Train Etiquette in Japan

You do not expect to see words like run, rush, push when you talk about etiquette. Yet, it is very common in Japan to experience this when traveling in trains. Of course, it is not only about running and pushing, but about being silent, giving seat to elders/expecting mothers/etc and a lot more – all this an important part of the “train manner” in Japan.

For some weird reason the Japanese are usually rushing – to nowhere. I would understand if it was only in the mornings or when people are trying to get onto a train. But that is how it is even in the evenings, people just get out of the train and start running. Aren’t they supposed to be going home at this hour? Then why the rush? Of course, I would love to get back home at the earliest possible, take off my shoes, and relax. But why run? this is something which I have failed to understand in all these years.

If you do manage to get to the train in time and it is crowded with people, just push yourself in. Pushing your way into the train is not considered rude….so if you don’t get a space to stand, well just push and make some…
Oh but push with your body, never with your hands….and it should be a polite but firm push….and not a jolt.

In fact, train station has “pushers” – basically people whose job is to push the peop4178456261_603cf70604le into the train and make sure the door closes and locks before the train moves.
Here is an interesting video you may want to see to get an idea how it works.
Note: This is not a usual scenario everywhere so do not think you will have to deal with it when you are in Japan.

Once inside the train, you will realize that nobody is talking. Almost everybody on the train can basically be divided into four categories. The “music lovers” who have headphones on and are listening to music, the “fiddlers” who just fiddlie around with their mobile phones/Nintendo DS, the “readers” – who love to read – newspapers, books, magazines, comics (manga), in fact Japanese are known to be extremely fond of reading ..and last but not the least – the “sleepers” ….i mean they definitely have some secret ability to sense the “stations” they have to get off at. No matter how deep in sleep they seem to be in, they will get up immediately as soon as the train arrives on the platform. There are the occasional “talkers” too…but they are usually whispering except of course the teenage girls…but you can never get to stop them, can you?

(The poster here is one of the many posters that you will see inside the trains in Japan asking people to follow the train manners)

Remember : there are priority seats reserved for the elderly, expecting mothers, adults with babies/toddlers, and wounded people/people with disabilities. And never forget to switch off your mobile phones when you are near these seats. At all other places inside the train, it is okay to keep the phone on but strictly on “manner mode” …you don’t want to be stared at or sometimes rebuffed by some elderly lady if you don’t follow the “manner”.



photo by:


Wallslide

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