A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

Are there really "pushers" on Tokyo subways?

December 23, 1977

Dear Cecil:

While maintaining a tenuous foothold on a space in the vestibule of a commuter train during yesterday's afternoon rush hour stampede, I struggled to recollect what I had once read or heard about the Japanese solution to commuter congestion. Cecil, can you give me the straight dope on (forgive me) "pushers" on the Tokyo subway platforms? Also, what is the meaning of life.?

Dear Les:

No need to apologize for "pushers"--that's the literal translation of "oshiya," the Japanese term for the guys who make their living cramming commuters into Tokyo's overcrowded subways and trains. As a rule, two oshiya are assigned to every downtown station, each man covering half of each two-car subway train. Since there are two doors per car, the oshiya have to be fast on their feet to stuff as many bodies as possible. They also have to be, shall we say, fairly intimidating fellows: it's said that many oshiya are recruited from the ranks of unemployed sumo wrestlers.

But they're nice guys, too--during slack hours, they remain on duty to help little old ladies and other frail types on and off the trains. The Japanese have been putting up with pushers since the early 30s and seem perfectly content to go on doing so.

As for the meaning of life, Luigi Pirandello once wrote: "Life is little more than a loan shark: it exacts a very high rate of interest for the few pleasures it concedes." But he was probably drunk at the time.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Additions:

A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
By Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope! Your direct line to thou- sands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope? Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC.