Japanese culture

Survive the Rush Hour on Train | Japan Guide

The rush hour in Japan is so exciting. People often compare it to being sardines in a can. You have to study how to win and survive in rush hour! Here, we introduce some useful tips!


If you ever experienced the rush hour in a big city, then you know what we are talking about. It is CROWDED. But now imagine a city of 13 million people – Tokyo. It is A LOT. Now think about this, if you include all the people who commute into Tokyo that number goes up to more than 30 million people. Tokyo is the busiest metropolitan place in the whole world. All of them riding trains to get to where they need to go.


Just like any other city, there are certain times when everyone is traveling, this is the rush hour. It usually is on weekdays between 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM and between 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM. If it is possible, I would suggest not using the trains around these times. However, I know this is not always possible. But after reading this article, I am sure you will survive the Tokyo rush hour.


First, plan your route. Japanese public transportation really is second to none. However there are times when there are delays and accidents. It is always important to have a back up plan. Any sort of delay during the rush hour will result in EXTREMELY crowded trains. Even though Japanese train maps are really complicated, there are always multiple ways to get to your destination. So make sure you have that back up plan.


Manners are your best friend. If you have seen a crowded platform in Japan, you notice everyone lines up properly. Make sure you follow the line and remember this key word “Sumimasen”. This means “Sorry” or “Excuse me”. If you have to squeeze yourself into a packed train car, make sure to mumble this word. Although the train may look full, you never know until you try. You will be surprised how many people can fit. (I mean “fit” like puzzle pieces.)


Great, you made it on! Make sure you find something to hold on to. If you are standing by the door (pushed against it), then you are fine. Remember that manners are your best friend? The reason why Japanese trains work so well is because everyone follows the rules. So pay attention to busy stations like Shinagawa, Osaki, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Tokyo, a lot of people get off. This means if you are near the door, you should step out and give them room. But this next step is crucial! Make sure you are first in line, do not go back to the line. You can just simply wait by the door. Once everyone gets off, now is your chance to get a good spot! But do not run or push.


Pay attention to priority seats and be conscientious to those around you. If you see elderly passengers, please kindly give up your seat to them. Also, if you see a woman with a round tag on her purse (refer the picture below), give your seat to her because that means she is pregnant.

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I want you to enjoy your commute or train ride, but remember everyone else is trying to survive that same train ride. So be polite and enjoy the rush hour in Tokyo. It will be an unique experience.