Posted by: patriciamar | October 14, 2018

Shinagawa Station

Finally I have found the time to write a little bit about my favorite station in Tokyo.

Shinagawa station

love this train station.  It’s a microcosm of a world that I never thought I would enjoying living in, but I actually do.

This was the first station that I experienced in Tokyo back in April, and it is now my hub, the station that I frequent more than any other, the station I arrive at on the way to work, and the station where I can take the Shinkansen, the Keikyu, and the JR (all important public transportation options when navigating the Tokyo area).  It is where I can get Blue Bottle coffee and where I can drink Firestone Walker or Sierra Nevada if the Asahi starts tasting too much like water.  You can get to so many places in Tokyo and in Japan from this station, mostly limited stop or express, including both major Tokyo airports, Haneda and Narita.
This station is a miracle.
At least from an American perspective.
I wonder how many people move in and out of it each day.  Or each hour?
Shinagawa lines
The Minato/Shinagawa area of Tokyo is heavy on business.  The Shinagawa towers house companies like Canon, NTT and Nikon, and during my coffee breaks or at lunch, I often find myself inside the Sony building, right next door to Crystal Square (my building).
There are so many business people flooding through Shinagawa Station each day.  Suits, suits, suits and the beautiful clack of hard-soled shoes running steady.
You can take off your jacket if you like.
If you don’t already know, in Japan, they move about in a direction opposite the U.S.  Like in Britain, they drive on the left side of the street and the right side of the car.  They walk in the same fashion (except for a few specific areas, but that explanation is for another time).  So in most stations, you walk on the left and they’re coming towards you on the right.  However, in Shinagawa Station, there are so many people heading toward the office buildings on the east side of the station, that the flow of the workers takes over.  In the morning, the flood heads east and in the evening, the flood heads back west. It’s kind of unbelievable.  You have to go with the flow, and if you don’t want to go in that direction–if for some reason you are not headed to an office building to work– then for heaven’s sake move out of the way and get to the edges, outside of the pillars, slipping along with the other few that are making their way to a store or to another train line, and not to an office.
There’s a 7-11 halfway down the hall, where people run in and out for water or cold brew or tea, or maybe a rice ball for snack, as is typical for business people just before getting on the train for the often hour-long train ride home.
There’s a Starbucks on the second floor if you like that sort of thing in foreign countries, and there is a Dean & Deluca as well, a new love of mine.   There’s an international atm, too (most helpful those first few weeks).  The station is above ground, which also adds to its appeal.  On almost every occasion, I get off a train, look around and immediately know which direction I’m facing.  As a human pinpoint in a massive transportation system, this is not the norm.
The wifi situation is excellent.  The Keikyu has wifi, as does the Atre (the mall around the station) and the station itself.  This was very helpful at the start when I had no idea where I was coming from, where I was going, or what I was going to eat in between.
I became accustomed to Tokyo office life slowly.  The first week I stopped in Shinagawa Station on the way home every day, for an espresso and a sit and stare.
It takes time for your brain to process that many people working and working and working.  Will you become one of them?
I hear that the office environment and work life has gotten better.  The government has cracked down on the “black companies” that require WAY too many hours each week (working until 10 p.m. or midnight daily).  Unfortunately, I hear from a colleague that her son, who happens to work for a government office, deals with the same pressure.
When you leave the office, it is customary to say osaki ni shitsurei shimasu (お先に失礼します).  This is basically an apology for leaving first.  From my experience and from what I’ve read, this is very widely used–by everyone– every day.
In my office, I’ve heard from my colleagues that the boss says you should leave by 8.  This is nice.  It made me happy to hear, though I admit that my classes end at either 8:30 or 8:45 (not complaining about that, it is the time that the students are available), and only once have I been the one to lock the doors.  A couple of people are always still there working.  There is always an exception.  There is always a reason to work a little more.  I believe that many Americans know this situation as well.
And then you all walk to Shinagawa Station after work.
As far as I knew, with the pedestrian traffic flowing as it does, the land of Shinagawa Station does not sleep.
Then one night I came back from inner Tokyo a little late.  It was 11 p.m., and to my absolute amazement, Shinagawa station was asleep.  The lights in the main corridor were off and the last of the night’s trains were passing through.  The organized chaos is not actually 24-hours.  This is helpful to note if you have a late flight, by the way.
On a typical day, from Blue Bottle, up above on the second floor, you can look down on the main corridor of the station and watch the people stream by.  If you are watching at the right moment, you’ll see the bright purple or red of my shoes or scarf.  I do stand out a little bit in this magical hub.
I’m not sure if I’ll get sick of it, or maybe how soon I will get sick of it.  By giving myself plenty of time to get to work each day, I can ensure that the crowded path doesn’t stress me out as I’m making my way through (I would guess that rushing through this station would cause you a bit of stress).
You could also leave work early to beat the rush on the way home.
It’s not that bad at 4 o’clock.
There aren’t that many people.

And then as you are walking amongst the suits and heels, there are then more people, and more people, and more people…

 

You think that you might want to stop, because there are just so many people!  It’s hard to comprehend.  But you cannot.  Because once you are in the throngs, you have to keep walking.  It takes an incredible ability to weave smoothly to the side of the path.  And you’re not that experienced, so you should probably just keep walking.

 


Shinagawa station

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Responses

  1. Japanese stations are really places where you want to go even if you don’t take the train! Kawasaki is my favourite my friend used to leave there, there is a huge Daiso and lots of great shops!

    Like

    • I have been through Kawasaki, but haven’t stopped there. I’ll check it out! Thanks!

      Like

      • Kawasaki also had a barbapapa café last summer 😍

        Like


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