Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hiroshima Plays Catchup

Hiroshima Prefecture has finally had enough sense to install automatic ticket gates in some of the more frequented train stations (i.e. Hiroshima Station (広島駅) itself). When I first arrived, it really did surprise me that a large and touristy city like this wouldn't already be modernized. I had already seen automatic gates in Tokyo (of course), Fukuoka, Osaka, and Sapporo. Even a southern city like Matsuyama is no exception.

Without automatic ticket gates, commuters coming into Hiroshima on the early trains were herded towards three station attendant booths to pass through. It was chaos every time - I swear I saw people just walk through without receiving a second glance from JR. Others flashed commuter passes, which given the split second looks they received, could just as easily been pieces of paper saying "I like chicken".

Naturally, the shinkansen exit at Hiroshima has always had automatic gates; still, security seems relatively lax in Hiroshima Station. The shinkansen fare adjustment windows leave their handicapped security gates open at all times, leading to what I assume might be the same type of bum rush on the local train side.

When you live near a station like this, it's no wonder people start looking for chinks in the armor.

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