Subway manner violations that New Yorkers should learn to avoid from the Japanese

Posted on by Jin

Tokyo train manner poster

Last week, a video of a boy holding the train doors open to let in a friend was posted on Youtube Japan and garnered a passionate outcry from Japanese netizens. Viewers commented vehemently against his train manners with vitriols ranging from “this kid should be arrested” to “people like this should never ride trains.” The response attests to how internalized train manners are for Japanese people.

Living in New York City, I witness this particular train behavior and far more egregious ones every day. So, today, I will like to discuss the top 5 worst train crimes committed by New Yorkers that Japanese manners could fix.

1. Standing in front of opening doors (both inside the train and outside)

Japanese manner:

  • Stand to the side of the door if you’re outside the train.
  • Get out of the vicinity of the door if you’re in the train. Step out of the train momentarily if you cannot get away from the vicinity of the door. Let those people who stepped out get back in first.

2. Not moving into the middle of the train

Japanese manner:

  • The moment a train stops, check to see if there is a large crowd that needs to get in
  • Step towards the middle of the train as much as you can. Your shoulder may touch your neighbor – it’s not gross
  • The width of the train accommodates two people standing back to back (sometimes even three)

3. Eating

Japanese manner:

  • Never, ever eat on the train – you may spill food, cause stenches, and at worst, cause someone to have an allergic reaction
  • Especially not spaghetti (link to video)

4. Taking up two seats or using too much legroom – i.e., using more space than necessary

Japanese manner:

  • Don’t slouch
  • Tuck in your feet
  • Don’t spread your legs
  • Bags should be on your legs in front of you

5. Wearing a backpack

Japanese manner:

  • By having the backpack on your back, you may be inadvertently shoving a bag in someone’s face. Keep it near your feet and in front of you. Plus, it’s just safer that way for you.

Special mentions

  • Littering – So obvious, yet New Yorkers are always amazed at the rats on the tracks
  • Not giving up seats to the elderly, pregnant, or handicapped (New Yorkers are actually pretty good at avoiding this from my experience)
  • Blocking pathways or ticket gates. To the MTA: you should be responsible for regulating traffic flow! Designate which side of the tunnel to walk. Designate which gates are for entering/exiting

In the end, New Yorkers are smart enough to realize these crimes (and usually the solution as well). They are quick to give a glaring look at an annoying behavior of another passenger. The biggest problem with New Yorkers is their inability to notice themselves committing the very crimes they denounce others for.


1 comments for Subway manner violations that New Yorkers should learn to avoid from the Japanese

  1. With the possible exception of eating on the train, all New Yorkers are aware of these rules, and nearly all New Yorkers follow them.

    The people who don’t are generally asshole teenagers, tourists who don’t know any better, or demonstrably self-absorbed jerks who think that rules don’t apply to them.

    The difference between Tokyo and NYC transit etiquette isn’t an awareness of the rules — it’s a difference in culture, particularly with regards to feelings about social responsibility and shame.

    The people who will read this article and care about what it has to say are the same people who are already trying to be good citizens. The jerks aren’t paying attention in the first place — that’s what makes them jerks. And because we don’t have such a strong and all-present system of jerk-shaming in this country, those jerks get to blithely go about their business without worrying about the impact they have on other people, with no consequences aside from the occasional dirty look.

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