In the UK if you are late for work and blame it on the train your boss will probably have a go at you for not taking the possibility of a late train into account. In Japan things are done differently, if you say you are late because of a train, your boss simply won’t believe you. That is because trains are so incredibly prompt here. Back in the day I used to use teletext as a guide to set my watch by, now I use the trains. If a train is due at 10:23, you will see doors opening in front of you at 10:23 exactly.
Tokyo and Yokohama’s train systems are stretched enough as it is though, when a train is late the overcrowding can be unbelievable. After being forced to play sardines for however long it takes to get to your destination, the last thing you want is an angry boss. To prove to them that you didn’t just oversleep the train companies have come up with an ingenious solution, the Chien Shoumeisho.
Chien Shoumeisho literally means delay proof document and is a little slip of paper that has a few holes punched in the sides. They are given out by the station attendants as you leave the ticket barriers. The message in the centre of the slip is from the stationmaster and basically says “Yep, really, the train was late”. Down the sides the attendant marks quite how late the train was by punching a hole in the correct box. The boxes run in 5 minute intervals and go from top right to bottom left. Across the bottom the attendant can mark the date.
As you can see from the picture above, my train was late by 60 minutes on the 17th. Oddly this resulted in me being only 45 minutes late for work, I must have walked super fast from the station. It strikes me that these things would be really easy to forge, seeing as nobody signs them. All you would need to do would be to photocopy a used one. I wonder if anyone has ever done such a thing, I’m sure there is a hit crime caper movie in this idea at least.