We all know that when you visit or live in Japan, they are many social codes that you need to follow. But even with the best efforts, you may (unintentionally) break some of these rules. Therefore, it’s important to know what is considered “NOT TO DO” in Japan!
A lot of these rules and social codes actually concerns the train!
At the end of 2021, a survey was conducted by the Japan Private Railway Association to rank the most annoying behaviours people experienced in trains in Japan. More than 2000 people participated in the survey and the results are available below (top 10).
Japanese people are notorious to avoid expressing their feelings so it’s really interesting to discover what they really think via this survey
10. Eating and drinking in crowded carriages 11.6%
This is usually considered a “bad behaviour” even when the train cars are empty. But when the train is full, we can all understand what it’s not suitable to eat or drink during the ride. This one is actually increasing comparing to last year (14th place in 2020).
9. Sound leaking from headphones 16.3%
The technology is trying to improve when it comes to sound leakage but a lot of people are still complaining about hearing the music of other passengers. This behaviour is slightly down comparing to last year (from 8th to 9th).
8. Riding in a drunken state 16.9%
This one is a classic! During the weekend or late at night, we can see few people struggling to stand up in Tokyo’s metro for example. This Instagram account is actually showing this kind of behaviour in a funny way.
View this post on Instagram
But when some can be amused by that, 16.9% of the voters consider this as disturbing.
7. Leaving garbage behind, like empty cans, etc. 18.3%
Well, this is probably valid in any country. You should not leave your trash in the train. What we often find left in trains is usually empty bottles, empty cans and plastic bags.
6. The way people hold/place their luggage 19.0%
Well, this one is a bit surprising but what we think people are talking about here is specially big backpacks. Indeed, the train etiquette in Japan recommends that you keep your backpack in front of you to avoid troubling people behind you.
5. Smartphone use (walking with smartphones, using them in congested areas, etc.) 21.0%
We enter now the top 5 with the usage of your smartphone in the trains or stations. The problem here is not the phone itself but some people tend to use it while walking. And because they are not looking in front of them, they usually walk slowly and they may also hit someone while walking.
4. Coughing and sneezing with no consideration for surroundings 27.2%
This one is a bit surprising as we didn’t know that it was very important for Japanese people but the corona pandemic may be one of the reason why it’s at the 4th place!
3. Manners when boarding and alighting (obstructing the door, etc.) 29.8%
I thought obstructing the doors and push to enter the train carriage was “acceptable” but apparently, people really hate it. And we can understand why! It usually delays the train and everyone feels so “compressed” inside the car.
2. The way people sit in their seat (sleeping on others, squeezing in, leg-spreading, etc.) 37.4%
While I find it cute when someone sleep on my shoulder in the train, most people don’t agree! Physical contacts are usually limited to a minimum in Japan and the train is no exception.
1. Noisy conversation/being a nuisance 39.1%
And the winner is… noisy conversation! Almost 4 participants out of 10 said that it’s a behaviour that they find annoying in the train. It was actually at the second place last year but apparently, more and more people are complaining about it.
This is probably because people want to relax (and sleep) while they are going to work or when they are on their way home.
Thank you for reading this blog post and you can also read these blog post to better understand how to behave in Japan: Things Not To Do In Japan and Ryokan Etiquette.
Notes: The total of the percentages is not equal to 100% as people were actually select more than one behaviour.
Is it true that there is a lot of harassment on trains?
Hello Ihsan, I wouldn’t say a lot but it happens to be honest. One day, I was chatting quietly with a friend and an old Japanese guy came to tell me to “shut up”. lol But this is still rare I guess!