Living in a small island nation 80% covered in forests and mountains isn't easy, especially when there are 127 million of you. Japan: Overcrowded from Cradle to Grave graphically illustrates how Japan's citizens cope with overcrowding everywhere; all the time.
1) Tokyo Megalopolis
Tokyo reigns as the world's largest city. The estimated population of 35 million in the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area gives new meaning to the word "overcrowded". With so many people crammed cheek by jowl, one might expect chaos and crime on a Lagos-ian scale, but no. Amazingly, and without the need for martial law, Tokyo works very well indeed. Crime is low by western standards, services are reliable and the infrastructure is the envy of most other cities. You won't find much peace & quiet in Tokyo; what you WILL find is a city that ticks like clockwork through the combined efforts of its people. Speaking of clockwork, the above video compresses 35 years of skyscraper construction in Shinjuku, downtown Tokyo, into just 10 seconds! (overcrowded city video via Japundit)
2) Tokyo Streets were Made for Walkin'
Sea of umbrellas
Tokyo was founded over 400 years ago but very little of the old town remains. A catastrophic earthquake in 1923 and the devastation wrought by World War II resulted in the city being rebuilt to modern standards. Wide streets that work WITH the city's infrastructure, not against it, funnel hundreds of thousands of people to and from major train stations. Overcrowded, yes, but the streets of Tokyo, Osaka and other Japanese cities are rarely prey to pedestrian gridlock. (overcrowded streets via Cambridge2000)
3) Subways like Rolling Sardine Cans
"EEK!"... Sorry lady, just doing my job!
Like most metropolitan centers, Tokyo is a working city and the workers have to come from somewhere - and go home again at the end of each working day. They do this, for the most part, using the renowned Tokyo subway system. Multiple lines, color-coded for ease of use even by foreigners, crisscross the city from beneath like some bizarre subterranean spider web. Morning and evening rush hours are busiest, to the point where gloved and uniformed "people pushers" ensure that the doors of the overcrowded cars close smoothly. (overcrowded subway via MSN)
4) Packed Parks
Cheery cherry blossoms
Most large Japanese cities boast large, beautiful, well-maintained city parks. Naturally, these refreshing green spaces can get very overcrowded - especially at Cherry Blossom Viewing time ("Hanabi") when green gives way to soft pink and the gentle snow of flower petals. Groups of friends and entire families camp out in the parks, enjoying picnic lunches and pouring drinks for one another. Competition for choice viewing spots is, needless to say, intense. (overcrowded park via P.Jacobs)
5) The Ultimate Overcrowded Swimming Pool
This incredible video has to be seen to be believed! Only people completely acclimated to overcrowded city streets, subways, parks and more would squeeze into this "human soup". The water is totally obscured by skin, swimsuits and pool toys! True, Japan suffered through a sweltering heat wave this past summer but how cool do you think the vastly overcrowded Summerland Wave Pool is, filled with hundreds of 98.6 degree people?? One positive note - swimmers at Japanese public pools are required to go through a "chemical bath" (my Japanese wife's words) before proceeding to the main pool. Thank goodness for small blessings! (overcrowded pool via Killian-Nakamura c/o Blogs On Japan)
6) Overcrowded Graveyards Provide no Final Escape
At least it's quiet...
Alas, Japan's long-suffering citizens gain no respite from overcrowded conditions, even in death. This view of a cemetery outside Japan's ancient former capitol, Kyoto, illustrates plainly that though life may end, overcrowding goes on... and on... (overcrowded cemetery via Plastic Bamboo)
These images and descriptions only begin to touch on what overcrowding in Japan is like - live with it on a daily basis and slowly, inexorably, you'll begin to become part of The Crowd. You just might find warm, secure comfort being one of many millions... embracing the primeval Herd Instinct and deriving comfort from safety in eight-digit numbers!
Japanese Innovations Writer
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