The rush is on to get on board during rush hour

Commuters preparing for an enjoyable journey on the Tozai Line

“My mother and two of my junior high school teachers used to tell me that I was clever, and that I had so many interesting ideas,” says 32 year old Tokyo resident Jasper Watson.  “I guess this tour shows that they were right.”  

Watson is referring to his enormously popular Tokyo subway tour, which began during the waning days of the Covid Scare.  While other tours focus on temples, shrines, and traditional culture, Watson’s tour plunges into the heart of rush hour, giving visitors a taste of commuter hell on the Tozai Line on weekday mornings.

An Indian would probably climb up on the roof

“It’s kind of like those restaurants in France where you dine with the expectation of being insulted.  Some people want others to cough directly into their face or have their buttocks clutched roughly.  Sure, some people get freaked out, but some sign up to do it all again the next day,” grins the cocky Canadian, who was fired from his English teaching job due to chronic tardiness three years ago.   “Some of the female commuters can’t leave my black customers alone.  They want to squeeze, rub, and even poke their backsides like one of those jelly ball stress removers.  Half of my customers get freaked out and get off at the next station, but the other half come back the next day for second helpings.”

Watson points out that, despite putting in zero capital input for his tour, there are still truckloads of day-to-day worries.  “I have to constantly tell the Scandinavian customers to ease off on the chat.  Tourists speaking English at high volume is bad enough because it brings back memories of annoying ESL teachers who thought they were cool and spent lots of time with the girls in the classroom.  I’ve found, however, that languages like Finnish or Swedish can really get up people’s noses on the train.  I don’t know why, but they set people off.

Tourists take a deep breath after they escape the subway crush.

Bureaucracy usually has a way of involving itself in any tourism related business, but so far Watson hasn’t had anybody turn up unannounced at his door. “As far as officialdom is concerned, I don’t have a license but, then again, the authorities never envisaged this kind of tour.  That’s how out-of-the-box my ideas are.  I guess that makes me the kind of person that the authorities can’t reach.  I’m comfortable with that label, by the way.  It suits me.

“Some people ask me why these foreign tourists can’t simply get on the subway themselves without paying extra for the tour. Those kind of people have no sense of economic opportunity and would never ever have a business dream.  That’s what separates us.  These tourists are prepared to pay extra to guarantee that they are guided directly into ground zero.  Some of them will never come back to Japan.  Generally, they only get one chance, so they want an expert to get them into the thick of things.

Commuters try to get as comfortable as possible during their journey.

“It’s not all bad news on the Tozai Line.  Many of my customers are pleasantly surprised to see cute students on their way to Waseda University.  These young ladies really shine like roses in a swamp, and they offer a glimmer of hope amongst the young working men that perhaps one such beautiful woman will be come to work in their department in the near future. That won’t happen though.”

The tour, says Watson, has come along in leaps and bounds since the early days.  Tour participants now receive laminated cards at the beginning of the tour to enable them to understand what is being said around them.  “My customers appreciate being able to quickly comprehend common insults and complaints.  I get some real masochists too, who delight in hearing that their level of hygiene doesn’t  meet the generally accepted Tokyo standards.”


Watson is aware of the need to conduct his a subway with minimal impact. “Right now I’m just focusing on reminding my customers to dress appropriately on the subway. They need to show consideration for others while having a cheap holiday in someone else’s misery. That’s why I tell the overweight westerners not to wear such figure-hugging clothes.  It’s demoralising for workers to start the day having to see all that flab,” he explains with a shake of the head.

“I’m conducting tours every day and the outlook is pretty good.  The platform attendants know me, and I even get a little bow from them regularly.  They know who I am, and they know that I’m a considerate, respectful, and responsible guy, and I’m sure that they remind each other of that when they chat about their favourite commuters. But, I’m not stopping with this tour. I’ve also got big plans to start manhole cover tours. The Italians, in particular, go crazy for the sewerage related infrastructure. Although, to be honest, they’re amazed whenever they see public infrastructure that thieves haven’t run off with.”

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