Distressing video recorded in Tokyo’s busiest station shines light on a problem women have been complaining about for years.

There’s a lot to love about Japan’s clean, punctual, and affordable trains. But as with all things in this world, traveling by train in Japan is a basket of positive and negative elements.

For women, by far the most unpleasant thing is the chance of encountering chikan, men who take advantage of the congested conditions onboard trains to surreptitiously grope women. Now comes another undesirable specimen for women to watch out for when using Japan’s rail network: butsukariya, or “bumpers.”

In contrast to chikan, who commit their crimes on the trains, butsukariya get their despicable kicks inside stations, purposely and forcefully bumping into women as they walk through the buildings. While women have been complaining about butsukariya for quite some time, the issue has gotten little attention, in part due to the fact that Japan’s major rail hubs get so crowded at rush hour that it can be hard to make your way through them without accidentally making contact with other people, giving offenders a measure of plausible deniability. However, a video recorded inside Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, the busiest station in the world, is causing outrage online.


Recorded by a student who was traveling through the station and distributed through news organization FNN, the video, which was taken on May 25, shows a man with a backpack repeatedly crashing into women. Most are walking in the opposite direction as he is, but he also shoulders one woman from behind, giving her no chance to avoid or even brace for the impact.

Again, Shinjuku Station is incredibly crowded, and human psychology sometimes works out that if you’re walking by yourself, larger groups won’t give way for you. As such, it’s possible to bump into people in Shinjuku without having any malicious intent, especially if you’re on the clumsy side. However, the man’s steps look fairly certain throughout, and the fact that it’s only women that he’s making contact with in the video makes it hard to see the collisions as anything other than intentional on his part.

Much like chikan, butsukariya take advantage of Japanese society’s tendency to try to de-escalate anger and avoid physical confrontation. Making things even more difficult is that the mobile nature of butsukariya mean that by the time the victim realizes what’s happened, and that they have a legitimate reason to be angry, the butsukariya has often already walked off into the cover of the crowd, or even hopped on a train to make his escape.

In light of the video, rail operator Japan Railways, which manages the station in which it was recorded, has instructed its security guards to more diligently watch for butsukariya and take action should they see one. Hopefully they will, since in Japan many people are hesitant to involve themselves in strangers’ problems, so hoping for help from good-Samaritan passersby in chasing down/subduing butsukariya probably won’t do much good.

Source: FNN Prime
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