Alcohol is believed to have played a role.

Tokyo has one of the largest and busiest train systems in the world. It’s a bustling ecosystem of people from all walks of life crossing paths and sitting shoulder to shoulder as they go about their daily lives. With such a vast array of people, it’s perhaps expected that surreal incidents can sometimes occur.

Case in point: On 1 August at about 2:04 in the afternoon, a train on the Yamanote Line was pulling in to Hamamatsucho Station in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. Apparently, the shifting momentum of the train’s stopping was too much to handle for a man in his 50s who was standing at the time.

Losing his balance, he fell down in such a way that his head somehow managed to get wedged underneath the bench seats.

That might be a little hard to envision, so let’s take a quick look at how these particular seats are designed. As seen in the picture below, some seats are equipped with a heater underneath for chilly winter days. However, these particular heaters have a 15-centimeter (5.9-inch) gap with the floor of the train car.

That rounded gap proved to be just the right size for the man’s head to squeeze in, but not back out.

Other passengers contacted the conductor who confirmed the man was stuck. Ambulance crews and technicians were then called in to deal with the predicament.

They were able to free the man by disassembling part of the seat and removing the heating unit. The entire process took about an hour and was said to affect about 17,000 people. Paramedics at the scene said there was no sign of head trauma, but the man seemed intoxicated.

So, what did we learn from this? We probably shouldn’t discourage people from riding the train while drunk since it’s still probably the safest way to get around in such a state. I guess we could say, “don’t stand on a train while drunk,” but on the crowded trains of Tokyo that’s not always really practical advice either.

▼ This guy may never know how close he came to a similar fate.

In the end, probably the best thing any of us can do is whenever we learn that someone we know is going to do some drinking, just give them a friendly reminder to try to avoid getting their heads stuck under seats.

Together, we can make a difference.

Source: Asahi Shimbun Digital
Top image: Wikipedia/LERK
Insert images: Wikipedia/Abasaa, Wikipedia/Qurren, Wikipedia/Fluffy.nns