In an era when many people, places and things are slapped with superlatives of all kinds (often for the purpose of marketing said person, place or thing), the massiveness of Shinjuku Station (新宿駅), a commuter rail hub straddling the border of Tokyo’s Shinjuku and Shibuya wards, is the real thing. The station has 36 platforms, over 200 exits and, with an average of more than 3.5 million people per day, it is the world’s busiest train station as measured by passenger volume. Accept no substitute.

The goal of this short film is straightforward: to briefly dip into the flow of rush hour. This was shot on a weekday morning, so the retail parts of the station were not yet open. The focus is on the commuting experience. Despite all of the people, there is little chaos. Traffic flows are organic, but organized, as if everyone is moving gracefully according to choreography.

At a quick glance, it might seem that everyone is head down, focused on getting in and out with the most efficiency. But if you stand patiently in one place, you begin to see expression at the individual level. Passengers interacting with each other, with vendors, railway staff carefully watching the platform edge and warning of approaching trains, wistful daydreamers and even a smile and laugh now and then are all part of the ballet.

This post is part of The Tokyo Project. Click here to go to the introduction and table of contents.

Additional volumes: Volume 2, Volume 3