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With regard to Grant Piper’s Sept. 27 letter, “Indulgence that appears to work“: Piper’s description of pedestrian traffic in Japan as a “treacherous and hair-raising obstacle course” brought many old memories rushing back. In the 1980s, I was living in Nerima Ward (Tokyo) and using public transportation. I also spent up to a month or two abroad before returning to Japan.

I carried my own luggage in those days, usually two large bags. I clearly remember, after all these years, the shock when I had to change trains at Seibu Ikebukuro Station. I’d be swept along in the crowd with people bumping into me, stumbling over the luggage I was carrying. Not one person ever said “excuse me” or even changed their path to avoid me. It was the same after every trip.

Today, of course, I ship my luggage and avoid walking too much in large stations. After all these years, I find it normal to never hear a “sumimasen” and to be surrounded by sleepwalkers whenever I’m in a large station.

I’ve come to believe that, for the average Japanese, not noticing what’s going on around him or her is a kind of survival mechanism: Better not to see the reality around you.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

ken yamada

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