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15 rude things not to do on trains in Japan

49 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Just about every visitor to Japan is impressed by three things about Japan’s trains: they’re clean, they’re punctual, and their passengers are extremely polite. However, it’s not like everyone in Japan has impeccable manners, and the high standards for public transportation etiquette mean that there are plenty of times when Japanese people feel like one of their fellow passengers is doing something inconsiderate.

Japanese travel provider Air Trip recently conducted a survey asking its users what sort of behavior they think is impolite while riding public transportation, so let’s take a look at the 930 responses for trains (multiple responses were allowed).

15. Reading while the train is crowded (10.9 percent of responses)

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Unolding a newspaper is obviously an intrusion on others’ space on a crowded train, but you can make the same complaint about books if you’re standing millimeters away from someone else on a shoulder-to-shoulder train at rush hour.

14. Drinking beer/alcoholic beverages (20 percent)

This is a good time to point out that the list is specifically for non-Shinkansen trains. While knocking back a cold one is perfectly acceptable on Japan’s bullet trains (which even sell beer onboard), for non-Shinkansen trains, especially short-haul, downtown rides, good manners dictate waiting until you get off to get your drink on.

13. Eating (26.3 percent)

As with drinking, this is a bit of a gray area. For long-haul trains going to sightseeing areas, especially those with reserved seats and fold-out trays, eating isn’t a problem. After all, stations where such trains stop sell delicious, region-specific bento boxed lunches specifically because they expect people to eat onboard. But if you’re riding, say, a train or subway in downtown Tokyo? Many people would prefer you limit yourself to, at most, snack foods you can eat in a single bite.

12. Heavily scented perfume/cologne (27.6 percent)

Japan isn’t particularly keen on powerful personal fragrances to begin with, and that aversion goes double for shared, enclosed spaces.

11. Leaving behind trash (28.2 percent)

Yes, it is a pain that Japanese train stations often have few trash cans, and sometimes none at all. Doesn’t matter-stick your trash in your bag and carry it home instead of leaving it on the train.

10. Riding the train while drunk (31.7 percent)

The implication here is that, being drunk, the person is also taking up extra space by slouching across the bench seat, behaving belligerently, or subjecting everyone around them to their booze breath bouquet (in a gross variant of Number 12). If you’re in such bad shape, other passengers would probably prefer you wait until you’ve sobered up a bit before you hop on the train.

9. Making a mad dash to get onto the train (32.2 percent)

Japan’s trains are just about always on schedule, so it’s easy to know what time you need to be at the platform by, and if you can’t get on without barreling through the already-closing doors and potentially slamming into someone who’s already aboard, waiting for the next train is probably the better option.

8. Using a smartphone when the train is crowded (36.3 percent)

We already covered reading print media in Number 15, but with smartphones now being the preferred way to kill time while riding the rails, it’s important to remember that when standing on a crowded train, no one wants their back or chest to be used as someone else’s smartphone stand, especially if there’s some vigorous tapping going on.

7. Applying makeup (40.5 percent)

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Photo: PAKUTASO

Another proximity issue, as many people feel uncomfortable sitting right next to someone who’s dusting themselves with powder or applying tints to their skin, lips, or eyelashes, since the don’t want any cosmetic product to ride a draft of air onto them.

6. Getting on or off the train rudely (42.4 percent)

A separate category from dashing onto the train, this complaint covers shouldering people trying to move in the opposite direction as you board or exit.

5. Loud headphone/earphone volume (54 percent)

The point of compact personal speakers is that the sound is supposed to be only for the wearer. If other people can hear the music, it’s too loud.

4. Impolite baggage holding (54,1 percent)

Because of the human body’s skeletal structure, a single person takes up extra space if they’re wearing a backpack, as opposed to holding it at their side or in front of them. The parcel shelf above the bench seats in Japanese trains is also a good option for backpacks or large purses or shopping bags.

3. Talking on the phone (56.3 percent)

Pretty much every rail company in Japan has regular onboard announcements asking passengers to refrain from talking on the phone. Pretty much anything other than a quick, hushed “Sorry, on the train. Can’t talk” is considered too long a telephone conversation.

2. Talking in a loud voice (58.5 percent)

Even if you’re talking to a face-to-face friend instead of one on the phone, most people still don’t want to be forced to hear each and every word, especially with how many people enjoy taking a nap on the train in Japan.

1. Taking up more than your fair share of the seating space (72.8 percent)

Japanese train seats, whether in two-by-two or bench formation, aren’t designed with a whole lot of extra per-person space. Excessive spreading, stretching, or slouching are all seen as definite nos, as is crossing your legs or putting your bags next to you.

That might seem like a lot to remember, but it largely boils down to remembering that public transportation is shared transportation, and that the complete strangers who also happen to be on the same train aren’t there because they really want to smell, hear, or be unnecessarily pressed against you. Keep that in mind, and you should be fine, especially if you remember to give a polite “Sumimasen” (“Excuse me”) to whoever was inconvenienced should you realize you did something on the list.

Source: Air Trip

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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-- Japanese woman stumbles on the power of the infamous “gaijin seat” phenomenon during flight

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© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

49 Comments
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Fart?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Agree about all points but Five missing.

Selfie or Taking pictures or Videos

Tired people and their annoying posture

Loudy School Teenagers (this is the worst in UK in public bus)

Tourist, when local people stare at loudy tourist, those tourist make faces..shows atitude and stare back at the locals and even make Youtube videos complaining about it.

Also when you're in a group, one of your people is loud but don't say anything to stop him/her and when you're alone, you stare at other loud group and whether to take gut out or not to stop them.
-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Riding Japanese trains sure requires a lot of cultural awareness, and toughness if you're on the subway in Tokyo or Osaka at peak hour.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I'm surprised "falling asleep on the person next to you" didn't make the list.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

I think all rules are broken daily in Osaka. It is a completely different experience than train riding in Tokyo.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Sleeping on the train while taking up three or four seats is pretty rude. Hell, sleeping on the train floor is rude. I've seen it all.

Although I wasn't a witness, one of my colleagues was vomitted all over by another passenger. Quite rude!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Bio-terrorism (attacking and causing damage to your senses). 1. Salarymen breathing on you with death breath that could easily strip paint of a wall. 2. (In the summer) the realization that many people never use deodorant.

So basic hygiene should be taught and promoted as a rule too.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

15 ‚rude‘ things not to do on trains anywhere

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Tough guys. Please desist from sitting with legs akimbo, displaying your alpha male wares.

We're not impressed.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Who compiled this list?  And if these are generally perceived as being rude, why are they (and plenty other worse things - like break wind or read porn or feel up fellow passengers) not on the list?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

No. 6 really annoyed me when I lived in the Kanto area. It's really simple - first the people getting off get off, and then the people on the platform get on. It was amazing the amount of barging and shoving some people were willing to do in the slim chance of getting a seat.

Now I live in the inaka I don't take the trains often enough to get bothered by much, but people (usually high schoolers) eating McDonald's can be annoying. I have no problem with people eating on trains, but choose something that doesn't stink out the entire carriage.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I often rode trains in Osaka drinking a beer which was sold on the platform. In Tokyo you may get cold stares from elder taskmasters for such a thing.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

In Tokyo you may get cold stares from elder taskmasters for such a thing.

Never seen that happen once in Tokyo myself.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

 Heavily scented perfume/cologne

Yeah but the opposite can also be said. I accouter on a daily basis people with very bad body smell (mostly Japanese men). Another daily issue is the horrible bad breath smell that so many people have in this country (again more men than women, but women too when they are elder).

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Oh, two people apparently do enjoy the sight of Mr Legs Akimbo doing his thing for all to see.

Fair enough.

Could they not just stand up and do it, rather than invade my personal space, though? I'd hate to waste another cold drink by accidentally spilling it...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I can give a few more like crossing ones legs when the train is crowded. Bringing in a baby carriage on the express during rush hours. Look I am not complaining about the carriage itself but the parent should be wise enough to plan ahead and take extra time so they can make it to their destination by take the regular train. Same with people with their over sized luggage heading to an airport.

Don't be stingy, use some extra money to take the limousine bus when going abroad. If you can't afford another 3000 yen then you shouldn't be traveling abroad in the first place.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Only 15? How about using priority seat and pretending to sleep when an elderly/pregnant/handicapped person shows up?

11 ( +11 / -0 )

How about using priority seat and pretending to sleep when an elderly/pregnant/handicapped person shows up?

For sure. I do think most would vacate their seats in favor of disabled, elderly or pregnant people. At least, from what I've seen.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

What about making porno videos on the trains? I actually once saw that going on from the far end of the otherwise empty carriage on a fairly empty train.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

LOL what a list

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Tired people and their annoying posture

People get tired. From long haul travel or long hours at the office, or working the night shift.

Hardly their fault for being knackered.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

No comments about groping and sexual assault?

I agree about the backpacks, the things should not be worn on publuc transport and in crowded areas.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I've seen Japanese people here break MANY of these rules on a regular basis

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

A visiting tourist probably wouldn't know about this. Just like trying to take a selfie with Geisha in Kyoto.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"I think all rules are broken daily in Osaka. It is a completely different experience than train riding in Tokyo."

True. So true.

Here are my pet peeves.

People, mostly salarymen, rushing to get on the train before everyone has gotten off, shoving aside people getting off and shoving aside the polite people waiting for all the people to get off.

People (usually men) sticking their legs out in seats facing each other.

And, yes, punks sitting in "Disabled" seats and refusing to move when a disabled person shows up.
1 ( +2 / -1 )

@DaDude

Haha I can confirm this

In Osaka I saw a drunk guy falling down the stairs. After a few minutes he got up and zombie walked into the train

There is another thing that's needs to be on the list

People who make one step into the train and stop walking immediately, blocking the way for all the passengers behind them. Most of them are so occupied with their smartphones. They don't notice the crowd of people behind them.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A separate category from dashing onto the train, this complaint covers shouldering people trying to move in the opposite direction as you board or exit.

To be fair, if people don't wait for you to get off the train before they start pushing in, a good shouldering might be deserved. Same goes for people trying to rush past you when you're waiting in line.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well, when capacity of carriage is up to 200%, hard to avoid many of those things

Like No.10 - yeah just pass out on the platform or some other inconvenient place to avoid such being ‘rude’ on the train. Seen salarymans being kicked awake by Sotetsu-sen staff at Ebina and Isehara: 客さん、しゅてんですよ!PLUS!

Even so, can’t wait to gauge ‘rude’ness in Tokyo in the hot middle of next year.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Copping a feel

1 ( +2 / -1 )

many people feel uncomfortable sitting right next to someone who’s dusting themselves with powder or applying tints to their skin, lips, or eyelashes, since the don’t want any cosmetic product to ride a draft of air onto them.

Well that's more than a bit overly finicky, no?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I often rode trains in Osaka drinking a beer which was sold on the platform. In Tokyo you may get cold stares from elder taskmasters for such a thing.

I think it depends on the line . I remember using the Joban Line where the smell of booze and dried squid was the norm.

One absolute gent gave me a can of lager with some peanuts and rice crackers on that line.

Top lad.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Riding while sumotori during rush hour is on my list. Pulling into a station between Kyoto and Osaka on a 200% train, two sumotori we're in one of the lines, and I suddenly became religious: Please, God, don't let it be my door. But of course it was, and if anyone can shove themselves into a packed car, it's a couple of sumotori. Plus, they really smell, especially their hair, which my nose was practically buried in.

Sumotori, wait until after rush hour.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Heavily scented perfume/cologne

I swear that's even worse than tobacco breath or farting.

Getting on or off the train rudely 

Countless people have tried and failed to get on the train when I'm getting off.

Applying makeup

After they're finishing applying their makeup, it's fun to say "Mada dame yo."

Just kidding.

Eating

As long as they're not eating that stinky dried squid I don't care.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

One absolute gent gave me a can of lager with some peanuts and rice crackers on that line.

Ha! Used to get that kind of thing on the LU. Occasionally, I'll have interesting types gravitate towards me and offer me food/drink or their life story.

It's nice to be nice. I suppose it depends what mood one is in and how receptive one is to chatty people.

Maybe it's an aura kinda thing...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I think it depends on the line . I remember using the Joban Line where the smell of booze and dried squid was the norm.

It was on the Joban line too where an older guy sitting in front of me got off the train during one of those long stops and brought a cup of alcohol. I was surprised when he started drinking it and shocked when he spilled it all over me and the lady sitting next to me. From that day on, I move if someone next or in front of me starts drinking.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The Joban Line is great, particularly the trains that go out to deepest Ibaraki and Fukushima. If you can get in the ‘box seats’, you can take your shoes and socks off and rest them on the seat facing, and then have a bento to put a lining on your stomach before getting blitzed on sake out of a carton. The smell of dried squid is soon forgotten when someone opens the bog door.

Proper train. Nostalgic.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The Original Wing

"many people feel uncomfortable sitting right next to someone who’s dusting themselves with powder or applying tints to their skin, lips, or eyelashes..."

Well that's more than a bit overly finicky, no?

Nope. Not at all.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Jimizo

... you can take your shoes and socks off and rest them on the seat facing... 

There's nothing quite as disgusting as when someone takes their shoes and socks off, and puts them up on another seat, whether it's a train, a bus, or an airliner. Except maybe when it's done in a restaurant.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

There's nothing quite as disgusting as when someone takes their shoes and socks off, and puts them up on another seat, whether it's a train, a bus, or an airliner. Except maybe when it's done in a restaurant.

I can think of many things more disgusting than that but I’m certainly not recommending doing it. I was pointing it out as one of those unique, delicate Japanese manners that foreign barbarians are too uncivilized to follow. I wasn’t being...oh, forget it.

You do come across as a bit finicky, though ;)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Even if you’re talking to a face-to-face friend instead of one on the phone, most people still don’t want to be forced to hear each and every word, especially with how many people enjoy taking a nap on the train in Japan.

talking like they,re supposed to be in a bed or sofa. if you wanna enjoy your nap, go home.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Looks like I'll need to take a jar of Vick's with me when I go to Japan. I don't do well with, uh, "personal" smells, especially that particular funk of cheap cigarettes, mixed with B.O. and old perfume that wafts along with so many old ladies. A smear of Vick's under my nose works to dilute most odors, plus it makes people think I've got a cold, so they give me some space...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Apparently being a father on a train can land you in trouble with police...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

garypenSep. 3  09:27 pm JST

Jimizo

... you can take your shoes and socks off and rest them on the seat facing... 

There's nothing quite as disgusting as when someone takes their shoes and socks off, and puts them up on another seat, whether it's a train, a bus, or an airliner. Except maybe when it's done in a restaurant.

I was on a mid-morning train back from a rave in 1994 back in England when this very tall and very thin black guy in a really ill fitting suit got on and sat down in the adjacent box seat. He took his shoes and socks off and started picking bits off his toes whilst muttering something like "umbungo, umbungolino" to himself. It spun me and my mate right out!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Only 15? How about using priority seat and pretending to sleep when an elderly/pregnant/handicapped person shows up?

It appears this list is a good starting point for discussion, not a comprehensive list. Having had to ride trains frequently with a pregnant wife and young children, I would have to agree with this comment. It was rare that anyone other than the elderly, who deserve the priority seats, would ever offer their seat to my wife. It annoys me now when I see it happen to others. I try to assist, but am usually ignored by the pretenders and those around them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What really irritates me is anti-social plebs who would rather stand in the aisles and block them when there are seats available next to other passengers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thank God, I have a car, so I usually don’t take the JR, not my thing, but if I do then it’s on a special occasions

1) Never have a problem, I prefer to let others fight it out, but IF I have to sit down, it’s usually not a problem, when people see me, they just move....every time.

5) I try my best not to go too loud, but some people have very sensitive ears and can still catch the bleed coming from the ear buds, If someone says something to me, I try to be as polite as I can be, but there is so much I’m willing to compromise on Rush.

7) I think a lot of young women WANT guys to look at them doing this, for the life of me, I don’t know why that can’t wait, it is extremely annoying as heck.

8) In Fukuoka everyone uses their phone on a crowded train and if you don’t, you’re the odd one.

9) Again, I will be the last one to get on the train, I refuse to fight anyone over a stupid seat, standing doesn’t bother me at all as it should be, let the elderly, women and disabled have the seats, everyone else, man up and stand up, it’s not going to kill you.

10) Yup, been in that situation too many times to count, but I can still keep my composure

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It was on the Joban line too where an older guy sitting in front of me got off the train during one of those long stops and brought a cup of alcohol. I was surprised when he started drinking it and shocked when he spilled it all over me and the lady sitting next to me. From that day on, I move if someone next or in front of me starts drinking.

Technically, that's assault and the drunkard would be liable for damages. But you're going to spend a lot of time going through the process of filing a police report to get 3000 yen to wash your clothes at the cleaners. Would be better to threaten him with going to the police and try and get cash on the spot.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How about pushing people out of the way. Or elbowing people that you don't like. or sitting down when there's a pregnant lady trying sit down. Or old people cutting the line.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So they took a poll? And who responded? The whiniest people they ever served who would be happy to spend more time jotting down their whines on a questionnaire.

This is not a list of things not to do. Most of these are perfectly fine. What this is is a list of what whiners think...or rather think they think....or perhaps they are just saying what they can to label the most people as "problems". Well I don't give a damn what they think and neither do the people who eat, drink, put on make up, rush to the train, ride home drunk, read or use their smartphones. No a single damn whiners. Cry me a river.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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