Daily Life

Terrible Trainspotters

Trainspotters in Japan, referred to somewhat derogatorily as Tetsuo (鉄男) or Tetsuko (鉄子)(a play on words forming a portmanteau from the words for “rail” and common suffixes used to indicate a man or woman <there are commonly still only two genders in Japanese>, as well as being typical <though slightly archaic>names) have a well-earned reputation for being rude.

It’s a common perception that trainspotters crowd public thoroughfares and are pushy and ill-mannered as they await for the chance to get their photo of a train.

I’d say the vast majority are just keen snappers and it’s only the antisocial behavior of the odd one here or there that causes widespread ire.

But today I got to experience annoyance from trainspotters first hand. They were waiting for some special train running along the JR Chuo Line, which I pass under a couple of times at various points during my customary morning ride.

At one point near a bridge, I was astonished to see a couple of dozen or more trainspotter had set up their elaborate cameras to take a shot.

Notably, they had crowded the stairs I use to carry my bike from the bike path at the point where it shifts from the bottom to the top of the levy running alongside the Tama River.

There was no way i could get through. And I was astonished to find that there was no way they were going to give ground to allow me to pass.

What I should have done was just stand in front of their cameras and spoil the shot. What I did do, in a rare show of maturity, was smile and acknowledge the efforts they’d made to get a good spot for the photo and walked up the embankment.

Call it people pleasing, perhaps, but I was on a bit of a high because it had been a glorious morning with a simply breathtaking view of the full moon setting and a wonderfully clear Mount Fuji.

I rued not having brought my own camera with me and having to rely on the terrible shots I get from my mobile phone.

And I also remembered the old days of being in a media scrum and how tough it was to position yourself to get a shot and how much I had fought against other snappers in an effort to get the best pic.

Most of all, though, is that I’ve just lost the will to fight. Especially battles I have no hope of winning. I would like to think I wouldn’t behave in the same way as the trainspotters, but experience has showed me that put in a similar situation, I have usually done so.