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Consumer Affairs Agency urges people not to walk on escalators


The Consumer Affairs Agency is urging people not to walk on moving escalators and observe "escalator etiquette," as the number of injuries continues to increase.

According to the agency, between 2011 and 2013, a total of 3,865 people had to be taken to hospitals in Tokyo to be treated for injuries sustained while on escalators, Fuji TV reported Thursday. The Tokyo Fire Department said that of the total, 60% were aged 65 or older.

Since June, the Consumer Affairs Agency has been running a public safety campaign throughout the Tokyo metropolitan area urging people to be careful while on escalators.

The campaign asks people not to walk on moving escalators past people in front of them because they can sometimes get tangled up in umbrellas, handbag straps and so on. Escalator users are also advised to hold onto the hand rail at all times. The campaign also cautions people not to look at mobile devices for too long. A number of accidents have been reported in which people, engrossed in their mobile devices, either lost their footing at the bottom of an escalator or bumped into others, causing them to fall like dominoes.

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Perhaps these are the bright sparks who advise those on escalators to "stand between the yellow lines."

Try and stand OUTSIDE the yellow lines the next time you're on an escalator!

Can't be done!

6 ( +12 / -6 )

I experienced this first hand at Hachioji station a while back. Both "lanes" of the escalator leaving the Yokohama Line platforms were crowded, and the "walking lane" wasn't moving because somebody at the front decided not to. I was in the crowd, nearing the top, and witnessed an older man step off the escalator...and stop right there. There were multiple shouts of "abunai!" as people began to pile up behind the apparently clueless gentleman. Fortunately nobody was hurt.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

roger the yellow lines BertieWooster!!!! a metaphor for Japan if ever there was one...

1 ( +6 / -5 )

A question that has always plagued me: Kanto people stand to the left on an escalator while in Kansai they stay to the right. Does anyone know where is the crossover line is? On my only time in Nagoya I forgot to take notice, but I kinda thought it was the same as Tokyo there. And in Hiroshima and Okayama its back to the left like Tokyo, and the same for all of Shikoku.But does anyone know what the perimeter for the Kansai right is? (Maibara? Wakayama? Himeji?)

(Note: I'm not asking why this is done as there are a plethora of conflicting reasons including Kimono design, Tokugawa decree, World Expos, and general Osaka-ness. I'm just curious about where things switch left/right and if its definable).

7 ( +8 / -1 )

On many occasions I've witnessed first-hand the "escalator stoppers" get nearly piled over because they get to the bottom or the top and just stand there, as if they are the only person in the world, and are momentarily oblivious to the throng behind them. Blam!

7 ( +7 / -1 )

Um, no.

First of all in a metropolitan area of about 38 million people, 3,800 represents 0.01% of the population. Think I'll risk it. In addition, no link was made by the gov't. (or at least in the article) between walking on the escalator and injury risk.

Secondly, (just to be sure of the definition) I googled "etiquette". Here's what I found: "a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group."

The etiquette here in Tokyo is for people in a hurry (like me) to walk on the right, and for those willing to wait, or too infirm (or lazy) to walk to que up and board on the left. It works quite well and I've never seen a problem related to somebody walking in 18 years here.

Nay, this is an attempt by gov't. to establish an arbitrary set of rules to reduce (not eliminate) an already infinitesimally small risk. The further infantilization of the population, think I'll pass.

Luckily this has ZERO chance of being accepted by my fellow Tokyoites and will pass like malodorous gas on the train -with much irritation, but nonetheless, silently.

18 ( +23 / -6 )

Escalators weren't designed to be walked on. And to expect everyone to 'know' about the 'walking lane' (which does differ between Tokyo and Osaka) when it's not posted does cause accidents. Expecting others 'to know' just because you think it's the norm already is the cause of a problem.

-11 ( +8 / -19 )

If people aren't glued to their mobiles they can see where they are going.

@Supey11 According to my husband, and I don't know if this is true, people in Kansai stand on the right as they are emulating the Tube in London. It either started during, or was reinforced by, the 1970 Expo where signs were put up for visitors instructing them to stand on the right to avoid congestion. It seems to have spread along the commuter network into Osaka so Kansai stands, quite correctly, on the right.

Anyway, standing on the left is weird, but not as weird as Japan having two different electrical voltages. That is just perverse.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

I once asked a Mitsubishi escalator repairman about this and he told me that according to the companies official safety guidelines, users are supposed to stand in the middle of the escalator step and hold on to the sides with both ares. lol, can you imagine if everyone did that?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

....as Japan having two different electrical voltages.

It doesn't. Voltage is standard 100 volts but the frequency varies; there is a big difference between voltage and frequency.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Not just from mobile devices; demographic aging must be a factor in the injuries.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Your tax yen hard at work, folks!

between 2011 and 2013, a total of 3,865 people had to be taken to hospitals in Tokyo

Chicken Little scare mongering from the slippered and superannuated. Shinjuku alone has 1.26 billion passengers per year. Your risk of being hospitalised is one in several million.

“escalator etiquette”

Feeble minded, self-limiting poppycock. What next, helmet etiquette in case the sky should fall in?

7 ( +12 / -5 )

"Don't walk or run!" signs would be unrealistic, counter-productive and unenforceable.

Time to put up signs, "Tokyo etiquette means stand to the left, overtake on the right." in various languages. Failing that, having saved bags of money with the new stadium, have little horizontal moving extension walkways at the bottom to clear the befuddled.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Aren't there enough of those recorded warnings on escalators now?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

There's only one possible reason you could get tangled up in an umbrella or something else when passing another person, and that's if the other person's baggage is spilling over into the 'passing lane' of the escalator. I see this all the time; people who have elevators held pointing into the open lane of the escalator and/or massive bags (including school and sports bags) that you have to push aside to get past). And yes, there's the odd person tripping because they are staring at a cell phone, and people who stop at the top of an escalator, etc., so it sounds to me like it's not the problem of the people walking on an escalator so much as it is a problem of etiquette for those who choose to stand for the ride up or down. Talk to THEM.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Nagoya already forbids walking. Personally, I prefer to have the choice and will encourage a 'stander' to walk if he is in the walking lane.

3 ( +5 / -2 )


As far as I've witnessed, Osaka, Wakayama, and Hyogo all stand on the right. Kyoto is part of Kansai, but they stand on the left. Shiga is also a part of Kansai, but I've never taken the train there so I can't say. Hope this helps!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A loud and sharp sumimasen is enough to move folks to the sloth side. It would be better to have signs saying "Left/right lane for people in a rush ONLY." I'm going to ignore this "etiquette" like a decent minded person with a sense of rationality.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

And thats why I prefer taking the stairs. Left, right, standing still, too much yadayada. Plus it keeps me in shape.

8 ( +8 / -2 )

Thanks @CannondaleCommuter. My experience in Okayama (just beyond Hyogo) was on the right, but that was just train transfer (with many people from elsewhere) and not in the regular city. Anyone else have input?

Also, I'd say Kyoto is a mixed bag. My impression is that people for the most part can't be bothered with walking at all on the escalators there, and just stand where ever they want (especially those in pairs).

Anyone out there in the far Kansai suburbs know the crossover line? Mie? Shiga? Outer Kyoto? Tottori?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

not walking on the escalators still isn't gonna stop the old codgers and cell phone zomebies from standing still after getting off one. i tend to push the latter as often as i can.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The etiquette here in Tokyo is for people in a hurry (like me) to walk on the right, and for those willing to wait, or too infirm (or lazy) to walk to que up and board on the left.

This is completely ridiculous. I thought it was only Japanese people who kept up these obnoxious escalator rules. Escalators exist to get large numbers of people up or down a short distance as fast as possible. If "infirm or lazy" people (or people wearing heels, or people carrying baggage, or people holding a baby, etc.) all have to line up to use only half the escalator, while a comparatively small number of people sprint up the right side, the escalator is failing at its very basic purpose. Especially at stations with very long escalators, like on the the Oedo or Sobu express lines, or the Tozai line at Nihonbashi, it just makes no sense. If you're in such a hurry that you can't wait for the escalator to bring you to the top, then jog up the stairs. Expecting people to wait in a line sometimes dozens of people long just to keep the "express lane" open is total nonsense.

And they ask you to stand within the yellow lines because Crocs-style rubber shoes can trip you up and lead to accidents if they rub against the side of the escalator or the step in front when it lowers back down at the top.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

I use the stairs. Burns more calories...

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Nagoya subways ban walking on escalators and have signs everywhere. These are basically ignored and the common sense rule of having a walking lane still prevails. It is a stupid rule, they could just as easily trot out a bunch of stats on stair related accidents and ban walking up and down those too.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

borax is completely right

At least in Nagoya, what happens on the subways is there is a huge pack of people waiting around the escalator and clogging up the rest of the train platform just so everyone can line up and use only the left side, while the occasional person walks up the right. Congestion is doubled because of this. If it's not during rush hour and you don't have to wait in line to use the left side, then, sure - do everyone a solid and ride on the left. But if there are people lining up to use one side, while the other side is open, then use the other side. It's more efficient.

I'd say that, in Nagoya at least, probably 1 in 20 to 30 use the "walking lane" at most. 3-5% of people get 50% of the available space, while 95-97% get the other 50%. In high-traffic areas such as subway/train stations, this utilization of space makes no sense.

The problem is that, while there are signs everywhere in Nagoya about standing, there is absolutely no enforcement, so they go ignored. If they want to change people's commuting behavior, they need to put staff near the escalators during busy times to direct people to the right side. It's even got to the point here where the signs say stuff like, "Have courage and stand on the right side."

If you're in a rush USE THE STAIRS. And if you're a foreigner complaining about people being too slow on the escalator (like most of the posters here, I'd imagine) - then get over yourself. Where are you in such a hurry to go? There's a ticking bomb somewhere in the city and only you know its location? You're carrying a cooler which contains a human heart set to be used in transplant surgery? No, you're going to your eikaiwa school or junior high school. Your getting to Nova on time is of no more importance to society than anyone else making it to his/her destination on time.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

The idea is to slow everyone down. The escalators will then be overcrowded. More escalators will have to be installed to handle the load.

Good for business, at least escalator sales.

Walking is quicker, healthier and helps you get away from the stupid and annoying yellow line announcements. We waste too much time on trains and at stations. We don't need to waste any more.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Of course I meant "umbrellas" sticking out, not "elevators".

0 ( +1 / -1 )

sanjigen at Jul. 24, 2015 - 07:39AM JST Escalators weren't designed to be walked on. And to expect everyone to 'know' about the 'walking lane' (which does differ between Tokyo and Osaka) when it's not posted does cause accidents. Expecting others 'to know' just because you think it's the norm already is the cause of a problem.

Most social norms are discovered by interaction and observation. No teaches you to sit, walk or talk Japanese. You follow other people's cues. Hence the difficultly in making AI think.

In Himeji I know to walk up and down on the left because everyone else does it. Why would I go against convention? Similarly in Tokyo I would follow everyone else cue.

Going back to the issue at hand. Yes, totally ridiculous. Clearly someone is very bored at work. Most over countries manage to use them without injury.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The issue isn't walking. The issue is people having their head down and reading their phones or not having any common sense to stop hogging the middle or not walking straight off and stepping to the side to figure out where to go. I have never seen a country where people are so inept at looking around and realising that they're blocking the flow of moving people. I have lost count at how many times I have had to tell people to move once they get to the top of the escalator because they stop and take a nice gander around. Lack of common sense. If there isn't someone with a baton telling folks to shuffle along folks don't just shuffle along. One side for walking, the other for standing. It isn't that hard but many here find it impossible. For a country that goes on about not wanting to cause others meiwaku...

And consumer affairs? Really? Don't they have better things to do?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The Consumer Affairs Agency is urging people not to walk on moving escalators and observe “escalator etiquette,” as the number of injuries continues to increase.

Thank you Captain Obvious. A perfect example of why Japan is so far in debt -- so the taxpayers can foot the bill for a bloated bureaucracy that produces this kind of nonsense.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I'd say that, in Nagoya at least, probably 1 in 20 to 30 use the "walking lane" at most. 3-5% of people get 50% of the available space, while 95-97% get the other 50%.

I ride the Nagoya subway a couple of times a week and this is not my experience. At rush hour at major stations both standing and walking lanes are usually completely full. At minor stations or non-rush hour times there usually isn`t enough of a crowd for it to matter. To the extent that there sometimes are situations where the walking lane is more crowded I would imagine this stupid rule itself is to blame by discouraging people from walking.

If the concern is getting people off the platform as efficiently as possible, then having a walking lane makes sense - the crowds are able to clear out way quicker if they can walk up the escalator rather than having to stand and make the slow ascent.

More to the point though, if there were actual safety concerns involved then I might accept a ban on walking. But on its face this is just a stupid rule which even if it were to work properly (ie everybody obeyed it) would probably do nothing to improve safety. They havent at all made a convincing case that walking up or down the escalator - fundamentally the exact same activity as walking up and down stairs - is inherently dangerous. This is probably why most people ignore it. It just smacks of paternalistic bureaucrats trying to look like they are doing something productive when they arent.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

no real reason but i just don't like standing still on an escalator, especially going down. Feel like a dumb animal on a conveyor in an abbatoir. just get antsy and want to walk. why is it any more dangerous than walking up or down a normal staircase???

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Reza Rahman Most social norms are discovered by interaction and observation. No teaches you to sit, walk or talk Japanese. You follow other people's cues.

I won't disagree with you but you're proving my point. Not everybody choose to do so and just because you do and are able to doesn't mean everyone else will. That presumption is what cause accidents most times not just on escalators but driving etc.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I am sorry to say that often, level of safety for exits, including escalators, is not top grade, knowing that old people (and lazy) make the majority.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why doesn't the Consumer Affairs Agency just tell people not to go outside? I'm sure that will cut down on "outside related accidents"

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Signs? Who needs signs? Just stand if the person in front of you is standing and walk if one side is clear of non-moving people. About the left / right rule, at least on stairs: At the university where I teach, students sometimes keep to the right and sometimes to the left. Maybe it's because some are from Kanto and some are from Kansai. I haven't seen any crashes or fights even though sometimes you have to switch from the left side to the right side between floors.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I saw a sign from this campaign last night actually, it would probably cause JR a lot of headaches if everyone started standing in escalators since even now they often run both escalators downwards during rushes to get people off the platforms quickly enough. Of course everyone will ignore this campaign though, especially since the number of accidents is completely insignificant and you'll probably have more people having stress induced strokes from standing in the escalators. I'm sure more people hurt themselves falling in the regular stairs than in escalators.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I stand in the escalator. That is what it was designed for. And I feel that if you are in a hurry take the stairs. A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Sure I will not walk on moving escalators, but only if you put a "fast moving lane"... if not... I will still walk on escalators (an moving roads) if I consider it necessary.

People get tangled with umbrellas and bags all the time, and accidents happens even if you are not walking on escalators... just last year I think there were two accidents were the escalators stop suddenly and people that were not walking ended up with broken bones and stuff....

If Consumer Affairs Office is so keen to our safety, they should give us a personal bubble ball...

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Consumer Affairs Agency urges people not to walk on moving escalators

There are escalators that don't move?

Wouldn't they be "stairs"?

2 ( +3 / -1 )


You ride the subway a couple of times a week. I ride the subway every single day from Kanayama to Sakae and then to Fushimi. You'd be hard pressed to find three busier subway stations in all of Nagoya. It's absolutely the case that the "walking lane" is wide open and people crowd around the "standing lane" regardless of the time of day, especially in places like Fushimi and Sakae where the station is busy all day.

Armchair urban planning experts here on Japantoday think that no one has ever measured foot traffic in the stations and considered the optimal utilization of space to account for safety, cost performance, and efficiency. It's not as if the transportation companies have anything to gain from there being hordes of people huddled around chokepoints obstructing movement. There's also the maintenance issue to address. Escalators break down more easily when everyone stands to one side because it causes uneven wear on the machinery. http://www.myfoxny.com/story/24275823/frustrations-of-escalator-maintenance

But please, all you critics, continue to regale us with observations showing us how keen your intellect is and how utterly incompetent the people are in charge whose job is to make these decisions. In fact, just go to your local subway station and give your feedback to the station master. I'm sure he/she will be astounded by the originality of your ideas - "Wow...you mean...people stand on one side, and walk on the other? It sounds crazy, but let's give it a try!" Please. This is another case of bitter ex-pats just looking for something to complain about.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

There were multiple shouts of "abunai!" as people began to pile up behind the apparently clueless gentleman.

A personal observation: the word "abunai" might be the one that, above all others in the language, drives me to fits of rage.

In other cultures I've lived in, when you want someone to pay attention to something dangerous, you tell them what to look for, and/or where to look. "Watch your step", "behind you", "heads up", "look out below", and variations on these, inform the oblivious person exactly where they need to be looking.

"Abunai!" doesn't tell the person anything. What are they supposed to do, freeze in their tracks and then look around them to discover where the danger is? And the person shouting "abunai" has clearly seen this danger -- why not tell the clueless person where it is, and what to be looking out for?

Sometimes I think the extreme levels of public obliviousness and cluelessness stem from this. People are barraged with voice-recorded guidance and warning signs about unimportant things everywhere they go, but then when another person's attention really is needed, the custom is to utter a single, uninformative word. Even when you're not the one being spoken to, hearing some stranger tell another stranger to "watch your head" clues you in that maybe there's a beam or low ceiling to be aware of.

I would love to see a campaign to get people to use more informative language in these situations.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Lucabrasi - yes, like when there is a power outage or if it's an outdoor elevator and it's raining. In those cases presumably it's ok to walk on the non-moving escalator. I can just imagine these brilliant bureaucrats debating the wording on this.

Bfarm - your example just demonstrates that this plan is doomed to failure. And if the point is clearing the platform then having walkers will help to alleviate the problem as more traffic would flow over the same steps. That is atarimae.

I walk up a long escalator every morning at Tokyo eki as do many others. I've never seen an accident and everybody appears to understand what to do. Etiquette, in Tokyo anyway, is to stand on the left, and walk on the right. This seems to help clear the incredibly crowded platforms, so it's also practical. Those who don't understand the etiquette should start paying attention.

0 ( +2 / -2 )


As I wrote in my original comment, I have no doubt that it will fail unless the stations start having staff members standing there directing people to the other side, just as people rushing to jump into trains just as the doors close will continue to do so unless there is someone on the platform physically preventing them from doing so.

You misunderstand the problem, however. Congestion is inevitable. The problem is that congestion is worsened when the majority of people only use one side of the escalator. No "walking" lane means the "standing" lane is 50% shorter. That shorter line allows more people to get off the platform and onto the escalator.

As far as the number of injuries being insignificant, or that you've never seen one yourself - that's irrelevant. If it's 10 injuries or 100 injuries or 1000 - the point is that they are perfectly avoidable if people use the escalator properly. You wouldn't care what the percentages were if it was your little girl or little boy getting smacked in the head by the bag of some d-bag rushing up the other side.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Stay to the left or GET OUT OF THE WAY - seasoned Tokyo commuter

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Years ago I lived in Hokkaido.

At Kita-Hiroshima Station, walking down the escalator (yes, I do - with all apologies), the announcement stated "TAIHEN KIKEN DESU KARA," (iTS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS), it then went on to explain about making sure you stand between the yellow lines, hold onto the handrail and grabbing hold of any children in your care to protect them from the extreme danger of the escalator.

I reached the platform.

Several minutes later, with NO ANNOUNCEMENT or warning whatsoever, a goods train tore through the station. It MUST HAVE been doing at least 100kph.

There appears to be some difference in the definition of danger.

I'll take the escalator any day, walking down it and even, yes, though I go into a cold sweat to think about it, NOT holding the handrail.

I like to live dangerously!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Bfarm - at Tokyo eki the commuters queue in 2 separate lines. There is a full load for both the left side and the right side, though of course thd quete is longer on the left. Having walkers reduces congestion more quickly than 2 lanes of standers would. I realize you won't take my word for it, please come see for yourself.

I teach my kids to stand and the left and walk on the right as that is the proper etiquette. I wouldn't want them to be jama or get smacked.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If these injuries were between 2011 and 2013, why not just say 2012?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@bfarm - not sure what I said to elicit that snide, angry response, my earlier post was completely reasonable in tone.

But anyway, since you are apparently holding yourself out as the expert now, can you explain to me why, if there is such a valid need for a no-walking rule, Nagoya is (to my knowledge at least) the only city in Japan that has such a ban? Seems to me that all the armchair urban planning experts you deride apparently includes all such experts employed by cities throughout the country other than Nagoya.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In Washington DC for the DC metro, there are signs at the escalators that tell folks (Stand on right, walk on left, like Osaka).

In Yokohama, they tried a few years ago to make escalators all standing only (not sure what came of it).

What bugs me more about escalators in Japan, is that you often either have an all up escalator or an all down escalator, but sometimes not both (an up or down one). Or some stations, an escalators that is literally 4 steps.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"the total, 60% were aged 65 or older." - article

In two years 1,546 older people fell on elevators. Or, approximately two people per day. Of those, they might have just as easily fallen anywhere else. Elderly people fall down.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you don't walk when on the right side of escalators in Tokyo you get abused by the people behind you.

Understand why it's dangerous etc but is impossible to change this habit unless you staff an employee at the start of every escalator.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just a thought, but how about stand on moving escalators and walk on stationary steps?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The agency needs to do tv promos to teach people what do if someone falls. PUSH THE RED BUTTON AT THE BOTTOM OR TOP. 99% of the people don't know it is there to stop the stairs. A good item to survey here is where is the emergency stop button on the stairs or the local train platform. It would make a cute anime.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How about encouraging escalator users to be aware of their surroundings?

Walking up or down an escalator, with or without holding the handrail is ONLY dangerous if you are not paying attention. These things don't exactly run at light speed! The tape loop announcements are dangerous because they are hypnotic.

How about dividing each escalator step with a yellow strip. Those who want to stand, stand on the yellow strip. Those who want to walk do so on the other half?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In that case, speed up the escalators. Japan has some of the slowest escalators in the world - go to Singapore and their escalators will transport you up like a rocket!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My local train station has a sign in front of the right-side escalator saying "Up only". Brilliant.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The classic obasan manoeuvre is to walk towards the escalator in the right hand (walking) queue, then cut in to the left, usually just in front of me, thereby getting to the cake shop a few seconds earlier than they otherwise would. I sometimes try to point out that it's a queue they're jumping and they studiously ignore me. And Japan's SUCH a polite country, isn't it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I guarantee people will continue to walk up and down escalators.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The campaign also cautions people not to look at mobile devices for too long.

Common sense. The numbers of smartphone zombies are epidemic. One will need to call up Milla Jovovic before too long

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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