Tragedies Onboard Tokyo Trains

Typically, my blog posts are uplifting and entertaining. But as for most things in life, it is not all rainbows and Pikachus. As a warning to my readers, this will discuss my witnessing accounts of suicide and accidents involving trains here in Japan. There are NO graphic photos, but what I describe may disturb some. If you do not want to read any further, I totally understand. You can read some of my other posts instead.

Trains are part of everyday life here in Japan. Morning commutes usually result in being pushed onto the train, just so you can fit. Express trains whip past stations at high speeds.

But with all that convenience also comes a dark side – accidents and suicide.

This will not turn into a discussion on how suicide is a problem here in Japan. It has been written about many times over. I will however share my unfortunate experiences witnessing suicide and accidents.

Again as a warning, the next sections will discuss death and going into graphic detail as to what happened. If you wish to not read, please watch an army of Pikachu take over Yokohama.

Narita Express

JR East Narita Express
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E259_series

One of the easiest and fastest ways to get into Tokyo from Narita Airport is the Narita Express. Express trains do not stop at every stop, and they typically don’t slow down as they pass stations they are not stopping at. Sadly, because of this it is rather easy method of suicide.

Many stations do not have guard rails to protect you from falling on the rails. There are yellow lines to stand behind and announcements to tell you when a train is coming. If someone were to fall by accident there are red emergency buttons that will alert staff and the train will hopefully stop in time.

My mom recently visited Japan. Since it was her first time, I went to meet her at Narita Airport and take the Express back to Shinjuku. About 30 mins after being on the train, the emergency brakes came on as we passed a local station and came to a complete stop.

At first, I thought they said that there was an earthquake. So, I pulled out my phone to look up on the Yurekuru App to see if there was indeed an earthquake. Nothing was showing up, so I did not make a big deal out of it. My mom and I continued to visit and talking about all the fun things we will be doing in Japan while she’s be visiting.

About 10 minutes passed and we still had not moved. But we noticed train employees running around on the platform, putting tape across the doors of another train on the oppositie platform to us, as to not allow them to get off the train. We both thought that was rather odd. Again, we thought nothing of it and continued visiting.

A few minutes later police, paramedics, and train staff come running toward our train car and stood outside our window. At that point, we figured something must have happened.

We heard someone let out a loud scream from the car in front of us. My heart sank. I told mom to stay in her seat and I would go see what is happening.

The area of the train where the washrooms and luggage is located was full of people looking out of the window. People were gasping and taking photos. One woman was in complete tears and went back to her seat.

Now, I know I should not have looked, but curiousity got the best of me. I eventually got to look out the window and what I saw, was something I wish no one would ever see.

WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT

It was the dismembered body of a man wearing white clothing. All I could see was what was left of his torso and leg. The rest was under the train, out of view. There were paramedics already out there beginning to clean up. Small white tarps were laid in seemingly random spots. I quickly realized that these were body parts. Whatever the person was carrying at the time was also scattered about.

Other people were taking photos with their smartphones. An event like this, I do not want to remember, nor have on my phone. So, I did not take any photos of this person who decided to take their life.

Chuo Line Accidents

Kichijoji Station
Source: http://news.retty.me/sweets/kirarina/

The Chuo Line in Tokyo is one of many commuter train lines within Tokyo. On weekdays you are stuffed into the trains like sardines.

I was unfortunate to witness an accident involving a 20-something woman. I was arriving at my station for work and making my way off the platform. As I was walking, I could hear another train lay on the horn. Trains will usually blow the horn as they approach the platform just to warm people, but this horn was drawn out and incredibly loud.

I look over and see this woman fall onto the tracks just as the train was pulling into the platform. My heart completely sank and my first instinct was to hit the emergency stop button that are placed everywhere on the platform. As I was about to hit the emergency button, someone already had pushed it.

The train came to a screeching hault. The sound of metal on metal made my skin crawl. A woman who was standing beside the woman who fell was completely hysterical and who can blame her.

My first instinct, after attempting to hit the emergency button, was to see if she was alright. I ran up to the spot where she fell and looked down onto the tracks. Not knowing what I was going to see.

WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT

The poor woman was laying face down beside the tracks and only with her arm laying on the tracks. There is an opening under most train platforms, so it looked like she attempted to get out fo the way. Her arm was clearly ran over, as it was broken from what I can tell. The rest of her looked fine, but she was not moving so I was not sure if she was alive. I can still see her laying there, as clear as day. With her lunch and high heel shoes scattered about the tracks.

Paramedics, police, and train staff were running around the platform. Eventually a large tarp was used to block the view of the people who got the woman off the tracks. They had to pull her out from the other side.

When they took her out of the station, they had an oxygen mask on her, so she was thankfully alive. Police were questioning eyewitnesses around the platform, so I stuck around to answer questions if I was asked. They never did approach me.

Closing

While these experiences were not positive ones, they are still experiences. You always hear about suicide and accidents with the trains in Japan. Seeing them first hand is something that I wish not to repeat.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, please reach out. There are hotlines available in Canada and Japan.

One thought on “Tragedies Onboard Tokyo Trains”

  1. Well written post Chris. It’s sad to hear that people choose to commit suicide like this, but you are right; the world is not always roses and sunshine.

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