Writer sharing about what to do's and don'ts in Japan.
Let us be kind to each other regardless race and religion.
May we be rewarded for all our kind deeds.
“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”
It is an old proverb that is known around the world.
In my country, Indonesia, there is a kind of similar proverb that if it were to be translated into English,
it will become, “Wherever our feet stand on a ground, be always respectful to its sky”.
It means that it is strongly suggested to follow the regulation and common ethics in every area we are
visiting or residing. Therefore, being a foreigner in a country means that we have to respect the ethics
and rules, either it is written or not. In Japan the public facilities requires a common etiquette and rules
whether it is written or not, and one of them is the public transportation such as Trains, Subway, Bus,
First of all, the most common rule is; ‘Do not talk on the phone in public transport’.
Since I am living in Japan, I have almost never seen someone talking on the phone while riding in the
Monorail or another public transport. Everyone is astonishingly quiet. Even when they talk to each other,
they do it in a quiet manner. One time I saw a man who looked so embarrassed picking up his phone and
talked in a very soft voice with his hand covering his mouth. It is because Japanese is very strict in being
respectful to other’s space; in return they want others to respect theirs too. Talking on the phone means
that we will disturb other’s comfort. Actually it is not only applied in public transport but also in almost every
other public space especially elevator.
Secondly, if we carry a backpack especially a huge one, please make sure that we hold it in front of our body.
By doing it we avoid crashing onto others’ body or others’ clothes and properties. As we know personal space
in most of Asian countries including Japan is quite constricted, therefore we should keep a safe distance with
other people. In the public transport we have to be careful not to touch others’ part of body or properties otherwise
we will be considered as a rude person. As each of us is actually a “representative “of our country, it is better not
to make local people think that people from our country have no manner.
The next unwritten rule is still connected to the common ethic of “respecting others’ space”.
In Japan, we almost never find stranger who sits very close to each other in any public transport.
At least there’d be a 5 cm space between a person to another. Japanese mostly choose to stand rather than sitting
so close to other person (except for family and close friends). I think it is a good idea to reserve small space in between
passengers because it enables us to avoid unnecessary problem and some misunderstanding.
For example if you are a man sitting right beside a woman, an accidental light-touch might be perceived wrongly.
How about the “Do’s” in Japan’s public transportation?
I bet it is almost the same in every country, with some different degrees of appliance. Japanese is very discipline in
making neat queues in front of the gate of Train/Bus/Monorail. When the train is arrived, they will move slightly to the
edge of the door to make ways for people who get off the train. So we better do that in a proper way too.
Be patient and be discipline.
Another one is giving seat to other person who is in more need of a seat such as the elderly people, mothers with toddlers,
pregnant women or a handicapped person. How do you know if a woman is pregnant?
Japanese usually wear a pregnancy badge like this picture, so we can reserve a seat for them.
Those are few of written and unwritten rules and etiquette while riding on Japan’s public transport.
Be glad to embrace the difference and be excited to new things so we will be able to grasp other implicit rules in a country, including Japan.
●Post by Paramita Khairan●