about Japan

Tokyo train etiquette

Tokyo train etiquette

is fucked up.

It’s like this:

  1. NO talking on cellphones*
  2. Position your backpack to your front so you’re not unwittingly whacking people with it.  Place briefcases & cumbersome bags on the racks above the seats (if you can reach them)
  3. NO eating
  4. NO drinking
  5. No loud convos
  6. Guys should put their hands where we can see ’em°
  7. Don’t cross your legsª
  8. Give up your seat to: old people, pregnant women, hurt folks
  9.  WAIT in an orderly line, just wait until everyone has gotten off before getting on
  10. Tetris your position so you’re not rudely pushing past people when it’s your stop.  Even if it’s sofuckingcrowded you didn’t know it was possible for ten people to push into you at once, bruising your ribs in the process¹
  11. TURN OFF your damn cellphone
  12. God forbid you touch someone

So I’m running late but I’m on a train which makes me debate: do I suffer the wrath of my boss (for not calling and giving a heads-up) or the multiple death stares of the general public?  I choose the former.  Thrice.  I get that this is probably just plain dumb on my part but people on trains are scary, silent bullies.  I’d rather my boss think me deeply imperfect and unprofessional because open hostility just isn’t my bag I’m mental like that. 

° Otherwise you could be accused of feeling up some cute Japanese girl and she will embarrass the fuck out of you.  Also, silencing the shutter sound is not an option on ALL cellphones sold in Japan.  Because men like to take panty shots on trains.

ª Built-like-a-bouncer Tokyoite told me: “It makes me VERY angry.  I might trip over your feet.”  Yikes, just talking about it makes this dude pop forehead veins and see red.  When I say, “Oops.  I’ve totally done this,” it makes his eyes bulge something scary at me.  

¹ Good luck keeping your hands in the air, guys.  

♥ I horrified the crap out of a 40-50 year-old businessman when I accidentally slammed into him during a particularly jerky ride.  I apologized but his unflinching face told me I sure as hell wasn’t forgiven.

Tokyo paradox #78:
No eating or drinking on trains but retching and pissing happens on the regular.
I’ve stepped over it and sat in it.

P.S. If you’re a foreigner most infractions are forgiven.


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