Earlier this week, a Japanese commuter accidentally fell through the gap between train and platform. The accident happened at the Minami-Urawa station, which I've traveled through many times as I used to live near it; I don't recall the gap being any wider than normal, five or six inches, so the woman must have been slight of form. And she fell in up to her waist. In any case, after ordering the driver not to move, a train official got on the PA and asked commuters on the platform—average men and women who presumably do not have Henry Cavill's gym body—to help shift the train.
Several dozen people are not enough to lift a 32-ton railcar, but they are enough, working in concert, to press against the train and cause the suspension on the other side to fully load. With one side sprung and the other unsprung, the gap widened enough for a conductor to pull the woman free. CG reenactment (with considerably less bodies) below:As you saw, the rescue, which was completed quickly enough that the train was back on its way in eight minutes, was followed by a round of applause. Both the punctuality and the clapping following a group act are very Japanese, as is the notion of a lot of people working together to accomplish something.
Strangely enough, this act reminded me of recycling. During my first day on the job as an assistant teacher in a Japanese school, I observed a class of seventh graders as they finished up their lunch. Each student was allotted a box of milk, and when finished with his the boy nearest me crushed his into a perfectly flat shape. I figured the kid had OCD, then noticed that every student in the class followed suit, crushing their milkboxes into flat sheets.
A teacher explained it to me: All 2,000 kids in the school are instructed to crush their milkboxes. That means way more milkboxes fit in way less recycling bags. The guy hauling those bags to the truck makes less trips. In the truck, there's no energy-sucking compactor required, and the truck itself makes less trips because it doesn't fill up as quickly. While the weight of the recycling has not changed, its volume has decreased by perhaps a factor of ten. And all of this energy savings require very little effort—maybe two seconds each—from the individual students. This was a great example of a lot of people working together, and individually expending very little effort, to accomplish something much larger.
As for the train rescue: Would it happen in your city? It might have in the New York of my youth, but had this woman become trapped at current-day Union Square, I think some would not participate for fear of a lawsuit, and others would react by whipping out their phones to capture the moment for their juicy Facebook status update of the day. (The photograph above was captured by a reporter.)