February 19, 2013

Taking the Metro

When I went on my trip to New York City, I figured I would be taking taxis everywhere. I'd heard horror stories of New York Metro system, particularly from Japanese people who had visited New York before. All cited the potential dangerousness and the griminess of the trains, but the general consensus was, "Giuliani made it safe for everyone to take the metro."

I ended up taking the metro every day during my stay. Combined with the cramped spaces and the plastic seats, whose color scheme made it look like they had remained unchanged since the 1970s, it did make for a rather dreary experience. Because New York City is so spacious, with its looming buildings and vast streets, it seemed odd to be suddenly crammed into such a small space with dozens of other people.

Being in the train made me realize just how bright Tokyo subways are, even though we've reduced the fluorescent lights by around half since the 2011 earthquake. Perhaps people would feel safer on the metro if it were brighter? It certainly is not encouraging when the automated recording of the train conductor warns you, "Please make sure all mobile phones and electronic devices are not visible."

There were some perks, however. Although I don't think I will ever shell out for them, I enjoyed the gospel singers that would walk through the train cars. It added a bit of pep to my day.

Though the station walls needed a good scrubbing, I loved the shared tile motifs, and how each station had a different style and design. It had none of the tackiness that Tokyo stations often fall victim to.

Snow on the tracks, the morning after Hurricane Nemo.

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