Crowded Trains

Japanese people have some strange unwritten, unspoken rules when it comes to riding the train.

~When filling the vacant seats of a train, you should never sit down directly next to someone if you don’t have to.But this rule doesn’t apply to rush hour, or other popular commute times, say 9 at night.

~If there does happen to be a vacant spot, you should only sit there if you are the same gender as the person you plan on sitting down next to. Now, I think that men are more prone to break this rule and sit down next a woman. But it is a rare occasion to see a woman sit down next to a man, unless that girl is a foreigner like myself. I have no compunction in sitting next to a guy if my feet are tired from my heels.

~If you don’t want someone sitting next to you, try to take up two spaces by putting your bag next to you, or something else that people cant easily sit next to. Even if you occupy only a part of the seat next to you, there is only a ten percent chance that someone will overcome their inherently polite Japanese nature to make you move your belongings.

Inevitably, all this leads to trains seeming much more crowded than they actually are. I admit that I am even guilty of succumbing to the above rules on more than one occasion, especially the first one. Thus a surplus of people ending up crowding in the open area around the door and never move to the more central parts of the train. But that is one sight that I just cannot comprehend. I love seeing a train stop, noting the very crowded, almost sardine can-like appearance of the door area, then looking over and noticing that the walkways where the seats are, are completely vacant. Why would you allow yourself to be squished like that if you didnt have to be? I take great delight in pushing past all those people and then lounging in the middle with room to dance if I so chose.

During the most crowded train times, those people in the doorways stubbornly refuse to move and make space for the wave of people waiting to get on at the next stop. I have seen people taking up the room of two people reading newspapers, mailing on their phones, playing their DSs on super crowded trains while I myself was making like a plank and trying desperately not to brush into the person next to me. Because whatever else happens on the train, you should definitely not touch anyone else, no matter how crowded it is! That is the cardinal sin on train riding, right along with making or receiving a call.

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