投稿者 HakuAi | 10月 15, 2009

No music, no Tokyo life.

Okay, this isn’t about Okinawa but mainland Japan…my former hometown of Tokyo, to be exact.

I was unaware before I saw it on TV this morning, but apparently Kansai train stations got rid of their 発車メロ (that genki little melody that plays to let you know the train is leaving) back in 1999.  And now they’re talking about doing away with them in Kanto as well.  The reason?  To avoid 駆け込み乗車 (people running to catch the train before it leaves).

Honestly, I never saw what was so wrong with 駆け込み乗車 in the first place.  I can understand parents not wanting their kids to do it, but for the rest of us adults, whether or not to dash into a train about to leave should be left up to our good judgment.  I say this as someone who has taken a bad fall in a station trying to jump the last few steps into an open train door during the last few notes of a song.  The bleeding hand I got was MY fault – not the melody’s.

Besides, people are still going to run onto trains when they’re in a hurry.  Are they going to get rid of the station clocks or timetables?  I know on more than one occasion I’ve glanced at my watch, then up at the next scheduled departure, and refused to resist the urge to make a run for it – before the melody even started playing.  The melody only heightened the excitement, and then the satisfied feeling you got when you sat down safely inside the train before the song was over was priceless.

Who wouldn’t miss those bouncy little tunes?  They’re part of what makes riding trains so much more appealing than driving.  I always looked forward to hearing the different songs playing at every station.  I remember how the key got lower as you got closer to Tokyo on the Chuo-sen, and how Shinagawa had a couple of different melodies available depending on what line you were taking (the Tokaido/Keihin-Tohoku lines were a friendly sing-along sort of tune, while the Yamanote played more of a space-age, almost spooky refrain).

One of my favorite things about Japan is the theme songs that so many stations and stores seem to have.  They’re comforting, and I find myself humming them when I’m bored sitting at home or cooking.  I know others feel the same way – why else would there be a Yamanote-sen themed clock that plays the melody of the featured station every hour on the hour?  (To anyone thinking of buying me a Christmas present valued at around 80 bucks: I really, really want that.  Or the orange Chuo version.)  I thought it was ridiculous and impossible when I heard them talk about taking them away…until I heard that Kansai stations are already boring and music-less.

But there’s a ray of hope: they have not yet defined an 因果関係 (cause-effect relationship) between the melodies and people running onto trains, and until they decide for certain that the music is to blame, they aren’t going to take action.  So people, if you feel the way I feel about the music, if you know it’s an important part of Tokyo life that can’t be taken away, then do the only thing you can do: tell any JR officials who might ask that you will run like the devil up those stairs and onto that train regardless of whether a song, a droning announcement, or the screech of a banshee is playing over the loudspeaker.  But say you might think about walking in an orderly fashion if they agreed to give Aiko Miyagi some money for airfare.  Hey, I gotta go to the mainland and hear those melodies before it’s too late!

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