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In Japan, like in many other countries of the world, some passenger cars in the underground are for women only. Malena, a dear friend of Expatclic, presently lives in Tokyo, and sends us this interesting article and some wonderful pics. Thanks Malena !


When I was a child, my Spanish grandmother used to tell me to careful with men. Particularly on public transportation.

tokyo undergroundI did not understand the message. I only felt a mixture of fear, mistrust and confusion.

I wondered why I had to be careful of men… All men in my life, my father, grandfather, uncles, cousins and school mates, all those of the opposite sex, were kind and respectful.

Even though confused, I was an obedient child, I did not speak to strangers, and I stood up to go and sit far from men in the « colectivos ». At that time I was living in the quiet city of Buenos Aires, in South America.

Despite my precautions, it sometime happened that I had to leave my place in a hurry because of the insisting contact of some men…an unpleasant experience. At that point I had gotten the message.

Every journey at pick hours turned into a moment of acute observation, to be ready to run from possible attempts of some “degenerated man on the loose”. My grandmother’s warning is as topical as ever.

Unfortunately, all women who read these lines know what I am talking about. Even today, for us women, it can be dangerous to move around on our own, to walk alone…we can never know when we’ll meet a pervert.

Luckily, modern life does not only bring calamities but progress.

In some parts of the planet it is possible to talk about these problems openly. And in some countries, measures are taken so that women can travel serenely and relaxed in the underground. With no need to have four eyes and to constantly check where men’s gazes go, or where they distractedly rest their unsettling hands…

tokyo undergroundtokyo undergroundIt is the case of Japan, where some passenger cars are reserved to women only.

On some lines of Tokyo underground, the first or last cars are reserved only to women at pick hours. I know the same happens in other countries.

In Japan, in order to prevent further expressions of male harassment, only portables that emit a sound when taking a photo are sold. Does it surprise you?

It is really like that. Portables beep when a picture is taken. You can’t decrease the volume nor turn it off. This stems from the fact that many men used to take indiscreet photos of ladies. They stole pictures of legs, breasts, underwear…

After heavy complaining, the Japanese adopted the solution to only sell portables that have a different “click” when a picture is taken.

For the moment, this is the world we live in… Until when these kinds of pervert approach exists, these measures will make us feel more protected. Thanks God, my grandmother would say…


Malena Gardella
Tokyo, Japan
November 2016
Photos ©Malena Gardella
Translated from Spanish by Claudiaexpat


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