A lot of the etiquette guidelines for riding trains in Japan are pretty well-known. The most famous is that the specially marked seats at the corner of the carriages are priority seats for elderly, disabled, or pregnant passengers. You’re asked to refrain from talking on your mobile phone, since Japan likes quiet, and while you can get away with bite-sized snacks or maybe a rice ball, eating anything larger than that on a commuter train is generally frowned upon.
But there’s another bit of train etiquette that the particularly polite follow, but which often gets forgotten. Imagine that you step onto a train, but all the seats are taken. If you’re going to have to stand, the place to do it is at the end of the bench seat, next to the door.
There’s a bit of empty space between the edge of the door and the start of the seats, and if you can stake out that position, you can secure a bit more personal space since the area directly in front of the door is usually the last part of the train to fill up. Being next to the door also makes it easy to get off the train when your arrive at your stop.
This is also generally the most comfortable spot to stand on the train, since you can lean against the interior wall to take some of the wight off the soles of your feet. However, sometimes people also lean their backs against the crossbar at the edge of the bench.
This becomes a problem if the person standing there is wearing a backpack or other bag slung backwards over their shoulder. As shown in these illustrations from Japanese Twitter user @ukai, basic biomechanics mean that if you’re resting your back or butt on the outside edge of the bench frame, you’re going to smack the person sitting there in the head with your bag.
“I keep getting terrorized by this when I sit at the edge of the bench (people just don’t understand),” tweeted @ukai. But while the people who keep hitting him man not understand his plight, plenty of other Twitter users do, with tens of thousands of sympathetic train and subway passengers retweeting and liking the two-panel slice of unpleasant life riding the rails.
It’s also worth pointing out that this isn’t something to be aware of only if you’re carrying a bag. If you’ve got particularly long hair, or a jacket with a sizeable hood, those can also end up draping down on the person sitting at the edge of the bench, so if you’re going to plant your feet at the prime standing spot next to the door, make sure to check your six and make sure you and your belongings aren’t spilling over the edge.
Source: Twitter/@ukai via IT Media
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