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Is chivalry dead on Tokyo trains?

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By Jessica Korteman

Often people comment on the civility of Japanese train stations: people queuing on the platform in two lines before splitting down the middle into single file when the train arrives to allow room for those disembarking. The platform is marked to indicate precisely where the doors will open on a three or four door train so that passengers can assemble accordingly prior to boarding. I agree. It is a change from scenes in many of the world’s metropolises.

But it is here that my awe of civility ends. Once on the train, something takes over the minds of Tokyoites, possessing them with a “survival of the fittest” mentality, a competitive instinct perhaps born of a need to remain afloat in a city of millions. As soon as the doors open, these lines that have been created in such an orderly fashion cease to have meaning. Passengers begin the mad rush, pushing and scurrying for any available seat, or if you miss out, the preferred area by the door or end of the carriage where you can lean against the railing.

The sheer amount of people on Tokyo’s rail network is expected and unavoidable. I have often thought that this problem of overcrowding could be solved by having more trains, but then I quickly recall how often the trains come already (every few minutes) and think that probably the network is at full capacity, and trying to run more trains would be a safety nightmare.

It is not the number of people that is surprising but the behavior of those on board. It’s first come, first served. And never mind who you bowl over in the process: an old lady, a mother with a small child.

Once I was traveling back home after a long day at work with some heavy bags. A seat became available directly in front of me. From what I have observed of train behavior thus far, my fortunate location means that I get first dibs on the seat. However, I first scoured the carriage to see if there was anyone who might need the seat more than me but could only see young businessmen. Deciding it was safe to take a seat, I turned to sit down. Within that split second, a man had decided he wanted the seat, slid in behind me and sat down. I almost ended up sitting on him! My first thought was, “How rude!” And secondly, “You’re a man and you think it is appropriate to literally steal a seat from under a woman?!”

It was at this moment that I realized the role gender plays in my perceptions of train etiquette. If this had been a woman, would I have had the same reaction? Probably not. I would have thought it was rude but I would not have responded in gender terms.

Is this sexist on my part? Maybe. Old-fashioned? Probably. But part of me believes that men behaving chivalrously towards women is the proper order of things. Men, technically the stronger of the species, should do the “manly” thing and stand. Are women weaker? At least, do we want to be considered weaker? Probably not. We have been fighting for so long to gain equal rights (which arguably have not yet been fully achieved), to say we can do things just as well as men. And, indeed, I support equality, not only on gender grounds. But in terms of physicality, yes, men are stronger. That’s why women’s tennis matches are limited to three sets, and why men and women don’t compete against each other in the Olympics. It would be considered an unfair advantage for men if that were to be the case, hence the uproar over the recent hermaphrodite revelations.

One night when I relayed the seat-stealing experience to my husband, he said, “I agree, that was rude but…” he questioned, “…do you think men should get up for women all of the time?” “Well, no,” I said. “If it is an elderly man or someone who is unwell, injured, or carrying a small child for example, then of course, I don’t expect them to. In fact, I would insist they sit down before me. But if they are young enough and fully-abled, then I think they should. Maybe they don’t have to get up all of the time, but I think they should at least offer their seat”.

Part of me agrees with my husband’s reasoning. He does have a point. If men and women are truly equal as we have fought so hard for, then men should have the same right to sit as women. But I still find myself continually aggravated as I see yet another person obviously in need of a seat when men who could easily stand don’t budge. They can look these people in the eye but have no conscience to even offer their seat? I stand in frustration as men sit while a heavily pregnant woman stands and an old lady struggles to stay upright as the train sways from side to side, barely able to reach the hand rail. Don’t they care? What if that was their heavily pregnant wife or their elderly mother? Would they think differently? When they get old, wouldn’t they want someone to stand for them?

So it is in this frustration, I ask somewhat of a controversial question: Is chivalry dead in Tokyo? Well…maybe not dead with no hope of revival. I have to admit I have seen some wonderful acts of generosity and kindness, all be they few and far between. But perhaps Tokyo’s chivalry is suffering some kind of long-term illness awaiting a cure. Perhaps too, we cannot limit this issue only to Tokyo, but a trend plaguing many of our world’s cities. What will it take for things to change? Well, that depends. We only put effort into finding cures when we think there is a need for one.

© Japan Today

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130 Comments
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If I could sum up the average salaryman/salarybabe in one word it would be - desperation. Desperate to get to work on time, desperate to save money in any means possible, desperate to please their superiors, desperate for affection/attention, desperate for a seat on the train. When I ride a train these days I dont even worry about sitting down. 20 minutes on my feet is no biggie and I dont even care if there are empty seats. For me, sitting is a sign of weakness - much like standing still on an elevator. The desperadoes dont understand the big picture of life. Peace to them, enjoy the seat and please stand if a disabled, elderly or crippled person limps onto the carriage.

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You’re a man and you think it is appropriate to literally steal a seat from under a woman?

Chivalry is dead because of equal rights, I've seen people complain about being offered a seat, "do you think you're better than me", "you don't think I can't stand up"... I think the only time you should give up your seat is for over 65's, injured people or pregnant woman... what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

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Yawn...how is this news? Allow me to predict the next fascinating article here "Japan's sky is blue...and has been for a long time." I mean, really. Anyone who has been here over a week has surely noted this phenomenon.

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I agree that both men and women on the train need to be more considerate of their fellow passengers. I don't know how many times I have had to stand up for over 30 minutes holding my sleeping daughter while other able bodied passengers sit right in front of me reading manga using their cell phones or pretending to be asleep. On countless occasions I have witnessed people unwilling to move over one seat to allow elderly friends sit together, instead these seniors usually negotiate over several stations who should get to sit down. Is this really necessary?

It seems to me that only taking a couple of seconds to assess your surroundings would make train travel much more amiable for everyone.

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I am the only person In Kansai I have ever seen give up a seat for a person in need such as the elderly. If I am with my child and my child is asleep on me I go to the priority seat, choose the strongest looking person there, wave in their face, and tell them in English "GET OFF" to which they run out of the cabin.

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Yawn indeed. Here's an idea for your next article: young people play too many video games these days.

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One day when I caught a connecting line from Kichijouji to Shinjuku, I noticed an older lady dressed in a lovely kimono get on (not elderly, but certainly older than most in the train car). I stood up and offered my seat with the typical すみません。。。どうぞすわってください and was surprised to see her decline it! It was only after I added よろしかったら。。。that she gracefully accepted with a smile. Not one lazy salaryman / OL / school kid / rich, complacent housewife offered! I'm not particularly old, but I found it rather sad to see the degradation of manners as well. I'm with Dentshop on this, personally I'd just rather stand.

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Has there ever been chivalry in Japan? I think that's a pretty western concept. I never expect chivalry, but a little bit of common courtesy would be nice. Not letting a door slam in my face, for example. Or not running me off the sidewalk because you and your five friends need to walk side by side. I'm all for equality. I'll hold the door open for you too and give you some space on the sidewalk. But no Japanese dude could ever be bothered to do the same for me. It just isn't the culture here.

Personally, train-wise, I get pretty woozy after 20 minutes of standing due to low bp, and I've been crouched on the floor with my head between my knees and no one offers me a seat. So while I used to give up my seat (despite the bp) in the past, I've decided that my consciousness is far more important, and I will fight those pushy salarymen and old ladies to the death to get an empty seat. I try to avoid priority seats due to appearing "young and healthy," but if I need it, I need it. And if one of these Internet Heroes snapped their fingers in my face or told me to get up, they would get an earful. You can't always assume that someone young is automatically "healthy."

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Thank you, Shaolin7 and Dentshop.

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"how is this news?" umm, perhaps maybe you missed that word at the top that says "commentary"

i usually don't sit when i ride on the train, here or in japan. one reason is that it's quite amusing to watch the mad rush of people trying to grab any seat that they can. here in ny, i've seen even the toughest, meanest looking dudes will move out of the way of an open subway door, say excuse me, sorry and thank you as well as give up their seats for those who need it. in japan? i've seen young people in japan trying to imitate that gangster attitude and look. they think they're all that, but maybe you should send them all here and see how long they last on the streets here.

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I saw a blind girl on the loop line in Osaka patting down the back rest of chair so she could find the seat and old dirty Kyotei type man came and sat in the seat. It was VERY obvious she was blind. I got up to yell at him and another lady quickly grabbed her and sat the blind girl next to her because she could see me charging towards the old man. Chivalry has been dead for ages but rude is still fudging rude!

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queensNY: yeah I saw some dudes at the station practicing their "crip walk" on the platform. They looked exactly like some SA's. Flannel, dickies, the whole west coast look. I thought they were Spanish so I asked them in Spanish if they knew they were imitating a gang and they looked at me like a dog looks at an answering machine I then told them in Japanese and they gave me that typical "EHHHHH??"

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I think it's just plain common courtesy and respect although maybe it's not so 'common' anymore.

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Ride around in Nagoya, then go back to Tokyo. You'll find that chivalry is comparatively robust in Tokyo. As far as Tokyo's sheer commuter mass, "no ginger", but I've been pushed aside in Nagoya even with a baby.

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if you gave up a seat for an elderly, child, etc when you had the chance you would never sit down on a train in tokyo, i mean my god, 1/2 the population is over 65 tokyo is just too crowded, everyone is just trying to give themselves a break

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I don't know, it would be nice in an ideal world and all that, but here is every man/woman for him/herself. There's the occasional politeness that we receive and give, and what I don't like about it, even though it is a positive reaction, is to think about it as a wonderful/joyful miracle when in reality it isn't; it should be second-nature in fact. It's not worth it to be upset about it either. Some people get so irritated when it's a rainy day for example, it's unbelievable, some get irrational. Proceed with caution.

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@bobbafett

Nice tactics, but be careful...there are people out there with heart problems who look pretty healthy from the outside, but can't stand unaided for more than a few minutes. Being yelled at by a foreigner while sitting in their designated safe zone might just be enough to finish somebody off. Some cities have special badges that people can wear, saying something like "I look healthy, but...". But they're not everywhere yet.

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are rhetorical questions even necessary?

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I&m a man, I never give my seat to gum chewing 20's or something girls typing things on her cell phone but (perhaps letting her stand will fill her head with something more than air to pop her gum)...

Usually I'm the only guy in the train offering my seat to pregnant ladies (and usually they accept, except when they are sick from sitting)

I'm the only guy even noticing there is a pregnant lady (as all others are too busy reading porn on their cell phones and kiddie manga).

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Tokyo is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, easily ranked in the top 5 so you have to have modest expectations. Admittedly, I'm old school traditional so I rather stand and give up my seat for females even though I always argue that females want equality and more. As the old saying goes, "give them an inch and they will take a mile".

All I can say is, if the same degree of density existed in other cities, especially those in Western nations, well, I shiver at the thought of the chaos that would occur on a daily basis.

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people queuing on the platform in two lines before splitting down the middle into single file

How do two lines split into a single line?

On topic, I always give my seat to obviously pregnant women and older women but I have found that some older men are proud of the fact that they can stand rather than have to sit. For those men I watch to see if they're looking for a seat or not before catching their eye to silently offer them my seat. It's all about saving face for them.

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I am heavily heavily...heavily (!) pregnant now, and not once have I ever had to beg for a seat.

There was one time when no-one could tell I was pregnant, I was very very sick, it was a hot day and I fainted in the carriage. When I came to about 20 people around me were standing up and someone had hauled me legnthways onto the now completely empty seats while someone fanned me.

Don`t know why people are so kind to me - maybe I have a menacing face and they are scared of me??! But I have never really had a problem with chivalry on trains - chikans are another matter!

But that is where it ends - doors flung in my face, salarymen kicking my stroller out of their way, and in particular queue-jumping right in front of me (mostly old ladies assuming I won`t say anything - BIG mistake!), JHS kids walking 5 abreast on the pavement so I have to step into traffic...etc etc

I think the train etiquette in Tokyo is pretty good actually, compared to London, but politeness in general is sadly lacking.

My husband tells me they don`t have a culture here of holding the door because they are used to the sliding screen doors culturally - I laughed and told him that was the best excuse for plain lack of common sense and selfishness I have ever heard!

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I think it's a lot easier to enjoy this country by avoiding use of rush-hour transport in major cities.

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I will always give up my seat for someone less physically able than me. But this woman is saying I should consider giving up my seat for someone just cos they are a woman? OK I will do that, just so long as all the women in my office get paid 30% less than me for doing the same job and whomever i choose to marry has breakfast, dinner and sex on a plate for me every day, just like the good old '50s.

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Wouldn't "dead" would imply that chivalry was at some point alive?

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kirakira brings up a good point: when you've got a young, slim lady standing in front of you, you have no idea whether or not she's in an interesting condition and about to faint on you. So by offering your seat to a pretty young thing, you might be giving your seat to 'someone less physically able' than yourself. 'Obviously pregnant' ladies are probably exhausted simply from carrying The Bump before them, but their hormones are more settled and they're much less likely to faint.

Older ladies, obviously well past the possibility of being pregnant? Could be your old mum. You'd give her your seat, surely? And your old dad too, with borscht's caveat.

And I think that applies to those of us who are non-pregnant females, as well as males.

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Osaka must be a thousand times worse.Visibly pregnant women with the 'I am pregnant' badges on their bags have to stand in the priority seats area made for them.When my wife was preggers this happened and I let out a big 'wow,all these people must be pregnant!' and that just made my wife angry with me and the people sitting in front didn't even register.Like I have said before, from opening doors for people (Japanese seem to think you are employed to do so and rarely say thanks) or having an open door shut as you walk in, to train manners, or talking about English or Gaijin as soon as a foreigner is within spitting distance on a train, to people obviously talking about you to their friend and having a giggle..the Japanese have a small village mentality at best and the politeness usually only comes out in situations when it is demanded culturally.It is often a false politeness.There are plenty of super people here who 'get it' though.I showed my newborn to a lady down the road and whizzzz out came the camera and 2 hours later she was at my doorstep with a developed photo of me and my baby.

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It's every man for himself on the morning train. I'm polite by default but I've had to PWN a few oyajis and rude old ladies who stepped out of line.

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Wow - must have had a hard time trying to think about what to write. Had the author listed continual events like this happening I'd understand the motive behind writing it. The fact seems to be having been just pipped to a seat one evening whilst carrying some heavy shopping. Does that warrant an article?

I'm glad that the use of the gender "card" was questioned, as I often witness many occasions of women (young and old) contorting themselves to slide in behind someone who is about to stand up so that they can get that seat - no more and no less than men doing the same. I have even stood up for a pregnant lady only to have a young girl nip in to the seat I vacated - when I coughed and pointed to the oversized belly she stood up immediately and apologised. I have even see a pregnant woman interrupt two other ladies talking (they were on the "sliver seat") and ask if she can sit there as she didn;t feel strong enough to stand.

There is nothing terribly wrong with peoples manners in general, but there are always incidents that catch our mind, and it is down to us if we CHOOSE to let them get under our skin. With so many people in such a small area, I'm truly surprised that there isn't warfare each morning on the commute to the office!!

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I agree with Osakadaz that the politeness usually only comes out when it is demanded culturally.

I think, considering the immense numbers of people using the Tokyo train system it's a miracle it works so well. As a Brit I will always offer my seat to the elderly, the infirm or pregnant women in the same way that I wouldn't cough or sneeze in other people's faces - I was taught manners at school and at home. In 6 years here I haven't seen many acts of kindness on the trains though I've seen hundreds, if not thousands, of acts of casual unkindness. Politeness goes straight out the window basically. Maybe I'm wrong but the Japanese seem to have a blinkered way of shutting out everything and focussing on whatever it is in front of their eyes; a friend, manga, the cellphone. Everything else is irrelevant. A person could be dying 3 meters away and providing they're not dying noisily then the Japanese will ignore it; it simply doesn't exist for them. The Japanese can also also be rather spatially naive; so many times do people walk or cycle straight into me. And the number of road deaths in Japan is spectacularly high.

A plus point is the population in Japan is falling slightly so it might eventually mean Tokyo loses people. One thing the government could do is increase regional grants and tax breaks in other areas to persuade companies to move offices away from Tokyo; it would make an awful lot of sense in terms of population density, the ability of public services to cope, and especially if a major earthquake were to hit the capital.

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Civalry isn't something I have seen in Japan much at all. Not only on trains, but just simple behaviors guys here seem to be self centered and many of the penguin dressed types seem to be mindless ravening zombies after work. I've seen the elder left standing, pregnant women smashed by daft suit wearing morons and had to rescue three of four small girls from suffocation on various lines over the years. All while clueless and perhaps mindless salarymen ignored all concepts of civil behavior. Civarly is not dead on trains here. It was never born.

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As far as I can tell, Japanese society places no value on "the weak". Once that assumption is in place everything we see on the trains makes sense....but it still sucks.

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I think it's a lot easier to enjoy this country by avoiding use of rush-hour transport in major cities

Beelzebub, great head in the sand theory. In a country where mass transport is the only way to go for the average citizen, you'd recommend taking a taxi at 10 times the price of a train ticket?

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A male, especially gaijin, giving up his seat to any healthy looking woman is considered a blatant come-on. I've never done it, but I've chuckled to myself as other gaijin men, probably tourists, have tried to do this. Some of them were attempting to strike up conversations.

Japanese women are equally ill-mannered on trains. They push and shove, take up too much room, throw themselves through the closing doors. I always laugh at the ones who are convinced that every male within a one metre radius is trying to "chikan" them. The slightest contact, and they jump around with a look of horror. They're usually not that hot. Just 20 year old with bad attitudes.

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I think it's a lot easier to enjoy this country by avoiding use of rush-hour transport in major cities

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Beelzebub, great head in the sand theory. In a country where mass transport is the only way to go for the average citizen, you'd recommend taking a taxi at 10 times the price of a train ticket?

I think s/he's suggesting that life is easier/more pleasant outside the major cities. S/he is absolutely correct.

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This is good, thought provoking commentary. The only point that I think the article fails to notice, is that chivalry is not dying, IT NEVER EXISTED in Japan. Something that was never there. For centuries. Japanese men are finally caving to Western pressure to treat their women like equals, but think about it, how many children are taught to treat women equally at home and in the classroom, and by sheer example of adults? Because there is no tradition of chivalry, it doesnt exist now.

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complaining of the lack of chivalry is a kind of reverse sexual discrimination. what she should be complaining about is the lack of common courtesy.

also, i've offered my seat to older women and have not infrequently been refused but what irks me more is when these older women give the seat their perfectly healthy grandchildren!

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I love the crowded trains, especially when people cough on me.

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after all the zillion posts on this site from women demanding to be treated equal... it is nice to see one admit that they are the weaker sex on the average. I will not hold my breath waiting for an admission of emotional limitation however ; )

my rule is to never give a seat to a high school girl but if she seems eager I will strike up a conversation. I give my seat to attractive 20 somethings to nanpa them. I give my seat up to 30 something and older women and elderly men because it seems the right thing to do in my old fashioned mind. having a grandma give the seat you offered to her grandkids is just fine. if that is her joy, it is mine to share in as well. and yes, osaka has a monopoly on rudeness in just about any area one can imagine.

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I love the one where two scruffy-suited twotts sit in the middle of two seats each, and thus block off four seats between the two of them. The typical pusillanimous local will stand helplessly in front of them as though there is nothing to be done about it, like it's some kind of bad weather condition.

Then some stout-hearted anglo-saxon who paid just as much for his ticket as they did will gently but firmly ask them to move up a little, and they look around in confusion like he's asked them to levitate. But of course, we Japanese show consideration to those around us (when there is no easy alternative) so they eventually shuffle over a couple of inches.

And that's when I start farting. Quid pro quo, Clarisse...

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As others have pointed out, chivalry on Tokyo trains isn't dead - it has never existed.

I own a fascinating book called "Japan, Aspects and Destinies" written by an English gentleman named W. Petrie Watson which is 105 years old - having been published in 1904.

Among the many wonderful observations made by Watson about a Meiji-Period Japan in mid-transition from feudal society to western facade is the following:

“Enter a second-class car on a Japanese railway after night has fallen and you find the Japanese race unmasked. From a race of pleasant, polite, depreciating folk they are changed to unmitigated boors.”

Amazing how nothing really changes, eh?

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Civility and manners are only skin deep, everyone is basically territorial. The rudest people in Japan tend to be the seniors who often appear to have no manners at all. The younger generations here are generally well mannered and quite civilised.

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Pain is a good teacher. We take the train to events sometimes and have a couple big cases on carts. They fit nicely into a corner and for sensible passengers we never cause anyone any problems. We are careful and polite to assure we don't bother anyone. And taking the train makes good sense environmentally.

The problem is the twits who block nearly empty trains by standing in the doorway and refusing to move to let people on. Even when they see you are trying to get a big bag on the train. Same goes for getting off. People crowd around the door and won't let you off.

So we have resorted to pain therapy as a means of spacial awareness and train manners training for such people. We first ask them to move with a polite "Sumimasen" When this fails a more persistent "SUMIMASEN" followed by using the cart as a battering ram with no regard at all for shins, feet or legs. This usually results in substantial impact to said obstructions and in more than one case left them in obvious discomfort.

Maybe a little more pain induced to such ill mannered people will teach them to pay attention and have some manners.

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When trains have segregated carriages, chikan squads and retired people acting as "etiquette police", the contributor seems naive to think the concept of chivalry ever existed in Japan.

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The only point that I think the article fails to notice, is that chivalry >is not dying, IT NEVER EXISTED in Japan. Something that was never there. >For centuries. Japanese men are finally caving to Western pressure to >treat their women like equals

Do you want them to treat them chivalrously or as equals? Which is it?

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You mean your gaikokujin bubble didn't work? Wow...I'm kind of surprised. I guess a lot can change in a couple years. Whenever I got on trains in Tokyo I usually got the spot where you can lean against the rail because of the bubble. Though...the one time I really need a seat I couldn't get one. I was about ready to collapse because I'd already been standing for 6 hours without food or water before getting on the train. It wasn't until almost the end of my ride that I finally found a seat and I was probably very visibly in pain.

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The younger generations here are generally well mannered and quite civilised

I have to agree with this. In the park yesterday some totally out of control JHS kids were causing mayhem near us. I was freaking out because they nearly fell on me a few times and I have already been whacked in the stomach once with a soccer ball in this pregnancy and had to go to hospital - again, JHS students.

But as soon as my friend asked them to be a bit more careful and considerate, both of me and the fact that there were lots of little tiny kids around, they apologised and calmed down.

I find the old obaasan are the worst! Stressed out salarymen come a close second, and I`m sorry to say my own husband takes the bronze!

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The author of this piece has no leg to stand on. GET IT???

Lady, you cant have it both ways. Either be equal, or dont. Pick.

Personally, I choose chivalry. Thats how I was raised. But, Ive also been subjected to a generation of women who just dont care for that. Funny how they might cry "chivalry is dead!" once subjected to men from a culture that hasnt had it for centuries.

Try reading BUSHIDO by Inazo Nitobe. Its got its share of some self-hatred and Anglo-worship, but its main premise is sound. The character of the Japanese male has declined over the centuries.

Now, having known many great Japanese guys (who lived abroad), I've come to see what Japanese people will be the first to tell you. "Japanese people who live abroad are NOT the same as those who live here." I'll go one step farther to say: "Japanese people who live abroad OR LIVED ABROAD are NOT the same as those who live here."

Its not the Japanese male... its the culture and its acceptance of "might equals right". Those with a more global perspective understand. Problem is that too many people here are happy never understanding the world outside this tiny island. Then again... they arent the only people we can say that about eh?

Bottom line is... men physically coercing women is wrong. BUT, a woman who preaches equality should be prepared to fight for herself, WITHOUT protection of men.

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On a more personal note, I am always bemused by the fact that, although being a fairly-respectable, besuited, middle-aged English businessman, I can nearly always expect the myriad Japanese passengers on any train in which I travel to categorically avoid the empty seat next to me - no matter how painfully crowded the train may be.

However, despite my constantly being treated like a plague-carrying social pariah by my Japanese peers, it is invariably only I who, time after time, gets up and offers my seat to their elderly, disabled or heavily-pregnant citizens.

Indeed, whenever a 99 year old Nihonjin gentleman who can barely stand stumbles onto my carriage, I always appear to be the only passenger who does not instantly fall into an obviously fake coma (some of these people should get an Oscar!) or who suddenly finds their book/mobile/PSP/iPod so totally engrossing that they cannot even bring themselves to raise their eyes and risk acknowledging the old chap and his alarming state of infirmity (especially if they happen to be occupying one of the -ha ha - "courtesy" seats).

Do you think that it is my uncivilized, uncouth and barbaric gaijin concept of politeness which sometimes causes Japanese commuters to avoid sitting near me?

Perhaps they feel that, if an extremely elderly couple board the train together, anyone sitting next to me will be humiliated and forced to give up their own seat to the husband if I have the scandalously inappropriate and alien manners to get up for the wife?

I can assure them that this is definitely NOT the case - I fully appreciate that perusing the latest issue of "Big-Breasted Manga Maids in Bondage" is obviously far more pressing than giving up a seat to someone who desperately needs one!

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To the author,

I'm surprised your husband actually asked that. Of course, every (healthy) man should give up his seat to women/kids/elderly ALL the time in a full train or wherever. This universally decent thing to do is not "reverse sexual discrimination" as some bloke here said. In any society where most people are aware of what's going on around and there's some common morality, this giving up your seat action is the norm.

All around the world selfishness is taking over, and men aren't men anymore, particularly in big cities. Definitely not "progress."

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We have been fighting for so long to gain equal rights (which arguably have not yet been fully achieved), to say we can do things just as well as men. And, indeed, I support equality

Jessica, remember in the west men and women are EQUAL, so do not come to Japan complaining you are treated equal and forced to stand on a train, Japanese know western females are equal to western males so will treat you the same way they treat a western male.

I will give up my seat to the Japanese mothers carrying babies, pregnant Japanese ladies, elderly Japanese ladies even though I have a disability and need to walk with the help of two crutches. I will not give up my seat to any students, gaikokujin male or female(with child, pregnant or whatever) or Japanese males.

It really annoys me to see western females always wanting to be treated equal and when something does not go the way they want complain they are the weaker sex and need special treatment!

Want to be treated like a lady and have men open doors, give up seats, walk closest to the road etc, then accept you are not equal to a male, but if you want to be equal to a male then do not complain if you slap a male and he turns and gives you a knuckle sandwich, remember you are equal and he would have given any male that slapped him a knuckle sandwich also!

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Is this article about chivalry or common politeness and consideration? It seems to be suggesting that only men should get up for pregnant women/the elderly/etc - but surely able-bodied women are equally obliged?

Right now I gratefully accept the seats I am offered, but when I am once more able-bodied, fit and alone (without the kids) on a train, I would no more expect the man sitting next to me to stand up "because he is a man" than I would expect to get up myself and offer my seat to the next pregnant/elderly woman or infirm man in front of me.

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newjapanese. "I will not give up my seat to any students, gaikokujin male or female(with child, pregnant or whatever) or Japanese males."

While I understand some of those you will not give up seats for, others sound like over racism. Why give up a seat for a pregnant or with child Japanese and not a foreigner? Sounds like a racial distinction to me and that my friend is very wrong.

Look, I know I am an alien in Japan, I have the card with it printed clearly to prove it. And I don't expect to be treated equally in a place that has no grasp of words like "international" or "diversity".

But I really hate it when people here mask over racism as something else. when in fact these distinctions are nothing more than medieval xenophobia, isolationism and racism. And don't even get me started on sexism in Japan.

Chivaly? Non existent in the past, now and very likely in the future.

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In retrospect, after some wise comments regarding no pre-existing relevance regarding the concept of "chivalry" in Japanese culture, I need to soften my stance. It isn't necessarily the degradation of manners, but I will say this is something small and positive that could be introduced from immigration. I don't know how willing or amenable to this the native Japanese would be, but it would be nice to see more often. Unlike others here, I never encountered seniors with that sense of entitlement. The elder Japanese I met were gracious and polite (to my face ; )).

Incidentally, have any of you ever been on the trains in Korea? If an older person boards and you haven't offered your seat, they either kick your shins and cuckold you or sit on your lap until you do. Clearly, they have no problem being direct there! Even my Korean (Canadian) friends were scared, it was rather funny.

I had to laugh a bit at Altria's response, too.

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Cleo, nowhere in Beelzebub's comment did s/he mention the merits of living in the city as opposed to the country. Nor is that even the point of the discussion.

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has anyone else ever been sat down, and then a woman comes and stands in front of you and you cant tell if they are pregnant or just a bit fat, and you worry that if you give up your seat they will be offended, but if you dont give up your seat, you may be denying a pregnant woman a seat? Its happened to me a few times. I usually just get up and walk away, head down, then no-one loses face - japan style.

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has anyone else ever been sat down, and then a woman comes and stands in front of you and you cant tell if they are pregnant or just a bit fat

They have little badges that pregnant women wear so they don't have to tell you. I gave up my seat once for a women I didn't think was pregnant until I saw the badge. I think I didn't notice several stops though...

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must be a slow news day as they truck out this old question again!

It's not dead but there is virtually no pulse - we all know that. It saddens me when you see old ladies giving up their seats for old men when there is a young punk there pretending to be asleep.

I gave up me seat in the middle of a carriage last week when I noticed the "I'm pregnant badge" - I think she went into shock! She did not show so I could only but assume the badge was legitimate.

But there was this one occasion when I was getting off the subway in shibuya when I was barely to my feet a little old nun came flying out of nowhere and was sitting in my seat! If I had decided it was the wrong stop and sat back down I would not have noticed until I had squashed her!!!!

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The point I am making is that there is good and bad in every country, but to not offer up seats to a certain "category" shall we say of people because of a previous bad experience is pretty despicable IMHO.

I have had some wonderful and some not-so-wonderful experiences in Japan, but I would never dream of taking out some of my frustrations on the many Japanese I meet when I go home. It is not their fault!

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Dear Jessica Korteman

Thank you for presenting your observations, that I share and experience each day.

It is, though, a mistake to judge our observation based on the western concept of chivalry; instead the Japanese concept of "いえ" needs to be applied to understand. The Japanese separate their environment into 中"naka", 外"soto" and the fast majority of 他人"tanin".

For the people belonging to the circle of "naka" (simplified the family members and close relatives), the concept of 甘え"amae" is defining the correct behavior. For the people belonging to 外"soto" (friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc.) the concept of 義理 "giri" defines the correct behavior and this is what we usually experience as the restraint (遠慮と察し"enryo to sasshi"), courteous, often overly friendly behavior when we interact with people we know.

On the other hand are the fast majority of people one has no relations to, the 他人"tanin". These people are treaded as if none existent and this is the behavior that you so nicely described.

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"Was there ever chivalry in Japan in the first place?"

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Back in the late 1960's and early 1970's, I experienced riding japanese trains during my high school years. Perhaps not so much then, but even more so now, I saw that even the demure elderly japanese woman would push to get ahead to get on a train. I often did give up my seat when the opportunity arose. However, I was amazed at how japanese, were much like sheep in terms of behavior looking to ride on the middle most cars relative to the train platform. I often found that merely by walking a little farther toward the end cars be it front or back, that there generally was available seats if not more room to stand in. I also recall riding somewhat dangerously in the sections connecting cars. Occasionally, I paid the extra differential to ride in the first class cars. Being young high school kids, we also chanced in riding first class while only having a standard coach ticket. If caught, we then coughed up the differential. Others would hide in the restroom until the conductor passed through. Overall, I would say that japanese are still polite. But the younger generations today are probably no different than foreigners who lack respect for the elders unlike what I was taught by my parents.

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Heck, no! I ride Tokyo trains!

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For years here I was amazed at how the Japanese can go to sleep on the train and wake up exactly at their station. Years later I realised they were only pretending to be asleep. Duh, silly me.

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I've lived here well over five years, and can count on one hand the number of times I saw a J-guy give up his seat. But, I probably do it onec or twice a month, at least. My motivation is simply to make J-women, particularly the older ones, realize that all foreigners are not "bad", and, actually, compared to their own clods, are more often than not, quite considerate.

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How can chivalry die the same week President Obama bowed to the emperor?

Come on, people!

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Tokyoites on trains are nothing compared to the Kansai Obachans. . . they are the worst seat hoarders in the whole world. It takes one obachan to take up 3 seats (Along with shopping bags, umbrellas etc.)

And they pretend to be asleep when the old/pregnant/seatneedy get on so they dont have to give it up.

grrrrr

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Beelzebub at 08:43 AM JST - 16th November

I think it's a lot easier to enjoy this country by avoiding use of rush-hour transport in major cities.

Or avoiding going to places where the natives will be out in full force, like temples at new year's, anything to do with shopping, anywhere with cherry blossoms/koyo. Avoiding the trains is only one way to have a better quality of life in Japan.

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Often people comment on the civility of Japanese train stations

Cobblers! I've never heard such an outrageous suggestion!

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I've only been here for 4 years so I can't comment on what it was like 5 years ago but did manners and chivalry ever exist on trains in this country? I've travelled all over Japan and lived in Osaka for awhile(now live in Tokyo) and I have rarely seen courtesy practiced on a train before.

As far as letting little old ladies get to a seat first I'm thinking they're as rude and pushy as they seem because of the lack of courtesy on trains by those who pretend not to see someone in need of the seat either because they are "sleeping", reading, or just simply don't care.

Having said that I'll be the first to say that if you elbow, punch, smack, push, kick, hip check, body slam me out of the way to get to that elusive seat I'll return the favour in kind. When in...do as... as they say.

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Beelzebub, great head in the sand theory. In a country where mass transport is the only way to go for the average citizen, you'd recommend taking a taxi at 10 times the price of a train ticket?

Hoserfella, it is not my intention to give advice to Japanese. I was referring to how non-citizens should deal with it. Have you ever heard of "flex-time"? Or living within cycling distance of one's place of work?

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Ive heard of all these wonderful ideas, Beelzebub. But please join me in the real world where the vast majority of Tokyoites have neither and therefore have to take trains.

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The title of this article poses a weird question. Is chivalry dead on Tokyo trains? It asks. Chivalry is not part of Japanese culture in the first place. Chivalry is a Western concept. All the manners and deferences associated with chivalry are foreign to Japan and are not taught to children by their mothers simply because Japan has a different set of manners and what is considered polite in the West does not match what is considered polite in Japan. Simple things like, allowing the elderly to go to the front of a line, for example; leaving one's seat for a pregnant woman to sit down; holding open doors for women and children; allowing an older person to pass first through a narrow space; none of these things happen in Japan. Hence, is strange to expect chivalry to manifest in Japan train cars or anywhere else.

We had a Finnish professor for two years in my university. He was a gentleman to everyone, regardless age and gender. Japanese women were delighted and surprised - and yet, he was not doing anything extraordinary in my opinion... but in Japan his simple and kind manners were extraordinary. I am not saying Japanese are -rude- but politeness is simply different. One may or may not come to like and differentiate both sets. It's a cultural thing.

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@Azrael - I think you are right, but I am interested because I don`t honestly know - what actually then IS considered polite in Japan with regards to train etiquette?

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I think it's a lot easier to enjoy this country by avoiding use of rush-hour transport in major cities. Or avoiding going to places where the natives will be out in full force, like temples at new year's, anything to do with shopping, anywhere with cherry blossoms/koyo. Avoiding the trains is only one way to have a better quality of life in Japan.

Japan would be a great place if it weren't for all the Japanese :p

Chivalry is a Western concept. All the manners and deferences associated with chivalry are foreign to Japan and are not taught to children by their mothers simply because Japan has a different set of manners and what is considered polite in the West does not match what is considered polite in Japan. Simple things like, allowing the elderly to go to the front of a line, for example; leaving one's seat for a pregnant woman to sit down; holding open doors for women and children; allowing an older person to pass first through a narrow space; none of these things happen in Japan. Hence, is strange to expect chivalry to manifest in Japan train cars or anywhere else.

Why is it that every time someone uses these kinds of arguments they think Commodore Perry opened the doors yesterday? You can't tell me the Japanese, or anyone for that matter, don't know right from wrong, or what is considered good behavior vs bad. It's simply a choice that is made. To say the Japanese are not aware of this is just because it's a cultural thing is wrong.

The Japanese have the idea of WA, preserving the harmony of society, not being disruptive. Acting like a bunch of monkeys on the trains is not practicing WA.

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i'm pretty sure it was never alive

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If you want chivaly, ride a horse. Don't ride a train.

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yabusama at 03:59 PM JST - 16th November: The Japanese have the idea of WA, preserving the harmony of society, not being disruptive. Acting like a bunch of monkeys on the trains is not practicing WA.

Exactly. I maintain my point of view that chivalry is foreign to Japan. The West has chivalry; Japan has Wa. These are two different and sometimes opposite sets of courtesy. Kirakira, I think Wa is the answer to your question. Yabusama, as you mentioned yourself, to be polite or not be polite is a choice and many Japanese on trains choose not to practice it; however may I point out to your notice that the politeness a Japanese practices is by default derived from the Wa. Chivalry of course sounds nice and romantic, but that does not mean it's automatically stuck to all societies. It derives from cultural practices and as most know, Chivalry is strongly associated with Christendom, where it was born. Japan has been heavily influenced by the West as you propose, but Japan still holds its own cultural identity based on its own roots. Japan with Shinto and Buddhism, has Wa to sustain its manners and morals. It is in the end as you may see, a cultural thing.

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Kirakira, I think Wa is the answer to your question.

Hon, I think it might be the answer to ALL my questions!!!

The Japanese have the idea of WA, preserving the harmony of society, not being disruptive. Acting like a bunch of monkeys on the trains is not practicing WA.

Yabusama - thank you SO much for that! Laughing so hard right now I`m getting contractions! I think you might just have kicked off labour for me!!!

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you're welcome kirakira.

Azrael I agree somewhat with what you're saying. But the use of religion or culture to excuse a way this country and it's people act or think sometimes doesn't hold water with me. Most Japanese can't tell you the origins of something whether it's a thought,concept, or object. It's always "that's the way it's always been." The ironic thing is most of the time they say that they're dead wrong.

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I think there are two main things that influence how courteous we are. First, there is our culture and what our parents taught & showed us. Western ideas about what good manners are and Japanese etiquette are two different concepts.

Second, is our environment and state of mind. Perhaps, Tokyo trains are one of the worst places to find courteous and polite people; we are squeezed like sardines into a confined space and many are stressed-out going to and from work. People in small towns are generally more kind & courteous towards others because they have space, time and some peace of mind.

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The thing is Kansai though is that if someone is hogging seats you can tell them off and they won't get too pissy about it. They'll usually nod, move their stuff and let you sit down. The same can't be said for Tokyo and places like Nagoya. They will pretend they don't see you or don't understand you. I honestly would like to kick the little tea coloured hair cows that sit in the silver seats and pretend to be asleep. There is no reason for a high school or uni student to be sitting down at all. They sit all day doing nothing but sleep in class and then have the nerve to sit down?

And I won't even start on the old folks who refuse to sit in the silver seats that are open but then give you the evil eye if you don't get up for them. Too much pride for the silver seat but I'm supposed to give you my seat after I've been working (and standing up) all day? I refuse to budge unless there are no silver seats open.

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Kirakira, I wish I had something to answer all my questions, too XD. I wish you deliver a healthy child! Yabusama, thanks for your reply. Yes, it's a sad state of affairs everywhere. No matter their background if people give up on courtesy, society becomes a pandemonium.

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I watched a bloke - a grown man - this afternoon picking his nose, licking it, rolling it between his fingers and flicking it on the floor. I leant across and offered him a tissue. He looked at me like I'd started to pass water upon him. He took the tissue and got off at the next stop.

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I watched a bloke - a grown man - this afternoon picking his nose, licking it, rolling it between his fingers and flicking it on the floor.

I'm going to start filming them and posting them on YouTube. Now here's this week's segment of "Digging for Gold"

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When the Japanese say somethingis "wrong" sometimes they mean wrong as in "it's wrong that the summer is so hot". It doesn't mean the plan to change anything...

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That’s why women’s tennis matches are limited to three sets, and why men and women don’t compete against each other in the Olympics

I can see your point with the above examples, but standing isn't exactly an Olympic sport now is it. The thing is, equal rights means equal opportunities for all. Therefore, men have as much right as women. We should all however offer our seats to the elderly, disabled or those with children.

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For years here I was amazed at how the Japanese can go to sleep on the train and wake up exactly at their station. Years later I realised they were only pretending to be asleep. Duh, silly me.

that or they set their keiteis to go off before their stop.

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The article is very good. I also have a similar discussion with my wife: if women ask and fight for an equal treatment, then expect no more than un-politeness. But in Japan, women are neither equal nor "different" to men, but are less than men. From ways of calling them (using their first name and "chan") to the social habit of quitting the job for getting married and expecting the man to provide all the money, this society sees women as a different species. I love Japan, but this is the only social characteristic that I really hate. Things are changing, though. Very slowly, but changing.

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Is chivalry dead on Tokyo trains?

Yes it is dead and not only in Tokyo trains.

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PS. by the way I know a man who is very chivalrous to me because he wants forgiveness but he will be never forgiven. That said Tokyo trains are like hell, if possible stay away from them, salary man will try to suffocate you and press against you under the cover of overcrowded space. Even if they do not try to press themselves on you, there is no possible way to stay away from them, you will be sandwiched between them. Old ladies are so skillful in pushing you and outrunning you who said that Japanese ladies are polite?

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The article is very good. I also have a similar discussion with my wife: if women ask and fight for an equal treatment, then expect no more than un-politeness. But in Japan, women are neither equal nor "different" to men, but are less than men. From ways of calling them (using their first name and "chan") to the social habit of quitting the job for getting married and expecting the man to provide all the money, this society sees women as a different species. I love Japan, but this is the only social characteristic that I really hate. Things are changing, though. Very slowly, but changing.

I am sure the wife "who is less than man" controls your money 100%

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You have to be very selective in riding trains in Tokyo. If you get on the wrong line at the wrong time, its like your going into a rugby scram ass first. Elbows, no space yielded as you try to move to the center of the seats to make room away from the doors as all the announcements tell you to do. Then when you get there, you realize that's where most of the space actually is! This is a terrible "habit"/"custom"/ what's the word? Junnama says it right when he says "it doesn't mean they plan to change anything". And that too is a problem.....for us. I sometimes (oftentimes/all the times) think that J-people DON'T WANT change for the better. A friend who lived and died here said once before his death, "Japanese like the recession better" than prosperous times. After many years I think he was right. They seem to feel most alive when they are suffering. As if its kind a kindship with reality. Still it takes an enormous amount of patience to go along with this mentality. So why the xxxx are we still here? Another habit concerning the trains is the way on crowded platforms or hallways leading to platforms, they'll all walk like elephants not in any hurry to make the incoming train, but just going slow enough to block anyone coming from behind. They drive like this on the tollways too, for your information. On the "fast" lane, they won't go any faster (and sometimes slower) than the limit. So I think this is Japan. Real Japan......don't budge for nobody....and after 45 years of completely being screwed by the LDP, they finally made a switch. But for how long is anyone's guess. Tomorrow, I'll just breath deeply, count to 10 and try not to smell the bad things around me. Its a work day. As bad as women have it on the trains,men have it bad too.

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Was there any to begin with?

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it never existed, it's just a dog-eat-dog city, with winners and losers. If you want manners, head to the countryside where people still greet each other and look happy.

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This equality thing is a mistake. Women should stay home, cook, take care of kids, have tea with friends, and go shopping during men's working hours. That way we wouldn't have situations like this.

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I once saw a foreigner stand up on a crowded train and offer his seat to an elderly Japanese woman standing. However, some high student collapsed into the space the man had provided and the Japanese lady looked on too embarassed to say anything. The foreigner stamped his weight on the student's foot, and started to grind it into the floor while demanding an apologise to the somewhat shocked old lady. As that wasn't forecoming quickly enough, he grabbed the student and forcefully lifted him out of the seat and to the middle of the carriage. I watched the whole thing, and the Japanese girl with me said, 'Aren't you going to help?' This wasn't in Tokyo, but Kitakyushu where I live. It's not just Tokyo, where it's everyone for themselves. However, this was a somewhat unlikely event for here.

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I see a lot of people helping each other here in Japan. On the trains and elsewhere.

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"a seat became available directly in front of me. From what I have observed of train behavior thus far, my fortunate location means I get first dibs on the seat"

No, the person with the fastest reflexes gets the first dibs on the seat. Unless, of course, the people sitting in the next seat slide over into the seat that was just vacated right in front of you to make room for their friend.

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Chivalry on trains in Japan is not dead - Japanese Salarymen are always very eager to lend a hand to girls and women.

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BurakuminDes - Good one.

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Last time I was on a train I asked a middle aged man sitting in the priority seat if he would give up my seat for the girl I was with who was fatigued due to a medical condition. He got up before I even said the words "medical condition". All you got to do is ask most times. You can't expect people to take the time to scan all the passengers, figure out who is most in need and give up the seat to them. The trains are too packed and people too tired to do that. If you can't open your mouth, you don't deserve the seat frankly.

That said, I do give up my seat if I see someone in need. But I have the luxury because my days don't leave me dog tired.

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Good point numbskull. My previous points notwithstanding, there is a bit of ishin-denshin left in these people. Maybe not the one's below 20, but say the one's older than 35? or so? And is this just a carping of older generation to younger one? I don't think so.

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I think chivalry is good anywhere, but given the particularly raw deal that women get in Japan, should be more prevalent here as they deserve more support. Patronising and sexist? Maybe. But would most Japanese women object to being offered a seat? Never, in my experience.

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newjapanese at 12:52 PM JST - 16th November

We have been fighting for so long to gain equal rights (which arguably have not yet been fully achieved), to say we can do things just as well as men. And, indeed, I support equality

Jessica, remember in the west men and women are EQUAL, so do not come to Japan complaining you are treated equal and forced to stand on a train, Japanese know western females are equal to western males so will treat you the same way they treat a western male.

I will give up my seat to the Japanese mothers carrying babies, pregnant Japanese ladies, elderly Japanese ladies even though I have a disability and need to walk with the help of two crutches. I will not give up my seat to any students, gaikokujin male or female(with child, pregnant or whatever) or Japanese males.

It really annoys me to see western females always wanting to be treated equal and when something does not go the way they want complain they are the weaker sex and need special treatment!

Want to be treated like a lady and have men open doors, give up seats, walk closest to the road etc, then accept you are not equal to a male, but if you want to be equal to a male then do not complain if you slap a male and he turns and gives you a knuckle sandwich, remember you are equal and he would have given any male that slapped him a knuckle sandwich also!

Sorry to dissapoint you, newjapanese, but when I was pregnant..there was always a japanese gentleman who would stand up and offer me his seat. See now? Not all Japanese men are like you...fortunately.

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I think the quandary about standing for a lady who might just be a bit fat rather than pregnant is a false dilemma. Fat people are usually lazy too, so are unlikely to get upset about a chance to sit down.

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I once saw a foreigner stand up on a crowded train and offer his seat to an elderly Japanese woman standing. However, some high student collapsed into the space the man had provided and the Japanese lady looked on too embarassed to say anything. The foreigner stamped his weight on the student's foot, and started to grind it into the floor while demanding an apologise to the somewhat shocked old lady. As that wasn't forecoming quickly enough, he grabbed the student and forcefully lifted him out of the seat and to the middle of the carriage.

How often I have dreamed of doing this. But the idea of spending time with the keystones doesn't appeal to me.

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numbskull:

You can't expect people to take the time to scan all the passengers, figure out who is most in need and give up the seat to them. The trains are too packed and people too tired to do that. If you can't open your mouth, you don't deserve the seat frankly.

I think you hit the nail on the head. I once stood up and asked an elderly man if he would like my seat, but he said he was only on the train for one stop, so he didn't need to sit down. Kind of embarrassing to have my offer turned down, then having to sit back down.

Not to sound cruel, but having my offer turned down once made me think twice about offering again... needless to say, I still do offer my seat to extremely elderly people, but I keep in mind that just being a woman, or being elderly or pregnant doesn't necessarily mean that they want or need to sit.

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Miyaratmosphere at 03:05 PM JST - 17th November, I am a surprised by your comment so I would like to say in all constructive criticism that you seem to be a little confused. Courtesy, at least in the West, is about treating others as you wish they treat you and most specially, care for those weaker than you at the moment. That is what courtesy is about. I cannot help but to perceive you harbor animosity towards Westerners and more acutely towards Western females (regardless if you are Western or not). A pregnant woman, an elderly woman and a woman carrying a child in her arms in a packed train are always in a weaker position than you. It is only good-natured and polite to offer your seat. You see, the cornerstone of courtesy is to be kind from the heart. If you discriminate against females, well... you are being rude. It's your choice and you may remain seated; but please notice that authentic politeness does not discriminate.

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Want to complain? Go to Montreal and try to take the Metro. Then come back and take the train here. No comparison. It's sad to say, but the Japanese image of foreign barbarians is probably based on some tourists' experience in my home town. People don't even bother lining up!

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Don't bother lining up? Go line up on the Keihin Tohoku line at Kamata and see how far that gets you. Or the Odakyu line, or the Chuo line, or the.....at morning and evening rush.

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I used to give my seat to older women until I realized that most of them had colored their hair to hide the gray. I thought that, if I offered them my seat, I was forcing them to admit what they were trying to hide. So for their benefit, I remain seated. Now, my rule on offering my seat is, if ain't gray, no way.

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I've totally jacked seats from people on trains when they're not fast enough to get into them. Beating a salary man who more than likely sits in front of a desk all day is not a bad thing... I'm on my feet teaching for hours! Psh.

However, if there is an elderly person or a pregnant woman I will give them my seat b/c I'm a decent human being... I don't just sit there pretending not to notice them.

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RULE #2,427: Never expect proper lines on all mass transit stations in any city on any part of the world.

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Is chivalry dead on Tokyo trains? Answer - yes, so long ago it wnet out with the dinosaurs. Ive never encountered so much rudeness in my life as on Tokyo`s trains, and also so much racism.

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was chivalry ever alive? I love it when i see lots of young guys sitting down and an old woman standing and they are all looking at the floor so as not to see her or pretending to sleep. People here are basically selfish. Its the same reason that on crowded trains some guy might grab the ass of some lady. Its all about what you can do for yourself not your fellow man (or woman).

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What kind of man doesnt give his seat to old women or pregnant women. Heck here well give a seat up for a women just because she's a women. Just the way we are in the south i guess.

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I always did my best to pay attention to others when riding the trains around Tokyo, and helped out where I could.

There is no need for "chivalry"-just basic manners.

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I think the train etiquette in Tokyo is pretty good actually, compared to London, but politeness in general is sadly lacking.

At least in London, people wait for you get off the trains!

I was in Tokyo last December for DJ'ing. I was in a crowded train with laptop bag etc, and then train arrived at the station. Everyone got off, and whilst I was fighting my way through crowds of people (because very few people have any sense of spacial awareness), I was met with a HUGE onslaught of people barging onto the trian before I'd gotten off. I employed my London skills, and barged back! And managed to get off. It boils down to impatience and rudeness, and NOT THINKING!!

I ride trains in the inaka every day, and they are a nightmare, crowded etc, lack of carriages, seats, people wanting to huddle around the doorways whilst the middles are empty, and people pushing the 'CLOSE' button before the train is ready to leave. We can't let those germs escape the carriage!!

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Did someone actually write here that "the "etiquette" in Tokyo is pretty good compared to London?" I almost fell off my seat! Where do some of you reside? In some make-believe "everything about Japan is wonderful, just-off-the-boat mentality, science fiction make-believe world?"

Believe me, if you have just arrived here and are still in the "honeymoon period" - you will soon wake up and smell the salarimen! The people I enounter day and daily on Tokyo`s train system are the rudest I have ever encountered. I have been here for a long time, and I remember the days when people here actually still had a few manners. Those days have LONG gone. We are living now in a generation of hedonistic, self-centred, ethnocentric racists.

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RULE #3,414: Asians in general do not have an innate sense of personal space and privacy. I am Asian, so I am not being racist.

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I would think anyone who must ride ANY subway in ANY country during rush hours would have to abandon ANY sense of "personal space". :-) I was a subway rider, so I am not being commuterist.

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Some Western manners are foreign to the Japanese. "Ladies first" is probably #1. I can't count how many women I've surprised by letting them go first ... and it's a great way to flatter them ;)

I've given my seat to elderly women on the train before, but the Japanese have that characteristic enryo (遠慮) so you have to ask 2 or 3 times or almost shove them into your seat. I've even been refused!

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Some Western manners are foreign to the Japanese. "Ladies first" is probably #1. I can't count how many women I've surprised by letting them go first ... and it's a great way to flatter them ;)

i miss this I want to to be surprised every day by men letting me go first

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Yes and no. It all depends on the level of education of the individual, how tired they may be, how drunk etc..if you are having a good day, you do not even want to sit, if you have had a crappy day, and you are in no mood to give up your seat to the old folks, it happens. But chivarly is definitely not part of traditional Japanese culture, every man and woman for themselves!!!

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Have been here 10 years+ and it was most definitely dead then, so pretty sure it was never alive in the first place. Any speaking of manners~ I could count the number of times someone has held a door open for me on one hand, apart from in international hotels of course or when a Westernized Jpn guy was doing his best ladies first impression. It is strange that in here, in a homogeneous society, manners are only afforded to the inner circle or business associates, whereas in a melting pot like New York or London, chivalry and general public manners are well represented.

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Never existed here and never will. Western poeple rationlize things with The paradigms they are given - in this case gender. Its far more simple than that, beneath The thin veneer of politeness Japanese are selfish who care for nothing Except themselves. They confuse individuality with selfishness. They built there own prison And they have to live in it. Why things get a little rough on the trains is Because they simply don't care as they will most likely never meet the same person twice and That's all there is to it.

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Torikuru and eugenics seem to have hit the nail on the head. Its really a laugh that to a person, Japanese will say "we're shy", or "we're so polite", "we don't have to speak to each other because we can understand without speaking." That's what those youngsters sitting on the silver seats playing with their games are thinking right? It seems they are polite when they are forced to deal with foreigners, but as eugenics reminds us, when they are together in public, watch out for the cut-off, butt-in, bag swipe, and all the rest. Chivarly on the trains?

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The difference between London and Tokyo is that in London people still seem to know how to behave, and people don't shove because they know there's the prospect of getting hit if they wind the wrong person up. In Japan, as a sturdy foreigner, I've lost count of the times oyajis have deliberately shoved me. They do it because they know that they can.

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This hole thing has to be looked at in the context of how hard a life many Japanese live.

When you work 12+ hours a day, have 2 hours commuting from home to work and 2 more from work to home, being able to sit in a train looks like heaven.

Is this an excuse for being rude? Probably not, but I wouldn't want anyone living in a luxury appartment in Azabu Juuban 10 mins walk from work to cast judgements.

Cheers, Bernard

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