Breach of etiquettes while riding subway trains in Tokyo

I was told during a conversation by a Japanese friend that one of the survey conducted by Association of Japanese private railways revealed that noise is the biggest nuisance passengers get annoyed most. True! Recently everybody have mobile and almost all the time except sleeping it is the only companion for most people.

Use of mobile phone near priority seats is prohibited in Tokyo subway trains. Yes, the words written in the trains behind the priority seats could be read like this; “Please turn off the mobile phone near priority seat” This is considered as the manner while travelling in subway trains in Tokyo. Priority seats are reserved for aged people, physically challenged, pregnant women and lady passengers with babies. Priority seats or courtesy seats can be found at the end of each car.

Some of the public behaviors that attracted and impressed me in Japan are discipline, obedience to the law and regulations and cleanliness. Recently (Saikin in Japanese) I have been getting negative blows to my impression by seeing the public behavior, I must admit very frankly. Still I do praise the pin drop silence at subway trains. The self discipline is much higher than that in any other countries that I have seen. The very often noticed bad manner is the making-up of some of the J-girls. It is extremely a public nuisance especially to those sitting near to them. Applying make up while riding in the train is one of the biggest breaches of rail etiquettes, though it is written well in Japanese to please do it at home.

A good percentage of train passengers dwell in to their own world with their handsets. The handsets will be switched to manner mode. This is also one of the notices written inside the train with a symbol of mobile phone. Switch the mobile into manner mode is widely practiced in Japan while riding subway trains. “Please set your mobile phone to silent mode and refrain from making calls” is the words written inside the trains. Putting the mobile phone mode in to silent or manner mode is called ‘maanaa-modo” in Japanese language. It is written in Katakana scripts. Still some of the girls especially will be using their handsets though they occupy the priority seats. It is less offensive than turning the subway trains their beauty saloons!

Also, recent experiences force me to think there is a considerable deterioration in the cleanliness in the subway’s public places. The old and middle old generation tempts to blame the new generation’s growing ‘carelessness’ attitude, while some blames it on the recent economic troubles. The truth may be somewhere in between, but still there is considerable effort from the authorities to keep the roads and public places clean which is admirable.

Most often the breaches of manners are practiced by some foreigners too like talking loudly that will annoy the co-passengers and travelling in groups with baby strollers etc. This at one side, some of the friends have shared a peculiar problem of being a target of ‘staring’ by some of the local people while waiting for trains and riding in the trains. This one I feel may not be categorized as discrimination towards foreigners. This could be just out of curiosity. Even I will stare for a moment if I meet a foreigner at my own country. The point of discrimination is on how far the staring goes. After all, some people can not take out their eyes from some objects. Such kinds of people are there in every country and not only limited to Japan, though it is little inconvenience to become an object of staring!


1 thought on “Breach of etiquettes while riding subway trains in Tokyo

  1. The issue of makeup on the train has been a rather troubling one for me for quite a long time.
    It just seems so backwards of the young girls to be doing this.
    I think the one that pushed me over the edge was the night I watched a girl pull a curling iron (battery operated) out of her bag and start curling her hair.

    But thank you for this~
    You may have inspired my next blog!

    Norm Nakamura
    Japan Lifestyle Consulting

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