Thursday, July 19, 2007


Escalator, Tokyo, Japan
We prefer rules, or manners: for example, when I get on elevator with some of my bosses at an office building, it is quite natural that I stand in front of operation buttons, close to the door. When I get on taxi with two of my bosses, I will sit on front passenger seat and the bosses sit on the back of the car. When I have a dinner with a few of my bosses and our customers in a traditional Japanese room with tatami mat and tokonoma, the main alcove, my bosses will be very angry with me if I sit just in front of the alcove. It is quite natural that I sit on a tatami just close to the entrance of the room.

By the way, people in Tokyo stand on the left side when they take an escalator. The right side is a space for those who are in a hurry and would like to walk up or down the escalator. Surprisingly, people in Osaka, the second largest city in Japan, do the opposite. They stand on the right side. I don't know why... Some people in Nagoya, the third largest city and located between Tokyo and Osaka, stand on the right, and the others in Nagoya do on the left side. So on which side do you stand when you get on escalator?? My answer is that you have a choice. I think it is best for you to follow person ahead of you to keep a space for people in a hurry.

Without rules, only a little care and attention to the others and some imagination will work well and be enough, I suppose.


At 12:10 AM, Blogger lv2scpbk said...

The proper way for us, is to stand on the right and let it open for the people on the left who are in a hurry. Although, some people do not follow the rules no matter what. Sometimes people just feel they must be the only ones and won't move for anyone.

At 2:16 AM, Blogger travelphilippines said...

my friend say that japanese are mong the most organize and respectfull in the world. she have been to japan twice nagoya and tokyo. i havent been there but im always amazed by japanese culture and tradition hope i can visit someday. and about the escalator question i dont stand in there i walk seems like im always in a hurry hehe.

At 3:04 AM, Blogger tornados28 said...

This is one of the things I like about Japan, that people stand to one side on the escalator to let people pass. Unfortunately in America, most people do not stand to one side and they block the escalator preventing people from passing.

At 2:07 PM, Blogger Coltrane_lives said...

Good information to know, Macky. Thanks. I think we could be more considerate in the States regarding this.

At 2:24 PM, Anonymous raquel said...

Hi Macky,

Here in Spain people stand on the right, and "leave" the left available to anyone that be in a hurry. I said "leave", because "Spain is different", and sometimes it doesn`t happend, and people stand where they want.
But, I have a question, why on the left and not on the right??. I notice that you also drive on left, like British!!!.

The precept that you use is a good point, in fact here in Spain we have a said: " a donde fueras has lo que vieras", "Where you go, make what you see", and it is true , it`s works. =O)).

Have a nice day!!!

At 9:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should try something in japan : choose an allmost empty elevator, and then, take the "fast side" and stay there.
You will se that people will follow you, and the side will be changed for this elevator.

It works in Fukuoka, but people seems to change on their own sometimes in this city.

At 7:57 AM, Blogger macky said...

Thank you for the usuful and interesting information, everyone!!

When I have been in London, they stand on the left like Tokyo. Tokyo took over the British way and Osaka took over the US way, didn't they?? Which side people stand on at the elevator seems to relate to which side people drive on the street.

Fukuoka way looks rather flexible. thanks you for the info:-)

At 11:36 AM, Blogger Ann said...

That is such an interesting sight. So orderly! We don't have escalators in Mobay. But if they did, Jamaicans, famous for our indiscipline, would be all over the escalator like they are in the USA! :-(

When I am in the States or in Europe though I stand on the same side as the person in front of me.

At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, in what other ways japanes are respectfull to each other like this? For example in Brazil, we have to wait in line for banking stuff, if one don't want to use internet banking, and people complain a lot, even to people they have never seen before and in traffic it's amazing how rude the most nice person can get. At the escalators theres no rules for leting people pass by.
I hope we in Brazil grow to a more civil and repectfull society, but I love my country and people anyway.
Best regards from São Paulo, Brazil


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