Friday, January 26, 2007

Train People

Japanese mobile phones or "keitai" as we call them, are said to be one of the most high-tech and highly designed phones in the world carrying an unbelievable number of functions from calling ('course, it's a phone), SMS, chat, text-mailing (e-mails with colored and moving icons we call emoji: most common next to calling), surfing the internet (mobile sites and PC sites), downloading all kinds of things like music and games, music player, infrared communication, e-money, etc. etc. and the Japanese population's owning/usage rate of mobile phones is pretty high.

Despite the high rate and the convenience of the device being "mobile" and carriable, however, the rate of mobile game users reach the highest during the hours from after dinner to bedtime. From this mildly surprising report, some groups decided to conduct a survey on what people do on the train/subway while they commute every morning and evening.

The gender ratio of the survey subject of 300 individuals is 50%-50%, and the age bracket ratio is 20% for each of the generations: A-teens (age 18-19), B-20s, C-30s, D-40s, E-50s.

The report told that to the question, "What do you do on the train?" 67% (201people) out of the whole regardless the gender and generation answered "sleep". Considering not all people can get the seats on a full rush-hour train, I guess this means that most of those who win the seats sleep. I thought that the answer resulting in a high percentage proves how tired and pressed by time and work these people (who probably represent the most typical kind of people in Japanese cities) are, at the same time as how safe and vulnerable this country is. It's not that there are no pick-pockets nor groping (actually groping is pretty bad), but I've heard from people who come from outside of Japan that sleeping on the trains is basically unthinkable if you don't want to lose your belongings.

Following the answer "sleep" was "read", which covers books, newspapers, comics, magazines, novels and that sort of hard copy reading materials. Majority of the people responded that they read paperback books followed by novels, telling that compact and carriable materials are most popular means to kill time on the train. Moreover, hard copy materials prove to gain more support than things on the internet, probably because for reason one) people just aren't too familiar with using the mobile internet, two) reception isn't always smooth especially on the subway, three) the text is too small (that's only what my parents complain).

One of the honest but funny replies that were collected in this survey was how so many people peek into other people's stuff. According to the same survey, nearly 80% of the people whether they carry a piece of reading or not, peek into their neighbors papers, books or magazines. By the way I'm pretty sure that the temptation grows stronger if the material is some kind of gossip or paparazzi.

Exactly 50% of the subject answered that they use the mobile on the train, which I consider a pretty low. In any case, 90% of them answered that they read e-mails, 83% send e-mails, and when it comes to viewing mobile sites the rate dropped down to 38%.

Overall, I suppose I can conclude that mobile phones have spread so widely and have rooted in our daily lives so much in just less than a decade, that it is impossible for us to maintain an un-chaotic life if we lose them right this instant. It's quite interesting though that non electric stuff still occupy a good portion of our busy lives. Like this refrence article rounded up, what would grasp the attentions of these commuters if there weren't mobile phones?

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