9 things you need to know when you take a public transportation in Japan | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

9 things you need to know when you take a public transportation in Japan

By Guidable Writers Sep 4, 2017

This post is also available in: Spanish

If you live in a big city in Japan, you do not have to worry about transportation. Cities have their own transportation system such as buses, trains, and metros, therefore, you might tell some different etiquettes from your country. I’m going to show you the 9 points you must be aware on public transportation.


  1. Do not rush onto trains!

Some of you must have seen that people run from the stairs to the platform to get on the train right before the train leaves. As you can imagine, it is dangerous. You don’t need to hurry since the train comes in a minute for example in Tokyo. So, do not take a risk to get injured but wait for another one in 10 minutes. Japanese trains usually arrive on time.

  1. No food on the trains and buses

Some of you reading this article might have a hard time to get up in the early morning, however, you are not allowed to eat onigiri, bread or any kinds of food which makes noise or smells on public transportation except for Shinkansen (the bullet train). Finish your food on the platform beforehand.

I understand how hard it is to get of the bed, but try to get up with time to spare.


  1. Do not speak loud

Public transportation is opened for everyone. That is why you will need to care of others, and always keep “Omotenashi” in your mind. Omotenashi needs to be practiced in a daily life if you stay in Japan. Simply you can just think about what you should do in order not to make others feel bad. Imagine, if you feel tired, you might not want to hear someone screams or laughs in a super loud voice. Especially Japanese people are very sensitive with sounds from other people. It is not a good idea to speak out loud inside of public transportation.


  1. Do not make a phone call while you take in public transportation

Calling someone should not be done inside of any public transportation.

Not everyone wants to hear your private conversation in a closed space and it’s the same as the rule of not to talk loud on the train.


  1. Cooperate each other with sense of sharing

When a train is crowded in a rush hour, there must be some people who want to sit, but there is no space. Sometimes it cannot be helped if it is with full of people in a carriage, however, you might be careful weather you use an extra space with your bag or sometimes with yourself. When you sit on public transportation, make sure if there is no wasted space around you. Some people really need to have those space.


  1. Offer your seats

Offering your seats to someone who needs is a common thing in the world, and of course, Japan is not an exception. It is normal to offer your seats to people who are elderly, pregnancy, injured, or staying with babies. There is a priority seat on a train or bus, but sometimes, those seats are also taken by others, so someone need to give up their seats voluntarily. Remember that Japanese people are too shy to ask fro seats, so if you find those people, please let them have a seat.


  1. Be aware of your belongings

If you have some huge luggage, you have to know that you might be in someone’s way. This is the same as when you take a train or metro. You will find some spaces on top of the seat which you can put your baggage. Or put your baggage on your lap if you have a backpack, but don’t forget to take them with you when you get off the train!


  1. Watch out your umbrella

When it rains, you tend to choose public transportation instead of walking. Then, make sure to fold your umbrella before getting on so that you don’t disturb others with rain drops. Nobody wants to get wet from others’ umbrella.


  1. Stay in line and wait others getting off the train

This topic is frequently discussed in Japan. Everyone wants to take a seat and rush onto the train but make sure to stay in line before everyone getting off the train.



When you take public transportation in Japan, you will notice many posters/signs quoting some cautions about how you should behave in public transportation. It must be interesting for you if you see the designs and find any differences from your custom which is normal in your country. Be aware that the Japanese type of etiquette, and live comfortable in Japan!