Once known as Edo and renamed in the late 1860s, Tokyo - the capital of Japan - is a densely populated metropolis that has over 12 million inhabitants in the city proper and approximately 36 million people in the larger metropolitan prefecture. Located in the Kant? region, it is comprised of 23 wards, as well as 62 municipalities, which are served by over 500 train stations. Tokyo's electric trains, employed by locals and commuters alike, are known for their efficiency as well as their aesthetics.
Mentioned in The Thief are the Marunouchi line, which travels to the heart of Tokyo, a commercial and tourist center and also home of the Imperial Palace; Shinjuku Station (pictured), a major hub and, according to Guinness World Records, the world's busiest, boasting over 3.6 million visitors per day; Shinjuku, often portrayed in neon-lit, Hollywood scenes of Japan such as those in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation; Shibuya, known for its fashionable teen culture; Gotanda and Ebisu, both of which are stops along the Yamanote line that loops through Tokyo's city centers.
As a part of the Tokyo Bureau of Transportation's campaign to end rudeness on subway cars, the Tokyo Metro requests that riders silence their cell phones while on the trains. Promotional posters also remind passengers of proper train-riding etiquette: no drunken behavior, no loud music, and no littering, among other courtesies. They ask you to "please, do it at home."
Interestingly, Tokyo Metro has also introduced "women-only" cars during the morning rush hour "so that women, elementary school students and younger children can ride with a sense of security." Boarding platforms have pink "Women Only" signs posted indicating the designated trains.
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This article was originally published in April 2012, and has been updated for the
January 2013 paperback release.
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