A First-Timer’s Guide to Riding Trains in Japan

Know the do's and don'ts of riding the train.

In Japan, many locals and tourists take the train to get to their destination. It’s one of the most popular means of traveling around the country.

However, there is a set of rules that people have to follow when riding them.

To avoid inconveniencing other passengers and committing a social blunder, you can follow our step-by-step guide below.

Getting on the escalator

Before riding the train, passengers usually have to ride the escalators to get to the platform. In Japan, the escalators are meant both for people to stand on and pass through.

The rules are pretty simple: Stand on one side and leave the other side open for people to pass through. Where you’ll stand will heavily depend on the location. In the Kanto area, for example, people stand on the left. On the other hand, the Kansai area requires people to stand on the right. This can get confusing if you’re traveling interstate.

The best way to make sure that you’re standing on the right side is to simply just follow the person in front of you.

Lining up for the train

Upon getting off the escalator, the next thing you’ll have to do is to line up for the train. In Japan, people line up on the sides of the train doors. This is so that the other passengers may easily get off the trains. It is only until everyone has exited when you can go in.

Women-only car

When lining up for a train, male passengers must always make sure that they’re not lining up at the women-only car. They can only use these cars either after 9 a.m. or depending on the schedule written on the sign. Make it a point to look out for these signs before riding the train to avoid any unwanted embarrassment.

Getting inside the train

The space near the doors usually crowds up easily. When going inside the train, make sure to go to the center of the car for a safe and comfortable ride.  

Train manners

When inside the train, you must refrain from talking on the phone. You should also make sure that your phone is set on silent mode. This is because Japanese people are sensitive about their personal space and don’t want to disturb nor be disturbed.

While talking to your friends inside the train might be forgiven to a certain degree, this behavior is still frowned upon. Inside the train, you must avoid talking loudly, or if possible, refrain from talking at all.  


Priority seats

Priority seats inside the train are reserved for the elderly, disabled, and pregnant passengers. If you happen to be seated in this area, make sure that you give up your seat for priority passengers entering the train.

Exiting the train

When exiting a crowded train, saying
sumimasen (Excuse me) is considered polite and will let the people in front of you know that you are exiting the train.

Riding trains in Japan is a cultural experience in itself. Before riding one, make sure that you follow these do’s and don’ts to make your travel experience in Japan a sweet ride!

Provided by Karaksa Media Partner (16 February 2019)

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