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Things You Want To Know Before Taking A Train In Japan

Like people 'When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do', we do like Japanese people do when in Japan! In this article, we will learn about the rules and manners you need to know before taking a train in Japan. Read more to learn about smoking and phone usage restrictions on trains, as well as other etiquettes and useful information to know such as about Women Only Cart and Priority Seats.

Just like any form of transportation, trains have their own etiquette to follow. As Japan is a nation that takes manners quite seriously, be sure to act accordingly.

Getting on board

When getting ready to board, make sure to get in line and do not rush onto the train. It is very easy for accidents to happen if people rush on or off the train. To know where to start forming the line, usually, there are signs on the platform floor.

Women Only Cart (weekdays)

Starting in 2001, in response to the rapid increase in the number of reported groping activities, Keio Line introduced this back into practice. It has been a success ever since, and now most of the express trains that run between major cities have a women-only designated cart. The history of women-only designated carts actually goes back to before world war 2, according to Wikipedia.

Needless to say, be sure not to enter these if you are a male passenger. The cars will be marked with a pink sign that says: “Women Only.”


The sign can be found along the accessible yellow dotted blocks. This pink sign with cute design is for women only carts available on Super Express (特急), Commuters Express (通勤特急), and on Regular Express (急行) during the weekdays. (Excludes holidays)

When you’re on board

About Priority Seats

Regular commuter trains without assigned seats have “priority seats” that will usually be on the far left or right side of cars. These are meant for the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women, and women with small children. You are allowed to sit in these seats when no one is using them, but it is imperative to give them up when necessary.


On a reclining seat

If you are riding on a train that has reclining seats, be mindful of the person behind you when moving back. When getting off the train, return your seat to its original position.

About smoking while you’re on board

Smoking is prohibited on almost all trains in Japan. Electronic ciggerette is also prohibited.
Although all Sanyo Shinkansen offers only Non-Smoking seats; however, type N700 / N500 has smoking rooms available on the train. Please check beforehand about the smoking room, and please do not smoke on your seat.

For more information about JR West

About Phone Usage While You’re on Board

Perhaps the most important manner of all is how to properly use your phone. Set it to silent at all times and do not talk on the phone around others. If the phone call is an emergency, go to the area between passenger cars or make it quick while talking quietly.

By following this proper etiquette, you will blend in and not cause any disturbances while you ride trains in Japan.