This summer, the hottest spots in Tokyo may be stations on the underground, speculates Weekly Playboy (July 11).
On June 15, Tokyo Metro announced that as one of its power-saving measures, on weekdays from noon to 3 p.m., air conditioning would be turned off at its stations, beginning from July 1 until Sept 22. The announcement, however, noted that at some 60 stations with heavy passenger traffic (to include Ichigaya and Akihabara), the duration of the air conditioning cuts would be reduced from three hours to 90 minutes.
The action was taken at the urging of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which has ordered large-volume users to reduce their power consumption by 15% between the hours of 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The thinking goes that stations tend to be less crowded during the mid-afternoon. But that period also corresponds with the day's peak temperature. And while the sunlight does not reach below ground, because the stations are enclosed, the magazine warns readers they are likely to encounter sauna-like conditions.
"I hope they won't cut off the air conditioning," a 30-ish female office worker remarks. "I work in sales and I have to visit customers all day. I can't very well go calling on clients dripping with perspiration."
"Instead of turning the air conditioning off completely, at stations where you have to transit long corridors to make connections to another line, couldn't they just adjust the thermostats upward a couple of degrees?" asks a salaryman, pointing to such examples as the 700-meter corridor connecting Kokkaigijido-mae station on the Marunouchi/Chiyoda Line with Tameike-Sanno station on the Ginza Line, or the 600-meter walk between Akasaka-Mitsuke station on the Ginza/Marunouchi Lines and Nagatacho station on the Namboku Line.
When Weekly Playboy inquired at Tokyo Metro's public relations office, it was informed, "We suppose passengers are likely to feel hot, but we have got to achieve the targeted 15% reduction in power usage. While the air conditioning will be off in the stations, all the elevators will be operating and inside the cars themselves, we'll reduce the thermostats from 28 degrees to 26. This should make the situation more tolerable for the passengers."
Actually, Weekly Playboy points out, 18 of Tokyo Metro stations are not air conditioned. On June 22, a "manatsu-bi" (mid-summer day) when Tokyo's temperature hit 34 degrees, the reporter visited several of these stations to get an idea of what's in store for passengers after July 1.
The first was Toyosu station on the Yurakucho Line, which also happens, according to Tokyo Metro data, to be the non-air conditioned station with the largest number of passengers. But as it turned out, Toyosu was comfortably cool! How could this be?
"Cool air sinks, so the deeper the subway, the cooler the temperature becomes," explained a station employee. "Toyosu is comparatively deep, so it doesn't get that hot."
The reporter then took the subway to Waseda station on the Tozai Line, which is equivalent to being in the second basement of a building. "When I stepped off the train, I felt a blast of hot air, and as soon as I started walking I was drenched with sweat," he said. "It was oppressive."
Actually, the ambient temperatures in both the above stations were roughly the same. It was having, or lacking, a breeze that made the difference. Since the elevators will (hopefully) be running, the secret of making it through the hot summer months may be to "go deep" whenever possible.© Japan Today