Railway rules - “Mutual Cooperation Culture” in Japanese commuter trains
Rush hours every morning during the week!
Rush hours are extreme in Tokyo as well as Japan's other major cities. In order to make this brutal moment of every day less stressful, both commuters and train companies are making invisible efforts.
During the morning rush hours, people will get in line and stand in a queue. They will get on trains and flow into the trains as people inside get off. Japanese people are very familiar with the command “Mae ni Narae” (Line up arms length” or “FALL IN”) from our elementary school days. One of the virtues derived from Japanese culture, “alignment” is reflected in these good line formation culture. The weekday rush hours peak between 8am and 9am in the morning. People are inured to hardship during these hours. No one is talking. It’s an absolute silence, however people can live in each of their own worlds with smartphones and cell phones in their hands nowadays and they remain silent until they get off at their own stations.
Train companies offers a variety of services for comfort:
1. Japanese railways are among the most punctual in the world. When trains are delayed even for just a minute, the conductor makes an announcement or posting a notice on display apologizing for the delay. Train announcement can be sometimes too much and annoying because they repeat their apologies over and over.
2. An electronic display in the train tells next stop in other languages than Japanese such as English and Chinese. They also display where the train is located in the train map, which is very convenient.
3. Temperature and ventilation are well controlled in trains. During winter, they heat up train seats and you can feel a warm air around your legs.
4. PASMO and SUICA card system allow people to pass through a ticket gate so quickly today.
5. Train slings have a variety of lengths from short to long one. People hold onto slings in order not to fall over in case of emergency stop.
6. Subway stations are equipped with platform screen doors which help to prevent drunken people’s accidental falls off the platform onto the lower track area. They open and close once trains arrive at platforms.
7. Some platforms have free drinking fountains and most of them have vending machines.
8. A lot of statins in Tokyo displays several user-friendly route maps on the wall that tell you where to get off or how to transfer in order to get your destination, these are very helpful.
If you can, experience train rush hour in Japan once by yourself! :-)