Oddly Enough

Quiet please! Noise irks Japan's commuters the most

TOKYO (Reuters) - Taking the train in Japan and want to avoid annoying fellow passengers? Keep conversation to a whisper, turn down your iPod and put your cellphone on vibration mode, a recent survey by the railway association showed.

People walk towards a train station in Tokyo August 4, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer

Many foreigners who ride on Japan’s vast network of subways and commuter trains complain about the pushing and shoving that accompanies getting into the train and the reluctance to give up seats for senior citizens and pregnant women.

But for Japanese commuters, noise is the biggest issue, with loud conversation and music from headphones the top two offenders and cellphone ringtones in fourth place, the survey by the Association of Japanese Private Railways showed.

Applying make-up ranked as the sixth-biggest breach of rail etiquette, worse than being drunken, which at number 9 just edged out bringing strollers onto crowded trains.

Here are the top 10 examples of bad rail manners according to the association’s online survey, with responses from about 4,200 people:

1. Noisy conversation, horsing around

2. Music from headphones

3. The way passengers sit

4. Cellphone ringtones and talking on phones

5. Pushing, shoving when getting on and off trains

6. Applying make-up

7. Littering

8. Sitting on the floor of the train

9. Riding the train drunk

10. Riding a crowded train with a child in a stroller

Writing by Chris Gallagher, editing by Miral Fahmy