Trivia: What should you do if you're the first person to get into an elevator in Japan?

Nov 11, 2019


What should you do if you’re the first person to get into an elevator?

a) Stand in the back of the elevator to avoid blocking the doors and allow more people to flow in

b) Hit the “close” button rapidly to prevent more people from entering the elevator.

c) Bow to all new passengers entering the elevator to welcome them.

d) Become the elevator operator who opens and closes the doors and selects floors.



The answer is d) Become the elevator operator who opens and closes the doors and selects floors.

Elevator etiquette is pretty interesting in Japan. In general, the first person who enters an elevator becomes the elevator operator. If this is you, your responsibilities are to hold the doors open until all people waiting have entered, close the elevator, and press the floors requested by other passengers. Even if the elevator operator was the first one onto the elevator, they are usually the last person to leave because they hold the doors open. So if you’re in a hurry to get on an off the elevator, you might want to avoid becoming the elevator operator.

In some department stores, you will see department staff hired specifically for operating the elevator. Personally, I’ve seen this less and less over the years, but it’s not uncommon to see these staff especially during peak shopping hours.

In business settings, the youngest person within a company becomes the operator. Even if someone is already operating the elevator when a younger staff enters, that younger staff has to offer to take over operating the elevator. For business meetings between companies, the host of the meeting becomes the elevator operator.

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