Monday, November 6, 2017

48 Positions of Japanese trains


Japanese Train Riding Positions

電車四十八手

The Edo period had a series of woodblock prints which illustrated various positions for sumo wrestling. The print showed 48 positions. At the time the number 48 was used as an expression for a large and varied number of things (the way we talk about "a ton of" things in modern English). A modern version of the sumo positions is a popular subject for clothe prints in Japan.
Subsequently there was a print that parodied the sumo print with a guide of 48 sexual positions, thay "shijuhatte" was the Japanese version of the Kama Sutra.
This shijuhatte is meant to be used as a guide for referring to the various ways in which people ride trains in Japan.



#1 “The gymnast”
Holding two hand rings at once.
The Gymnast
#2“The doorman”
Standing by the door on a crowded train so that they must get off the train at every stop then back on again.

The Doorman
#3 “The stargazer”
Person who sleeps with their head tilted back so they are facing the ceiling/sky.

The Stargazer


#4 “The shoulder borrower”
Someone sleeping with their head leaning on the next passenger.

#4 The Shoulder Borrower.
#5 The Shoulder Lender.


#5 “The shoulder lender”
Person who #4 is sleeping on. Their reaction varies from amused to irritated. It is interesting when this is a stranger.


#6 “The pilllow”
Tolerates another person sleeping on their shoulder because they are asleep themselves.

The Pillow


#7 “The dancer”
Standing on the train but not holding the rings so they stamp and stumble around to keep their balance.

The Dancer


#8 “The guilt tripper”
Old person who wants to sit down so they find a young person who is sitting down then stare and clear their throat to shame the target into moving.
The Guilt Tripper

# 9 “The cyber-warrior”
This person can be seen juggling multiple devices: phones, tablet, music player, laptop…
The Cyber Warrior

# 10 “The picture hanger”
Person annoyed by “The shoulder borrower” so they push and tilt them back into position.
The Picture Hanger

# 11 “The thinker”
Sits on the end seat with their arm propping them up so they can sleep.
The Thinker

# 12 “The last stop evictee”
Sleeps so deeply that they have to be awoken and assisted off the train by station staff.
The Last Stop Evictee

# 13 “The full sleeping beauty”
Someone who has laid down flat across multiple seats. Sometimes you see that they have taken off their shoes to get comfortable.
The Full Sleeping Beauty

# 14 “The half sleeping beauty”
They are taking up multiple seats but their feet are still on the floor so it is not as bad as “the full sleeping beauty” but they look less comfortable.

# 15 “The squatter”/“sas-squats”
This person just can’t right now. They could not find a seat so they just squat down and try to lean against something.


# 16 “The fan club”
You usually see these people after sporting events and concerts. They wear matching franchise merchandise. They tend to exit events simultaneously in numbers that can instantly overcrowd any train.
The Fan Club

# 17 “The field trippers”
Large groups of kids that you can see on platforms squatting in formation while waiting for their train. Usually these groups appear outside of rush hours but sometimes they get an early start to historic landmarks by crowding in with commuters.
The Field Trippers

# 18 “The retirement rangers”
Usually seen in groups during the autumn with hiking poles, floppy hats and cameras while on their way to mountain temples.

# 19 “The shameless”
This is a person who says “I am just going to read this erotic comic on my phone. Feel free to look over my shoulder as I am too engrossed to notice.” The print edition version of “the shameless” has become rarer.
The Shameless
# 20 “The shopper”
This person spotted a deal in a large flat panel TV and is struggling to get it home on public transit.
The Shopper

# 21 “The Olympic platform dismount”
As the train doors are about to close, this person athletically bounds into the train and sticks the landing just inside the doors blocking the people who are just behind them.

#22 “The prayer”
Sleeps while kneeling on the floor with their head in the seat.

# 23 “The huddle”
Usually performed by school kids. Everyone stands in a circle, often with their bags at their feet. “The huddle” can be a difficult obstacle as they have limited awareness of their surroundings.

# 24 “The ‘We’re not together’”

Two expats coincidentally get on the same train but move apart so Japanese people won’t think that they are tourist traveling together. Or perhaps they are avoiding the awkwardness of a possible interaction.

# 25 “The USJ PASSengers”
Usually travel in pairs and dress in theme costumes; especially Minions or zombies. The Osaka Loop Line is their natural habitat.

# 26 “The socially awkward force field”
If there are 4 seats facing each other the other passengers will avoid sitting in that area once there is even a single person.

# 27 “The Halloween Train (pre-2012)"
A train car is hijacked by drunken, rowdy foreigners. Sexual harassment awaits Japanese girls who stumble upon the debauchery.
The Halloween Train (pre-2012)

# 28 “The Halloween Train (post-2012)”
Hundreds of families with small kids wait to board a single train with a handful of costumes staff which takes passengers to a specially decorated train depot in the outskirts of town.
The Halloween Train (Post-2012)

# 29 “The starting line”
Positioning oneself as close to the door gap as possible to escape as the doors start to open and get ahead of crowds at the exit gate. Advanced versions of “the starting line” have memorized which door will be closest to the exit at the destination station.
The Starting Line

# 30 “The front-packer” / “the kangaroo”

This considerate person wears their backpack on the front of their body so they don’t bump against other people are get pushed around.
The Front-packer / The Kangaroo

# 31 “The turnstile”
This person wears a backpack that creates an obstacle on the train. Although other passengers would not shove a person or make physical contact they view the backpack as just an obstacle to push through; too bad it is connected to a person who is spun around on their heels by the applied leverage.
The Turnstile

# 32 “The post”
This person stands straight, still and silent in the corner. Supported by (supporting?) the carriage walls or the door side handle.
The Post

# 33 “The conference”

Three or more people form a group that talks loudly across the aisle. Almost exclusively a gaijin move.
The Conference

#34 “The tunnel”

Two long lines of people form on either side of the platform.

#35 “The Moses”
A mass of people try to rush on board as soon as the doors open. “The Moses” must part the “Red Sea” of people to escape to the “promised land.”
The Moses

# 36 “Never Gonna Give You Up”
As two people part ways, the passenger and the friend on the platform keep waving at each other until the train has moved on and they are up of sight.
Never Gonna Give You Up

# 37 “The stalker”
An unrequited version of the “never gonna give you up.” One side is way more enthusiastic than the other. Sometimes it is not clear who the person is waving at which causes confusion and embarrassment.

# 38 “The wide-eyed wondered”

Knees on the seat, face pressed against the window. This is usually a small kid riding the train during the off hours across the countryside.
The Wide-Eyed Wonderer

# 39 “The trash compactor” /“The ass-compactor”

This person crowds into the train back first; pressing against The door-frame for leverage. It seems like this person can fit into any train, no matter how crowded.

# 40 “The white gloves”
Station staff who shove relentlessly and mightily to squeeze passengers onto the train so they can get the doors closed. They then tuck in the errant pieces of clothing and baggage.

# 41 “The dog ear”
Articles of clothing that get caught in the train doors. Usually “the white gloves” take care of these but that coat or skirt edge will be flapping in the wind to the next station. Usually seen in the winter.
The Dog Ear

# 42 “The precision bomber” / “The Womp Rat Bullseye”
When someone accidentally drops something and it manages to fall through the gap between the train and platform.
The Precision Bomber / The Womp-Rat Bullseye

# 43 “The pitfall”
When someone steps into the gap between the tea and the platform. This usually happens when exiting the door in the middle of a train car onto a curved platform.
The Pitfall

# 44 “The backseat driver”
That one place on the first car of the train where you can look through the engineer’s cabin and see the tracks ahead. A favorite spot for train otaku to ride.
The Backseat Driver

# 45 “The edge-lord”
Person who sits down without taking off their large backpack. Their weight is shifted over the edge so they need to use they legs to support themselves. Seen on over-encumbered travelers who can not easily get their backpacks off.

# 46 “The overturned tortoise”

Elementary school students with rigid backpacks (ランドセル). When they fall asleep on their backpacks they look similar to “the stargazer.”
The Overturned Tortoise

# 47 “The psychic servant”
“In approximately 90 seconds a person in a wheelchair will get off of a train at this exact spot. At that time I must deploy this folding ramp to facilitate their exit.”
The Psychic Servant

# 48 “The happy hour”

Although it is rare to see people with any food or drink on commuter trains, you will see this person will a beer. From about 4pm they will have an open beer, then they escalate to chuhai going into nightfall. Usually these people are foreigners but you will also see elderly Japanese with the “one cup” sake.

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