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Japan bad train manners survey reminds us of three things to watch out for while riding the rails

16 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Good manners and an amazingly convenient public transportation network are two of Japan’s biggest claims to fame. Unfortunately, sometimes those two aspects of Japanese society don’t perfectly overlap, with breaches in train/subway etiquette making what should be a smooth ride an unpleasant journey.

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The Japan Private Railway Association conducts an annual survey on the manners of train and station users, asking respondents what behavior they find inconsiderate and aggravating. For this year’s survey, conducted through the association’s website, 8,210 responses were collected, with each participant asked to pick the three most impolite behaviors they’ve encountered, and at the top of the list was sitting impolitely, picked by 37.1 percent of respondents.

In particular, train passengers spreading their legs wide or stretching their feet out far in front of themselves were cited as impolite. Japanese trains generally have wide bench seats which are designed for a set number of passengers, sometimes even with upholstery patterns serving as visual markers of how much space each individual is supposed to take up.

Spreading your legs out wider than that, therefore, is seen as encroaching on someone else’s space, and stretching your legs out too far in front of where you’re sitting cuts into the room where passengers who weren’t lucky enough to grab a seat have to stand, as well as creating an obstacle for those trying to board or get off the carriage. Some participants also expressed annoyance at passengers who take naps while seated and then, as they’re dozing end up leaning into their bench neighbor’s personal space or using their shoulder as a pillow.

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In second place, chosen by 33.5 percent of respondents, were people who don’t cover their mouths while coughing or sneezing. This is something train passengers are increasingly aware of since the coronavirus pandemic, and also likely picked up a few extra votes by nature of the survey being conducted in October and November, when flu season is approaching and also the time of year when windows are increasingly shut on trains, which keeps the interior warm but also limits ventilation of airborne germs.

And in third place, chosen by 31.3 percent of respondents, are poor manners when boarding/exiting the train, or when others are doing so. To clarify that wide-ranging complaint, if you’re waiting on the platform for a train, good manners dictate that you should stand to the side of where the door opens and wait for any passengers to get off before you yourself board, even if that reduces your chance of snagging an empty seat once you’re onboard.

On the other side of the situation, if you’re already on a crowded train and standing near the door (often the least crowded place to stand), when the train comes to the next station, even if you’re continuing on to somewhere further down the line, you’re supposed to step out of the train to clear the door passage for anyone who is getting off there, and then reboard the train. This also connects to the rule about not standing right in front of the doors if you’re waiting on the platform, since you need to not only leave space for anyone who’s getting off and leaving the station, but also a spot for anyone to stand who’s only temporarily getting off and going to reboard.

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In general, Japanese etiquette sees being calm and non-confrontational as a virtue, so even if you happen to inadvertently commit any of these faux pas, you’re unlikely to have anyone yell at you or otherwise angrily try to correct you, especially if you look like a visitor from overseas. On the other hand, the fact that no one is going to call you out for these things makes it all the more important to be aware of them yourself and avoid them, so that everyone can enjoy the ride.

Source: Japan Private Railway Association via Norimono News via Livedoor News via Jin

Images: Pakutaso

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
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Common sense and education are, or should be a very normal thing in any country in the world, not just Japan.

However, in any other countries, there are bigger issue at hand to be made an article of.

Bad manners are sadly on the button of that list.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

If I take a train or subway I'll just dominate my way to a seat or an open space.

-16 ( +3 / -19 )

It's of course usually men who encroach on your space with open legs and I often respond by revealing how much abductor training I have done by pushing them back, but many middle-aged women seem to believe that their elbows constantly hitting your arm as they rummage in their bags is not encroaching. Do they have no feelings in their elbows? "Ataru na" usually works.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The seats on the Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok systems are scoop shaped, making it nearly impossible for someone to encroach on your space. London's tube has horizontal armrests that serve the same function.

If Japan's trains had these, instead of just long benches, most of the problems above would disappear. Although, a few cars on the Hibiya Line have such individual-type seats. Let's hope that turns into a widespread trend.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

So farting is ok?

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

If I take a train or subway I'll just dominate my way to a seat or an open space.

And here is the problem!

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Even in rural areas I witness bad train manners. Less people but I see bad manners. When I arrive the person boarding should wait 2 seconds for me to get off. Instead they approach the entrance once the train stops. I don't like having to dodge and weave all the time. Even during covid some people didn't care about social distance. Then you have the dead tired sleepers who think it is a capsule hotel. They fall and encroach the space that belongs to the space of the other passenger.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Living witness: I go through this every single weekday...I hold a bad knee (surgically speaking) and carry a medical symbol decal attached to my bag and yet the Japanese working class (mid-30s) and young generation (high schoolers and young adults) sit in priority zone areas without any consideration leaving us stranded to stand up and endure long rides, more so on express service trains. Every now and then, either an elderly person or female passenger stand to offer their seat, quite annoying, while observing men are genuinely remain uncaring. 

Japan is better than this. 

Hope for the best , prepare for the worst...just putting this out there.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I hate seeing men sitting with their legs wide apart, but then, the poor souls are trying to project their virility and masculinity, and they think they look cool......LOL!!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

The seats on the Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok systems are scoop shaped, making it nearly impossible for someone to encroach on your space. London's tube has horizontal armrests that serve the same function. 

If Japan's trains had these, instead of just long benches, most of the problems above would disappear. Although, a few cars on the Hibiya Line have such individual-type seats. Let's hope that turns into a widespread trend.

Designing the seats so only allows certain number of people to sit on the bench.

Japanese style allows either 8 sumos or 14 models to sit on the same bench.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I am not sure the issues would disappear, JeffLee, since both the leg and elbow problems commonly occur even on clearly-defined airplane seats but I cannot understand why so many vote down your comment.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japanese style allows either 8 sumos or 14 models to sit on the same bench.

Not really. Take a look at the photo above. Notice the vertical bars? Those are hard barriers that ensure that even if the seat beside you is empty, you'll be squeezed in if you're sumo sized.

In my subway cars, its 7 people per bench 99 percent of the time during the busy periods. So may as well ditch the benches and replace them with individual seats.

@Moonraker

I am not sure the issues would disappear, 

I suggest you take a ride on one of the radical new Hibiya Line cars if you get the chance. A world of difference in terms of personal space protection and thus comfort.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What's been trying on my goat lately is the rudeness of Chinese tourists, they area disgrace. Dashing into the train before people have gone out the doors. Putting their phones on speaker and doing video calls, shouting their heads off.

No manners, no respect at all.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I could not get behind the incessant, unapologetic pushing from passengers to get on the train in Japan's big cities like Tokyo and Osaka. It's infuriating and rather baffling considering there are so many trains in service, with one coming every 2~3 minutes or so. Not to mention what a fire and safety hazard it is - if a fire ever broke out on one of their overly packed trains, they'd be hard pressed to evacuate it without casualties and a stampede.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ah im also dreading for fluffy and feathery winter coats and jackets... its hard to notice you are occupying a larger space of brushing against your neighbor... i hate this so i take off mine inside the train

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If Japan's trains had these, instead of just long benches...

And how much travel have you done in Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok systems, example the Singapore MRT seats are literally hard plastic benches, when it comes to metro I will take the Japan metro anytime..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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