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A Visitor’s Guide to Public Transportation Courtesy in Tokyo

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Visiting Tokyo requires some patience for navigating through a complex train and subway system, but once you figure it out, it’s actually very orderly. With the upcoming 2020 Olympics, Tokyo has been preparing to host the international crowd with directions and signage printed in English. This should help visitors, but we also want to hand out some advice on how to be a considerate traveler, which is important in Japanese culture.

Here’s what to know before you go to Tokyo:

Don’t block escalator traffic. One side of the escalator should be open for those who wish to rush up or down the stairs. If you’re standing still, keep to the left side in Tokyo, and stand on the right side in Osaka. Don’t ask me why it’s different, but the most important piece to remember is DO NOT block the side where people are walking/running up the steps!

Be patient, not pushy. The locals know to orderly stand in line before the yellow lines as they await their train. Follow their lead. Japanese trains arrive every few minutes, so even if you miss one, you will most likely be able to catch one soon after. Do not get pushy or cut in line.

Follow train etiquette. Don’t block the path for those who are getting off the train. Let them come off first before getting on the train.

Be quiet. Keeping quiet on the train is important etiquette so you should not engage in a loud conversation. Don’t talk on the phone. It’s better yet to sit silent while you’re on the train.

No drinking or eating. You will notice how clean it is in Tokyo. People don’t litter in the streets or the trains, and it’s considered rude to eat on commuter trains and subways. If you’re on the express trains and bullet trains, you will have tables where it’s okay to consume your food and drink.

Be seated properly. Don’t spread your legs, cross your legs, or leave your bag on the seat next to you. Seating space is limited so be sure to share it with others!
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Commented by Gerald Heuer
Posted at 2018-05-25 14:19

And if you leave something on the train/bus, it will be turned in to the police or transportation company, and that includes money.

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