressive display of logistics skill.

Source: personal experience and http://tinyurl.com/5y4tb (in Japanese)

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