Today’s 日本語

チカン:- Chikan or train pervert (The term chikan really refers to any type of public molester)
By now I’m sure you all know about the trains in Tokyo (crowded, sweating metal tubes of grumpy commuters) Well this has provided the perfect habitat for the chikan.

A slight touch, a graze of the arm, a spreading palm; all warning signs of the groping in store. The problem got so bad that most rail lines offer ladies only carriages. The worst line has cameras installed in the carriages.
I’ve personally had 2 encounters. Once in a public bathroom I was at a urinal just minding my own, when a man wearing a surgical mask double hand grabbed my ass and disappeared, this was in broad daylight and the toilet was full of people! Not a word was said. My second was more innocent and slightly more creepy. On a busy train going to work I felt a hand against mine. (I hate hand to hand contact even with people I know so…..) I moved, it followed, move, follow, move, follow until I gave up and just let whoever it was hold my hand.
It’s never anyone attractive, it’s always some greasy, dandruffy, musty salaryman.
Figures for the period 1998 and 2000 show that most chikans were unmarried males in their 30s. The problem is they are all undersexed, Japan is the least sexually active nation with the average boning being 37 times a year (work/life balance, time for some research). Also people stay quiet, trains in Japan are super quiet and the concept of tatemae (outside face) mean that most victims just accept it and never get to express what happened. I have heard interesting stories of girls defending themselves; from using safety pins to prick the person to grabbing on and not letting go until the police get there.
The penalty if you are caught can be very severe. As it is such a famous problem the police make a big deal of making sure people get properly punished.


Human accidents

When this,

is a daily part of your life, its easy to see how it can lead to this,

Last week I rode the Chuo line, (for those of you not familiar with that fucking line, it is one of the busiest/suicidalist lines in Tokyo). BOTH directions were stopped because of two SEPERATE suicides at different stations at roughly the same time and yesterday my train line home was delayed to the point of having to get a bus!

Suicide by train (Jishinjiko 自身事故, literally human accident) is a huge problem in the capital. With long hours, isolated city lives and the romanticism of suicide, many train lines have installed defense barriers, calming blue lights and one station (after a particulary depressing few months) piped in classical music. A survey conducted by the Ministry of Health concluded that one in four people under the age of 35 had contemplated suicide. In 2009, suicide was the leading cause of death among men age 20–44 and is still the leading cause of death for women age 15–34 in Japan.

Suicide has a long history in Japan. A samurai would be expected to commit seppuku instead of being captured or disgraced. The act has never been made illegal and is more often than not seen as the morally responsible action. In 2007 after Cabinet minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka took his life after being exposed for defrauding his expense account
called him “a true samurai”.

Suicide clean-up squads are paid hundreds of dollars an hour to *shower* down trains, their first day quitting rate is somewhere around 70%.

Many people choose trains as they do not wish to burden their family with the mess, the ironic fact is that families are charged by the minute for train delays, the circle style Yamanote Line reportedly charges upwards of a million yen a minute, but rail companies refuse to officially release their suicide price list.

The worst part, is that it causes the most MIND NUMBING delays. On a Tuesday evening when all you want to do is get home and relax, the last thing you need is a wait in a crowded sweaty train.

If you hang around Tokyo long enough you are more than likely to see or be inconvenienced by someone just not being able to take it anymore. And I’ve heard that if you are in the first carriage……… feel it.

The Tokyo sarin gas attacks


Yesterday evening, as Japan trounced Oman in the 2014 qualifiers, Naoko Kikuchi was apprehended in Kanagawa-Ken.

Naoko was one of the last missing people connected to the 1995 sarin gas attacks carried out by the yoga based cult Aum Shinrikyo. She had been on the lamb for 17 years, the only person left unaccounted for is the get away driver Katsuya Takahashi. Naoko (although not there for the attacks) was wanted in connection with manufacturing the deadly gas and other crimes committed within the cult. When approached by the police she was asked if she was Naoko Kikuchi, to which she supposedly calmly replied “yes”.

Aum Shinrikyo was (is) a controversial cult. They believe in the healing powers of aesthetic yoga and were controlled by their egomaniacal leader Shoko Asahara. The cult was founded in a one room apartment in Shibuya in the mid 1980s and had became an official religious organization by 1989.

The group was accused of the usual cult things, holding disciples against their will, using LSD and other hallucinogenics during rituals and extorting money from their followers. The darker side included murder (a prominent anti-cult lawyer and his family were murdered in 1989), declaring war on the Japanese constitution and manufacturing nerve and sarin gas. In 1993 there was bizarre seismic activity around a huge farm they had purchased in rural Australia (the rumour is the group had tested nuclear weapons).

The 1995 attacks was not the first to come from the group. In 1994 eight people were killed and two hundred injured when sarin was released in Matsumoto city, Nagano-Ken. This attack was only linked to the group after the subway events.

On the morning of March 20th 1995 five high levels members boarded three different train lines heading to the area containing the Japanese government buildings. Each carried around 900ml of sarin liquid (a pinhead amount can kill an adult).

13 people were killed and thousands were injured in that was the worst attack on Tokyo since the second world war. The court cases that followed saw a total of 189 members indicted, thirteen were sentenced to death, five were sentenced to life in prison, eighty were given prison sentences of various lengths, eighty-seven received suspended sentences, two were fined, and one was found not guilty.

The sarin gas attacks were a huge blow to the Japanese which viewed their society as virtually crime free. It questioned the safety of their society. The backlash was explored in Murakami’s book Underground in which he interviewed survivors and members of the cult. Aum has since denounced their leader and changed its name to Aleph. Their image is still terrible in Japan and its followers find it very hard to find employment and housing.

The picture below is taken from this site, the commentary is in Japanese but the pictures speak for themselves.