The excrement express

Waiting for a train last night at the notoriously busy Shinjuku Station, my friend and I were surprised to see our train pull in with the carriage nearest to us practically empty. Considering the rest of the train was as horribly packed as usual, we predicted foul play. The most likely offender being the contents of a drunken salary man’s stomach.

But our surprise at seeing a near deserted carriage paled into insignificance to the feelings we had when the doors finally opened. As there for everyone on the platform to gaze in wonder at, was a train car floor festoon with faeces.

Whilst I didn’t go nearer for a closer inspection, there was no doubting the substance was bodily waste. And the expressions of the few hardy commuters actually traveling in the same compartment said it all. One man was even pinching the end of his nose in a desperate attempt to block out the presumably overpowering smell.

What on earth happened remains a mystery. But whatever transpired, the train must have been packed at the time. Which it goes without saying must have been unpleasant (to say the least) for all concerned.

Instant gratification

I write this as I desperately wait for a plane to take me to Osaka. And if you can get the time off work, I heartily recommend you head in the same direction. As it has just come to my attention that Nissin’s unbelievably exciting Instant Ramen Museum has just reopened after being closed for renovations.

As you can imagine, my mind is in a complete whir at the thought of what joys await. And if I’m lucky enough, I may even catch the inventor of instant ramen, Momofuku Ando, giving one of his legendary the making of cup noodle speeches. I simply can’t wait.

As a brief taster, and one that will undoubtedly have you packing your bags and booking tickets quicker than you can make a tasty hot snack, here’s one of the rumoured exhibits.


Concession to cuteness

Now call me miserable if you want to (and don’t worry, you won’t be the first) but I find the Japanese obsession with cuteness nauseating at best. The rule that cute equals good is a false one in my book.

But that said, this sign outside a school I came across today did manage to warm the cockles of my cynical heart.



Random observation #1

Why, after riding bikes for most of their lives (and on an almost daily basis), are middle-aged Japanese women the wobbliest and worst cyclists in the world?

Tire terror

As the amount of books on the subject testifies, there are numerous ways of dealing with and countering stress. Some people exercise, others watch films, and many simply soak themselves in alcohol.

However 54-year-old Osami Arikawa found a somewhat unconventional approach to his stress problem. For over 2 ½ years he went on a car tire slashing spree. Taking out his tension on an impressive 7,600 vehicles.

Unfortunately for Arikawa-san, his stress busting technique may cost him dearly, as prosecutors are proposing a 12-month sentence. One lawyer said that Arikawa, “gleefully and brazenly committed these crimes. If the damage he caused to each vehicle targeted is calculated at 10,000 yen (51 pound), the cost of his crimes comes to 76 million yen (393,800 Pound).”

Mr. Arikawa has pleaded guilty to the charges, and confessed he did it to “overcome the stress I was feeling because my family were pressuring me for being unemployed.” Yet it would seem that he couldn’t have done otherwise, as a raid on his home unearthed a set of notes so detailed that it gave the dates, times, number of cars attacked, and even the weather conditions.

It was this attention to detail that eventually led to Arikawa’s downfall. A supermarket shopper who found the tires on his car punctured, spotted a suspicious looking man taking notes in the car park. This description eventually leading to the stressed yet diligent Arikawa’s arrest.

Better than a room full of bubble wrap?

Minimizing molestation

Groping on trains isn’t exactly a rare occurrence in Japan, and especially not on Tokyo’s busy commuter trains. Even the introduction of women-only carriages by some train operators hasn’t reduced the problem enough. As a recent survey has shown that a third of women in their 20s and 30s want more similarly limited train cars. Plus the introduction of them by train companies who have yet to offer the service.

The statistics clearly spell out their concerns, as 66% of 632 women interviewed said they had been groped on trains or at the station. That’s a hefty number it has to be said, and as well as adding women-only carriages, perhaps operators also need to try and fathom out what it is about trains and stations that causes so many men to behave this way.

Surely it can’t be the rank smelling toilets and vomit splattered platforms that cause such out of control behaviour can it?