Life & Philosophy Psychology Travel

How Japan uses blue LED light panels on station platforms to prevent suicides

Tokyo runs 13 billion passenger trips each year, making its train stations some of the busiest in the world.

Using sound design and various other psychological nudges, rail stations are able to bring some order to the chaos. One of the most effective tactics has been its use of blue LED mood lighting to prevent suicide attempts.

Photo by Allan Richarz/City Lab

Writes Tokyo resident Allan Richarz for Citylab:

According to a study by researchers at the University of Tokyo published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2013, data analyzed over a 10-year period shows an 84 percent decline in the number of suicide attempts at stations where blue lights are installed.

Operating on the theory that exposure to blue light has a calming effect on one’s mood, rail stations in Japan began installing these LED panels as a suicide-prevention measure in 2009. They are strategically located at the ends of each platform—typically the most-isolated and least-trafficked area, and accordingly, the point from which most platform jumps occur. Some stations, such as Shin-Koiwa Station in Tokyo, bolster their LED regime with colored roof panels, allowing blue-tinted sunlight to filter down on to platforms.

Whether it comes to the iPhone or infrastructure, Richarz’s piece is yet another reminder of how everyday design can impact our lives.

Travel Video

A 3,900-mile journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway

What is it about train journeys that make us feel more alive than taking a plane or riding in the car?

For one, trains are part of the environment. Like snakes, they can weave in and out of nature. They go unimpeded into mountains, cities, forests, and slither by oceans.

There’s no better way to see the world than riding the train.

It gives us a chance to paint the world with our eyes. Each blink of an eye flashes novelty, like scrolling an Instagram feed into life. 

Trains are just what we need in a dizzying mobile-first society. They give us a chance to slow down, but at the same time light up the brain with curiosity and compel us to see more, do more, and appreciate the beauty of our surroundings.

PS. I took the train from Seattle down to Los Angeles once, not quite the length of Moscow to the Far-East on the Trans-Siberian Railway, but undoubtedly a memorable one. It was an excellent time to reflect on my own life’s journey and to take pictures. I wrote a semi-fictional book about the trip earlier this year, which you can read for free right here.

Creativity Photography Social Media

The Grand Central Astronaut


Last Friday, I exited the Apple Store and took this picture of a man wearing a spacesuit in the middle of Grand Central. I waited a few days to share it on Instagram because I had other images to share in the queue and because I wasn’t sold on the shot. That lady with the purse also taking a mobile photo threw me off: get out of my picture! I also had a difficult angle to play with since so many people were also huddling on the same staircase to snag the same photo.

But then I realized a couple things:

  1. I should make this picture black and white so the spacesuit pops more and that lady I just mentioned fades out.
  2. The picture met the rules of thirds photography guidelines. The astronaut sits right on the intersection where the eye naturally meets a photo.

On Monday my phone started to blow up. WNYC had shared the image on Twitter. Grand Central Station asked me if they could share it on their Instagram account. Go for it! This lady also wanted to buy it. Ok, cool!


I tend to stay from the obvious images, basically anything that can be Googled. I also don’t like it when everyone’s taking a picture of the same thing. But this astronaut sighting may be the exception. Got to love New York for being weird.

Don’t forget to follow bombtune on Instagram.


Riding the Juggernaut That Left Print Behind

“We are all on that train, the one that left print behind, the one where we are constantly in real time, where we know a little about everything and nothing about anything, really. And there is no quiet car.”

The train is a metaphor for life. It never stops moving. It’s all about the now space and time, just like the Internet.

If you get off the train, you’ll simply be left behind. Even if you hop back on, you will have skipped too many cars to catch up. But you may have given yourself a new life.

The Train Diaries


In the belly of Grand Central this morning.


Newspapers inform / The man atop the train bridge. / He takes on the world. #haiku
Newspapers inform / The man atop the train bridge. / He takes on the world. #haiku


Clean Trains

The only place most people can see NYC subway graffiti is on social media.

The primary place New York City subway graffiti lives today: #cleantrain on Instagram

The graffiti never dies, it just gets cleaned off before the trains depart the train yard to go public.


The goal, Thomas says, is to create “a beautiful disruption into a daily routine.”

Nothing like viewing public art on the train commute to work. I wish Metro North did something like this.

The Amtrak Corridor

Culture Tech

Idle Movement

I sat next to this old man yesterday. He just sat there on the train and did absolutely nothing for an hour. He didn’t sleep, read, or squirm; he just breathed and blinked about fifty times. It was beautiful, honestly.

In an age of the Smartphone and constant distraction or “productivity,” I find it absolutely remarkable that someone can just sit that still.

The first thing I did (phone in hand, naturally) is write down the observation in Evernote so I could come back to it later. But I wonder if he was thinking the same thing about me in his mind, observing this young guy typing ferociously onto a small screen. Was he going to remember that moment like I’m remembering it? I recorded it after all, otherwise, it’d just be another observation in the dust.

But I was still so jealous of his anti-digital stoicism.

People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.

A.A. Milne

Maybe I don’t have to remember everything. Maybe I don’t need to meditate just to regain my focus and disconnect like it’s the early 1990s. Maybe the next train ride I’ll just sit there and ride into Grand Central hands-free.

Stop, I’m dreaming…


The New York Subway Signs Experiment