Lonely Planet Writer

Mystery of the missing hand straps on Tokyo trains

Police in Tokyo are investigating the unusual disappearance of at least 400 hand straps from trains in the Tokyo area since November.

Inside a Tokyo train carriage.
Inside a Tokyo train carriage. Image by Derek A. / CC BY 2.0

The hand straps – used by commuters to hang on to in Tokyo’s often packed rush-hour trains – have been stolen from carriages on a number of different lines, including 182 stolen from trains on the Denentoshi line. Vandalism is uncommon in Japan, and it’s unclear what use the culprit or culprits would have for the straps, which have little resale value – fans of rail memorabilia paid between ¥100 and ¥200 (US$1.50) per strap when a private rail line recently replaced a batch of them. One local journalist suggested the action was likely a ‘prank’. Rail operators have appealed to the public for any information. Read more: japantimes.co.jp