Japan Train Etiquette
Guidelines to travel by train
An overview of some of Japan's public transportation etiquette that might differ from that in your own country. Explore Japan by train with your Japan Rail Pass - available in 7, 14, and 21 days passes
Once your JR Pass is in your hands, nearly all of the railways of Japan awaits you.
You will find traveling by train incredibly quiet, fluid, and well-organised. To achieve this, passengers follow several rules of etiquette such as queuing and special seats…
An overview of the rules of Japan trains.
Specially designated cars and seats
Try to pay attention to signs and surroundings. Nowadays, many Japanese trains have a special women-only car, marked on both the train and the platform with a pink sign.
Additionally, some trains also have the first car designated as an "electronics off" car, where you're expected to power off your cell phone. In theory, these cars were created for the elderly who worry about interference with their pacemakers.
If you're worried about offending someone (the aging Japanese crowd considers themselves tough and not in need of a seat!), standing up, say "dozo" and then move a few paces away so that they don't feel the need to refuse.
Mobile phones and chatter
Make sure that your mobile phone is set on "silent mode," or vibrate, when you are traveling on public transportation.
On trains and subways, never talk on your cell phone! It's extremely bad manners in Japan.
Also, you'll find that most Japanese people do not talk loudly on the train. It's a good idea to follow their example and keep loud conversation to a minimum.
Commuters on Japanese transportation are pretty strict about getting on and off the train. There are markings on the platforms to show where the doors will be and how to line up two by two as your wait.
Once the train has arrived, the line will split to either side of the doors to allow passengers to get off the train.
No more personal space...
Japanese trains famously get very, very crowded at times. Because it is a small island with a large population, in some situations, the ideal amount of personal space gets thrown out the window.
When needed, be prepared to cram into seats or aisles like sardines. If you're traveling on a packed train late at night, don't be surprised if a particularly exhausted salaryman uses your shoulder as a pillow!