Taking the train is by far the most common way to get around urban and suburban Japan. By its very nature, though, using public transportation means being out in public, which in Japan means following social norms about proper manners and not bothering your fellow passengers.
The average Tokyo commuter spends an hour each way on the train, though. It can be hard to follow all of the implicit rules of train etiquette during such a lengthy ride, and here are 10 minor breaches of etiquette that some Japanese men are willing to turn a blind eye to.
Internet portal Web R25 recently surveyed 200 men on the subject. The respondents, all working adults between the ages of 20 and 39, were given a list of behaviors that, while not outright prohibited, are generally frowned upon while riding the train, and asked to pick up to three that they personally had no problem with others doing.
10. Openly reading sexy articles in a magazine (7.5%)
Just to clarify, the respondents weren’t talking about leafing through dedicated porno rags while riding the rails. Many sports and men’s interest magazines in Japan, though, often have swimsuit model spreads or even nude photos, and 7.5% of those asked felt this was an acceptable pick-me-up before or after a tough day at the office.
9. Having a lively conversation in a loud voice (8%)
This is one of the odder choices on the list, considering that the word “loud” usually implies that the sound is genuinely bothering others.
8. Drinking alcohol (9%)
Using public transportation essentially means you’ve always got a designated driver, so why not crack open a cold one, roughly one in ten men said.
7. Putting on makeup (10%)
Obviously, putting on powder that’s going to flitter about the interior of the train car would be a problem. But assuming a woman’s cosmetics don’t get on any other passengers, 10% of the respondents said they think it’s OK.
6. Kissing/snuggling (10.5%)
Because hey, maybe the lipstick your girlfriend just put on in the train has her lips looking extra inviting.
5. Not folding up strollers while on the train (12%)
Traditional manners dictate that after boarding the train, you should take your child out of the stroller and fold it up, so as not to take up space where other passengers could be standing. Perhaps as a result of Japanese men becoming more involved with child-rearing than in previous generations, though, some guys realize that’s not always such an easy thing to do, and are willing to give parents of small children a pass.
4. Eating/drinking (14%)
This one carried the extra stipulation that it’s only OK if the food or drink doesn’t have a strong smell, so no matter how much you may like natto, please wait until you get home to enjoy your snack of fermented soybeans.
3. Listening to music on your headphones at a volume where others can hear it, but that’s still quieter than the voices of the people talking around you (15.5%)
As long as your tunes meet all those conditions, it isn’t any more intrusive than the voices of people having conversations on the train, or so the logic behind this choice seems to go.
2. Playing portable/mobile games while wearing a suit (49.5%)
If you’re not in the office, what’s wrong with playing some games, even if you’re dressed for work?
1. Reading manga while wearing a suit (55%)
Finally, the majority of the survey respondents felt it’s totally fine to kill time on the train by reading some comics. After all, even if you’re wearing the de facto uniform of a productive member of adult society and you’ve got nothing more dramatic than a day of data analysis and sales meetings on your work schedule, everyone enjoys a little escapist adventure now and again.
Sources: Web R25/Yahoo! Japan
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