Trivia: Which of these are unwritten rules of etiquette on a Japanese train?

Mar 30, 2020


The hardest cultural etiquettes to pick up on are the ones where there are unwritten rules. When riding the train, which of the following are unacceptable (select all that apply)?

a) Eating

b) Drinking out of a can

c) Chatting loudly

d) Making a call on your phone

e) Texting

f) Applying makeup

g) Wearing a backpack

h) Sitting in a priority seat


All of these are unacceptable except for e) texting and h) sitting in a priority seat. You can sit in a priority seat as long as there are no elderly, injured, or pregnant people who need it.

Out of all of these you might be wondering about b) drinking out of a can, f) applying makeup and g) wearing a backpack. It’s acceptable to drink on the train as long as there is a lid or cap on your beverage to avoid spilling. In general, it is considered impolite to apply makeup in a public setting and women typically go to station bathrooms instead. As for the backpack, you can of course be carrying one but the point is that you don’t want to wear it on the train and prevent people from trying to get around behind you or bump into people on accident. If you have a backpack, take it off and either stow it on the shelf above the seating area or place it on the floor between your legs.

Are any of these unwritten etiquettes ones you weren’t aware of?

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