...and how it runs counter to so much of what Japanese culture stands for. | 22 Words

Tokyo is known as a very clean, respectful, and courteous city, but all the manners in the world can't make the nightmare of the city's rush hour any better.

via: Michael Wolf

But for millions of residents, old and young, rich and poor, the uncomfortable commute happens twice a day, every workday.

German photographer Michael Wolf wanted to document the strange vibes he got from the riders every day.

via: Michael Wolf

So he sat on the subway platform for days on end...

via: Michael Wolf

...snapping pics of riders.

via: Michael Wolf

Some of them were aware they were being shot.

via: Michael Wolf

(Like this guy.)

via: Michael Wolf

(And her.)

via: Michael Wolf

But others weren't.

via: Michael Wolf

The result is a strangely beautiful...

via: Michael Wolf

...but almost horrific look at the people commuting every day.

via: Michael Wolf

Wolf called the series "Tokyo Compression."

via: Michael Wolf

He wanted to highlight the indignity of the crowded trains...

via: Michael Wolf

...and how it runs counter to so much of what Japanese culture stands for.

via: Michael Wolf

Yet every day, people line up and pack in to get to where they need to be.

via: Michael Wolf

Wolf said to CNN, "You're living life as a sardine — it's horrific. This is not a dignified way of living. It's like looking into a ride in hell."

via: Michael Wolf

Those words might sound dramatic, but the expressions on the riders' faces support the assertion.

via: Michael Wolf

Of course, the subway is NOT hell, but after a long day at work, it's probably not going to do much to help people decompress.

via: Michael Wolf

So you're left with pitiful poses...

via: Michael Wolf

...strained expressions...

via: Michael Wolf

...and very sad eyes.

via: Michael Wolf

It's not a heartwarming look at Tokyo city life, but it's fascinating nonetheless.