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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New ticket wickets at Yotsuya Station

四ツ谷駅 改札口 更新

Looking at this morning's weather forecast (rain - all the way through to the weekend) I left off cycling and took the train to the office for the first time in about three weeks.

In this morning's rush, I didn't even notice, but on the more leisurely return home I saw that the ticket wickets in Yotsuya Station had been upgraded.

New ticket wickets at Yotsuya Station, Tokyo, Japan.
New ticket wickets at Yotsuya Station

The previous ticket gates were by no means old or out-of-date looking, but the green space-age gleam and heightened ergonomics of the new turnstiles caught my eye. While I can't put my finger on what exactly has changed in terms of horizontal profile, something certainly has.

Japanese train station ticket gates are, in my experience, the world's friendliest. The turnstiles of stations in all the other cities with them I've visited in the world are more or less clunky - if not positively aggressive - in comparison. The worst example was at Singapore airport where I sailed through at the same speed I do through a Japanese ticket wicket only to painfully bash a very tender spot on my thigh (no, not that high up, thankfully!) on the very tardily retracting barrier.

We entertained a visitor from overseas last week who we took around Tokyo for a few days. It took him at least a day to get used to the speed you should walk through a Tokyo train station ticket gate, i.e. at normal walking speed, sailing on through and very briefly touching your IC card on the pad without slowing down or stopping.

On the flip side, it may well be that this convenience has a price in the way of more upkeep. Every month or so you'll see a technician or two working on the incredibly complicated looking innards of a temporarily disabled ticket wicket. But keeping things running - and, in this case, people swiftly flowing through them - at all costs is one of the things Japan is about.

PS And it so happened the weather forecast was wrong - it hardly rained at all!

Read more about using trains in Tokyo.

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