Tokyo Metro subway stations to heat up from Friday


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.

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And the price for all those years of cheap electricity, gained by not making TEPCO bring its safety standards up to needed levels, continues to mount. The price/value equation for Tokyo is clearly dropping even lower than it already was.

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The price/value equation for Tokyo is clearly dropping even lower than it already was.

I don't think this is a consideration at all. We are residents and citizens, it's just what we have to deal with right now. It could be far worse.

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I am starting to go bug eyed with jealousy and foaming at the mouth as all my friends make preparations for their summer exodus(es? Exodi?!) back home for the summer. This is going to be miserable.

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I don't think this is a consideration at all. We are residents and citizens, it's just what we have to deal with right now. It could be far worse

Smorkian -- really. IMO it is a critical "consideration". Tokyo is over-priced to begin with, and to have to deal with additional inconveniencies makes it even less attractive. Now that may not be a factor for you, since you are already here, but what do you think the impact is on foreigners potentially considering locating here, or one's who are here, but may have the option of re-locating somewhere else? You need to look beyond your myopic little world of "we are residents and citizens" and look at the big picture. Japan was a tough sell for many ex-pats to begin with. Things like this make it even tougher, since they have no need to go along with the "just what we have to deal with right now" mentality. As a result, Japan's attractiveness/competitiveness just keeps dropping, along with foreign investment. And if you don't think that is a "consideration" for Japan, just wait three to five years.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japan is always hot and humid during the summer. What's actually lacking in Japanese residential single homes is the windowless basement room. Basement can be designed waterproof with concrete walls and using R30 insulation on the ceiling. This provides natural cool room during the summer without using A/C and warm room in the winter, similar to the cave. If you are doing any new or remodel construction, basement room is a nice idea without using additional land.

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herefornow. Don't feel bad, there is this element of expats who feel they have to out "|Gambaro" the Japanese in order to fit in.

I am a long term resident and I already hated summers here before this crisis. Both for the insane arctic temperatures in my office and on the train and the wet humid hell of Tokyo from July to Sept. outdoors. I end up sick every year for much of the summer from the contrast. So in one small way, this year may be a blessing for my lungs.

But you are dead right about the livability factor being impacted. Companies, expats and business people do take into account these soft issues when looking at Tokyo and Japan for business. If the barriers, limitations and closed off business world of Japan do not disuade you from coming here, we can now offer radiation worries, overheated stations and probable black outs.

Is it the realty we just have to buck up and deal with. Yes, sadly it is. But no one says we have to like it or keep quiet about it. Complaining may well become the one comfort we receive this summer.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

to “go deep” whenever possible

Absolutely words to live by.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I live in Fukuoka, not Tokyo. But I was in Tokyo last week, and to me the AC in the subway and the stations were FAR colder then the AC they (don't) turn on in the Fukuoka subway stations.

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Companies need to enact, TODAY, a plan to allow people to go fully casual this year. If you see clients, well... keep a suit at the office and swap over for meetings. If you are unlucky enough to be out doing that all day, there is probably no salvation for you. Maybe companies could spend some of their saved energy bills on taxis for sales people.

Also I was in Ueno yesterday and the street was being airconned thanks to the twits running shops all along the side of the road. Inside the shops you could house pengins and have to watch out for ice burgs. So much for saving energy.

All of society may be suffering on trains and in stations, while some morons with open shops cool the streets for 20 meters outside their doors and offset any savings the rest of us are enduring to achieve.

Police should start giving out tickets for this behavior. And I am sure they could find a good use for the income from all the citations they would be giving out.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You need to look beyond your myopic little world of "we are residents and citizens" and look at the big picture. Japan was a tough sell for many ex-pats to begin with.

Wow, so the most important demographic affected by all of this is not the near 130 million residents nor the 1.5 million foreign residents, but the small number of transient expats who may or may not relocate.

Got ya. I see where the priorities lie. Silly me for thinking the overwhelming percentage of people who actually, not potentially, live here might be more important.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Hmm, the problem isn't about saving electricity. It's about reducing peak demand. So saving electricity from noon to 3:00pm seems a little pointless, since the peak occurs around 6:00pm.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

One the many things I tout about the Tokyo subway system to friends in the US is the availability of AC at stations in the summer. "Cool air sinks" ? Forget about about it!

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Hmm, the problem isn't about saving electricity.

That much is correct. This exercise is simply one more example of the futile practice of putting on a display of doing something, rather than actually addressing a problem.

Just as putting out sprays of ethanol (which is entirely ineffective against a virus) was the method by which Tokyo Metro put on its little pantomime of protecting its users against an influenza epidemic a couple of years ago, instead of supplying soap in all station washrooms (which would, you'd think, be kind of expected in a developed country in 2011).

Just as tilting your head and blinking is considered the same thing as thinking about a problem.

Just as getting a pretty face to say "Tohoku vegetables are safe" is the same thing as scientific proof of safety.

The locals will believe that by being drenched in perspiration all day, they're somehow playing their part in the solution.

These people are utterly inept, but think that if they put on a little display the problem will disappear. I despair.

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Sorry but I disagree about saving energy. If you don't create a "habit" of saving energy, then you cannot get a general public anywhere on earth to conserve during the periods that you want them to.

There is also the issue that the Peak period may well fluxuate given the conditions of a day.

So the only logical solution is to advocate a program of comprehensive energy savings. And even then I think it will be hard to achieve the goals we want to see during peak times.

Like the aircons filling the streets of Ueno yesterday between 2pm and 4pm. Right on the peak when the news was saying power use was approaching the mid 90s pecent.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And Ivan. Funny how the CDC and other agencies seem to think that alcohol sprays do indeed help. Wonder if we should believe you or them?

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tkoind - alcohol is effective against bacteria and certain parasites. Doesn't do a thing against influenza. CDC recommends hand sanitiser if soap and water is unavailable.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

furthermore tkoind - can you explain why the Metro can't provide soap?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Soap costs money. Actually one may find soap in some vending machines, which also sell toilet paper. Conveniently located in the toilets hand-wash rooms.

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@sfjp30: Did you write, 'insulation'? LOL! Brilliant. Funniest thing I've read for, well, years!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

by all means possible keep the pachinko lights on though.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Toronto Deep Lake Water Cooling... you stick a giant tube underwater and pump the hot down and get cold back and save major $$$ on large scale airconditioning. Been in service since 2004.

I don't know, maybe it has a use outside of Toronto? Modified so that it's not a drinking water system, but the cooler water in a closed loop would be cheaper to run than Toronto's fresh water system. Maybe.... Maybe even in a nation surrounded by water, in the middle of summer, in heatwave after heatwave?

Hmm.. Naw, nvm...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just keep few ambulances ready.

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Hey YongYang: Whats so funny about 'insulation' My apartment is insulated to a very high level and triple glazed. Seems to be becoming the norm here with new builds.

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YongYangJun. 30, 2011 - 12:24PM JST @sfjp30: Did you write, 'insulation'? LOL! Brilliant. Funniest thing I've read for, well, years!

Attic insulation can be fiberglass blankets or blown in insulation. This is normal of home construction use. R30 is the tickness of the blanket. This is used to cool or retain constant temperature in your house.

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It will cost a lot more to re-air con after three hours of non-usage rather than just adjusting the temperature at each station . When they turn those machines back on, they will crank 100% for hours.

How can such brilliant people make such dumb stupid decisions?


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Doubt YongYang ever seen shows like "Before/After" where they revamp old houses or "Dream-house", etc. Noticed we are getting a few new "Sweden Houses" in the neighbourhood.

But insulation 2-8 floors below ground means zilch, unless it is for water.

As was said many people do ride those trains as well as JR ones during the outages and besides salary-man/woman there also also many pensioners and mothers with toddlers as well as Students, etc using them.

The 12:00-15:00 time-slot is an important one granted not a rush-hour one.

Keep the ambulances parked outside the stations.

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What a great idea!!!! Heat the already stinking hot stations up..... Someones really thinking ahead there, lets hope they have free water and lots of medical staff on standby. But knowing Japan they wont think of that.

As for their campaign to increase tourists, l can see it now "Japan beautiful one day glowing the next." Between the reduced services, hotter stations, uncertainty about the NPP and food safety. I for one will be doing my part and spreading the message "stay the hell away from Japan"

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Wow! Japalogic at its finest! Yeah, turn the aircon off during the hottest part of the day. What a complete bunch of morons! I hope they have plenty of ambulance staff on hand to catch the minions as they drop.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Hmm, the problem isn't about saving electricity. It's about reducing peak demand. So saving electricity from noon to 3:00pm seems a little pointless, since the peak occurs around 6:00pm.

Good point. The idiots seem to think that electricity supply is like a bucket of water, or it's all just piled up or something, and if we use less during the day we'll have more to use at night.

I don't know why people don't just call BS on it all.

It doesn't matter if the A/C is turned off during the afternoon, if they turn it on again for the rush, it will have exactly the same effect as if it had been on all day.

They should restrict vending machines and pachinko parlours/movie theatres/amusement parks/arcades to only be able to do business between 10am to 3pm, and not at peek electricity-use times.

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the price of the train tickets has not been reduced... therefore saving power = saving money, the cash difference should be given to Fukushima evacuees

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I know what the 2nd level of Hell is: the Friday night last train in Shinjuku from this week on.

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on the brighter side, the girls will be wearing VERY skimpy clothes and sweating !

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The thinking goes that stations tend to be less crowded during the mid-afternoon

I was on the train today exactly at that time and it was completely full. Doubt that these people have done a proper research. Also, I think that Keio line isn't saving much electricity as I was freezing on the train today. Seems like there are a lot of meaningless actions going on. Stop the AC at stations, but have some trains set the temperature to 20? (that's how it felt, not sure what the exact temperature was...) It'll be much better to establish clear standards and have all lines and all stations follow the same rules until September.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This really informative article in the Economist has a great graph that clarifies power use throughout the day. Basically, industrial use is stable over the 24 hours, commercial use rises dramatically between about 11 and 6, while the domestic peak is from about 5 to 9. So shops and businesses need to cut right back in the daytime, including stations, who somehow feel they've been let off the hook, and the rest of us need to cut down late afternoon and evening. I agree, it seems that many businesses are just cocking a snook. I see room for at least 50% reductions in lighting in stations, on trains, and the inbound trains could use natural ventilation, ie open windows for inbound trains from about 1 pm, keeping the aircon, at 28 for the trains out of Tokyo for the evening commute. In fact, cutting down on the lighting and machines running would reduce the amount of heat being generated. They seriously need to install fans to improve ventilation - these use a lot less juice than aircon, and would make some of the worst stations at least bearable without resorting to aircon on the platform.

But of course the subplot of all this is to make us suffer to twist everyone's arm that the present number of nuclear power stations is necessary and keep everyone hooked up to their current electricity fix.

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Isn't this going to cause even more people to flip out?

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What's the betting this policy was decided by a committee of "experts" who travel more often in a government limousine (paid for by us, the sweating minions) than on a train?

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Maybe on many of these train stations, even though it's hot and humid, they should install ceiling fans to circulate the air so you would perspire less.

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Now if only the Japanese would adjust their clothing to the new reality-it could be like Venice beach all day!

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"Hmm, the problem isn't about saving electricity. It's about reducing peak demand. So saving electricity from noon to 3:00pm seems a little pointless, since the peak occurs around 6:00pm."

Not according to Tepco (and they should know) the peak is just after lunch. Check it your self and see.

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Canned up underground shoulder-to-shoulder with sweaty smelly people in a hot and humid train..... hmmmmmmm... yup. That would drive me insane.

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I'd like to be hot from no air conditioner rather than be hot from radiation. I'd like to have no power for 4 hours a day rather than watch us all die of poisoning. Seriously, the economy? That's more important than your children?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Feel sorry for all the Tokyo folk. Using the subway would be absolutely my last choice in transport. Even a 2-hour bike ride to work would be preferable.

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There are NO A/c Stations in the Entire N.Y.Subway, But we Do have a full menu of Loonys to divert our attention from this particular "Hell on Earth-Good Luck & Don't "Sweat" the small stuff!

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There are NO A/c Stations in the Entire N.Y.Subway

Are you somehow comparing NY's summer with Tokyo's? Tokyo is heating up at four times the pace of global warming - three degrees in the last century.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

historical note: in the early 1970s very few tokyo subways were airconditioned. they did, however, have (!gasp!) WINDOWS THAT OPENED! and we opened them. since underground tunnels are cool by nature, cool air blew into the cars!!! isn't that a great idea? also, many underground stations had (!wait for it!) CEILING FANS! it is a well-known fact that (?are you ready?) MOVING AIR COOLS THE BODY! but now everything is so much more technologically advanced, not to mention uses so much more energy, and we are so much less comfortable. look how far we have advanced, aren't we a marvel!

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