How to Ride a Train in Japan
Feb 05,2010
I was riding the train this morning and realized there are
certain rules here which I thought might help if anyone
has a chance to ride a Japanese train.

*Fold Newspapers
When reading a newspaper in the train, it is polite to fold it down
just enough to see the column you are reading. Do not spread out the
full-size paper because it will touch the people around you.

*Don't Eat
There are people who eat on the train but not many.
Especially food with a strong smell should NOT be eaten on the train.
But yes, we have some tired business men with a can beer eating some snacks
on the train.

*No Make Up
This is actually not something I should say to people from overseas because
this is only done by Japanese girls. Young girls use their commuting time to finish up their makeup. Adults think it is very bad manners to show yourself fixing makeup in public.

*No Phones
I think this rule has been followed by most Japanese. If anyone talks on the phone in the train, it's either a young kid who doesn't care, or someone having a very important business call. Most people don't seem to have a problem with this rule. Everybody, I mean 80% of the people riding the train are either texting, watching TV on cell-phone, or doing games with Nintendo DS.

*Wait Before Getting In
When the train stops at the station,
step aside to either the right or left and always let people getting off come out first before going in.


*How to Handle Rush Hours
People will slide in at the last moment and will also try to open up the shutting doors at rush hours. Business men can not wait for the next train to come in 3 min. They have to be there on time.
People will jump into a insanely packed train. If you can not get in, the station staff will come running and push you inside.
What you need to remember here is everyone gets squashed, pushed and everybody is very very uncomfortable. Still, no one yells or gets mad. It's just how rush hour is. The train is still very quiet.

*Keep Legs Together
I've also noticed that men from overseas tend to spread their legs out wide apart. I understand because they have long legs and they can't help it.
But whenever they do that, most Japanese avoids sitting next to them because
they can't tell a big guy to shut their legs. It is a little hard for us Japanese to go sit next to someone like that.

So if anyone is wondering why no one sits next to you, even if the train is crowded, perhaps this might be the reason.

Anyway, I hope this would be a little tip on how to ride a train in Japan.

See you next week.

How to Ride a Train in Japan Comments


Ah, I've been to Tokyo for 10 days last November and had to take the train everyday so when I read this it reminded me a lot of those times (laugh). The rush hour had made us wait the next train once and it was really tough, but I really understood that people go to places in time. In where I live we usually go out early if we know there'll be a rush hour even if it means we'll go to the place earlier than intended, but in Japan everything we did was done by clock so I was surprised. (And a bit sad because in the end I didn't have the chance to hang out in the airport before I came back w)
Thanks for this post.
by Fulya : Feb 12,2010
I think that most of these rules are common sense ... even more when you know some basic stuff how Japanese act (especially no calls and no food).
I've been to Japan for this new year and the rules made no problem for me (though i'd still like to see Tokyo rush hour at least once, when i was there half of the city was gone to their hometown for the new year parties :P). The only strange rule that i came to learn there and got myself almost squashed because of it is that if there is a free place next to you are automatically expected to change your seat if a guy seating on the other side of you is talking to his/her standing friend so both of them can seat next to each other.
I noticed that quite early but it wasn't until i almost got squashed under a Japanese guy trying to sit on me that i fully realized this is one of the unwritten rules that everybody are expected to follow xD
by Katarina : Feb 13,2010
Fulya and Katarina>
So you've both know the Japanese train!
It's too bad that you didn't get to shop for souvenirs at the airport, Fulya. But I hope you had a good time.
Katrina>What you have noticed about trading seats is totally right. Yes, people switch seats when friends or mother and kid does not get to sit next to each other.
by Manababy : Feb 17,2010