“Why I Don’t Give Up My Seat On The Train”

After one particularly controversial Japanese blog post last week, Japanese Twitter was blazing up (炎上/えんじょう) with tweets of anger and support. The topic? Trains. The controversy? “The reason I don’t give up my seat on the train.”

The argument wasn’t as simple as the title lets on. Let’s start with the whole idea of giving up your seat. Of course, there’s “priority seating,” and you absolutely should give up your seat to any elderly, pregnant, baby-carrying, or injured people. Nobody’s debating that. But, this blog post talks about all seats, not just priority seating, which really puts us in quite the gray area. Do you have to give up your (regular) seat to a pregnant lady? No. Should you? Probably. Will you? Maybe not. It becomes a judgement call, and if you don’t make the right one, you’ll surely be judged by others. There are two points that the blogger (we’ll call him by his id: Kangaetakekka) makes:

  1. Why I don’t always give up my seat to someone on the train.
  2. Why people shouldn’t think badly about others who don’t give up their seats.

While this immediately sounds like some proper S-Class douchebaggery it actually does get a little more complicated than the two points let on. Kangaetakekka has reasons for why he feels this way, and of course many others on the intertubes had words of support and/or words of anger for all of his feels. I’d like to be able to say “oh man, what a jackass!” and then call it a day, but even I can’t bring myself to do that, at least not at 100%. I really do understand where he’s coming from. Let’s go through some of his reasoning. I’ll add my own opinions and thoughts along the way.

“Why I Don’t Give Up My Seat”

crowded train

Photo By Stephen Kelly

So you don’t demonize Kangaetakekka too much right of the bat, I should mention that he does give up his seat to people a lot of the time. He’s not saying that he never gives up his seat on principle, or anything like that.

もちろん、気持ちと体力に余裕のあるときは、席が空いていたって座らないこともよくある。
Of course, when I’m in a good mood and feeling strong, I will often give up my seat for people.

There you have it. Starting off with a positive note for you guys! Let’s now refocus onto how this topic came up in the first place. He didn’t just think it up out of the blue (presumably while sitting down on the train). The thought came to light when his pregnant friend was talking to him about how she was surprised at how often people don’t give up their seats for her. It made Kangaetakekka think for a moment:

友人が妊娠し、誰の目にも明らかなレベルでおなかも出ているのだが、どうやら予想していたほど席を譲ってもらえないらしい。
My friend is pregnant and her stomach is clearly big, but she hasn’t been given a seat as many times as she expected.

若くて健康だし、立っているのがとてもつらいってほどではないらしいのだが、話したことを書いてみる。
She is young and healthy so it’s not hard for her to keep standing up, but I’ll try to write about what we talked about.

Let’s analyze this. To anyone who looked, they could tell that she was pregnant. Why didn’t more people give up their seats for her? Kangaetakekka has some theories. He has three reasons for why people wouldn’t give up their seat for his friend.

1. People May Not Have Realized She Was Pregnant

pregnant

While you could tell she was pregnant if you looked, not everyone would notice a pregnant girl on the train, especially if it’s crowded, I imagine.

恥ずかしながら、僕は彼女と話をするまで、電車に妊婦がいるということをそれほど想定してこなかった。
It’s embarrassing, but I’d never really considered that there could be a pregnant women on a train until she told me.

他人のお腹の大きさなんて普段あまり気にしておらず、爆乳ギャルには一瞬で気づくが、妊婦には気づかないのがむしろ一般的なんじゃないかと思う。
I don’t really care about other people’s stomachs, though I instantly notice girls with big boobs. I assume that most people don’t notice pregnant women.

Big boobs comment aside, I have to be honest with myself and agree with him. Pregnant people on the train don’t really cross my mind either. I’ll notice people with babies. I’ll notice people who are injured. I’ll definitely notice and even look out for the elderly so I can offer them my seat, because, you know, they deserve it. But, pregnant ladies are a group I don’t think of too often, especially on the train, and especially in Japan. Plus (this is my addition), wouldn’t you be worried about accidentally thinking someone’s pregnant then it turns out she wasn’t? I’m ashamed to say that I wouldn’t give up my seat for this fear alone, especially if it’s 100% obvious the lady is pregnant. If someone was obviously pregnant, and I noticed them, I’d certainly offer my seat. Chances are not great that I would notice someone though, which is brought up in point number two.

2. When You Are Sitting, You Have Less Interest In People Around You

inside-the-train

Photo by w00kie

When you sit down on a train, what’s the first thing you do? That’s right, pull out something to do. You’ve won! You’ve got a seat! It’s time to enjoy it and read some manga / catch up with your friends on LINE. What happens when you do this? You suddenly lose interest in the world around you. You notice fewer things and you simply become less aware. It’s not like it’s really your fault, at least not on purpose, but this is point number two of Kangaetakekka.

また、座っていると、立っているときよりもさらに他の客に興味がなくなる。
Second, when I am sitting, I have less interests in other people than when I am standing.

寝るか読書かスマホかみたいな状態では、目の前に大きなお腹があってもそれは気づかない。
While sleeping, reading or on my smart phone, I wouldn’t notice a big belly even if it’s right in front of me.

This, I think, is so true. Unless you’re actively looking around, these sitting-things are going to distract you from noticing someone, even if they’re right in front of you (and especially if they’re not right next to you). Plus the way that Japanese people ignore everything around them on the train is nothing short of incredible. Even if a pregnant lady’s stomach is inches from a Japanese train passenger’s face, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t notice (or pretended not to notice) them there. It’s not that you’re being a bad person. It’s just that you don’t notice things like this once you’ve sat down. I’m guilty of this as well as I get sucked into things the moment I focus in.

3. People Put In Great Efforts To Get A Seat

crowded-train

This is definitely the most controversial point. Kangaetakekka is saying that he often puts in a lot of effort to get a seat, so why should he have to give it up?

他人を押し退けて空席を目指すのではなく、座りやすい駅に住み、比較的空いている電車を選んで乗っている。
I don’t push people away and get a seat, but I chose a house that’s near a station that’s easy to get seats from and choose trains that are comparatively easier to find seats on.

電車を1本見送ることもある。
I even sometimes wait for another train.

それを、なんの努力もせずにあとから乗ってきただけの人に譲るというのは、どうも癪にさわるのだ。
Therefore, after putting in all that effort, I feel irritated giving up my seat to someone who just got on the train.

You can tell this is a bit of a sensitive point for him. He puts in a lot of effort, even purposefully living near a station that will allow him to get a seat more easily, to get a seat. When you work that hard for something, and you make that kind of investment, of course you’re not going to want to give up your seat. It might not be the “correct” thing to do, but I see where he’s coming from here.

I do and have done similar things as well. Back in high school when I was living in Japan and had to ride the train every day, I knew which trains had fewer people on them. I’d shoot for those so I could get myself a seat, sometimes picking the slower trains over the express to guarantee my sitting luxury (even though it would take longer). I also knew which train cars would have less people on them, thus upping my seat-snatching-chances.

In crowded rush-hour trains, I’d search out less crowded lines to get on the train. If I didn’t get a seat, I’d constantly be on the lookout for people looking like they were about to leave. When it comes to getting a seat on a Japanese train, it’s a (very polite) dog-eat-dog-world out there, and you have to be at the top of your game if you want to be able to sit down sometimes.

So, I understand where he’s coming from. Especially if you’re in the city, it’s brutal. And, it’s not just a one-time thing. You do this five, six, maybe seven times a week, two+ times a day. You hone your craft and learn how to get a seat and you work hard for it. Then, someone who didn’t do anything for it gets your seat? Great dishonor.

But, just because I understand all too well where he’s coming from and how he’s feeling, doesn’t mean I don’t think that you shouldn’t give up your seat to someone who needs it. Plus, if you don’t give up your seat you’ll surely be judged by others, which is another one of Kangaetakekka’s worries. While most Tofugu readers probably won’t care about this whole “being judged” thing, it’s a lot like how Irish Catholics are stereotypically supposed to feel huge amounts of guilt all the time. The Japanese have that voice of their mother in their head saying “What would the neighbors think?” / “What would others think?” Especially on trains, it feels like there’s a +12 etiquette bonus that requires you to be on your best behavior. That’s why there are so many posters inside the train teaching good train manners:

bunpei-ginza-train

So, for those of you who are quick to judge those horrible sitting people on the train, Kangaetakekka has some words for you as well. Why you gotta hate on the sitters, man?

Sitters Gotta Sit, Haters Gotta Hate

judgement-train

Photo by Hinata-sennin

Say you’re one of the standers. Ugh, standing! You watch some punk twenty-something-year-old sit idly by as a pregnant lady stands in front of him, looking uncomfortable, in your mind about to give birth at any moment. “Wow, what a terrible person he is,” you think, not even realizing how many times you’ve probably done something very similar on accident. People are quick to judge, and usually negatively. Kangaetakekka wants you to consider that maybe that person’s not a bad person after all (though maybe they are, who knows, is it really your right to judge though?).

何が言いたいかと言うと、座っている人は、性格が悪いから座っているのではなく、座っている事情があるかもしれないということだ。
My point is, people sitting aren’t sitting on the train because they have bad personalities, there might have their own circumstances.

若いくせに座ってパズドラやってる大学生は、バイトでヘトヘトの苦学生かもしれないし、満員電車で化粧をしているOLも、毎日仕事でいびられているかもしれないのだ。
A young working university student playing “Puzzle & Dragons” could be completely exhausted from his part-time job. A female office worker putting on make-up in the train could be getting teased at work.

電車にはいろいろな背景を抱えた人が乗っており、しかもいちいち他人を観察する余裕なんてない。
There are a lot of different people with a lot of different backgrounds riding the train, and they don’t have enough room to consider other people in their mind.

This is where I start to feel like Kangaetakekka has had a previously bad experience with this which set him off to write this blog post. Maybe somebody scolded him. Maybe somebody on the train got angry at him. Whatever it was (or wasn’t), I think he does have a bit of a point. People are too quick to judge other people without really knowing anything about that person. Humans are hard wired to judge the things around them in relation to themselves. We’re all narcissists. You aren’t going to (naturally) think “oh, that person probably had a rough day, they should keep their seat.” That’s like Dalai Lama level thinking. Instead, you and I are going to think: “wth, I want your seat, and if I can’t have it, that old lady should have it instead.” Survival of the fittest, man.

Kangaetakekka ends with one final sentence:

他人には期待せず、自分が譲ったときに自分がいい気分になれればそれでいいじゃないか。
Just don’t expect it from other people. Isn’t it enough to just feel good when you do good things?

Yeah, for sure. You should do good things when you can and feel good when you do it, not having to worry about what other people think. It’d be a much better world if everyone did just this. But, I also think there’s a difference between what’s right and doing what’s right. I don’t think anyone will ever be perfect, and it’s inevitable that you’ll do something wrong and it’s inevitable that people will judge you… so to me, I just feel like everyone should try their best and not worry about who’s judging you and how. The best you can do is the best you can do, right? I think this was partly Kangaetakekka’s point as well.

Of course, a lot of the internet didn’t agree, so they took to the Twitter streets to make their opinions heard. Tweet, tweet, tweet! ♬

The Internets Respond

buscemi-twitter

Finding a seat on the train is something that almost all Japanese people experience. Fighting for seats, giving up seats, and watching people with seats is all a part of daily life. So, Kangaetakekka touched on a few nerves, I think. It’s hard for someone who doesn’t ride a crowded train all the time to understand why people would be getting so upset about this. But, people did get upset. If you search for the article you can see that a decent amount of people linked to and posted their opinions on the article, both for and against the evil / reasonable Kangaetakekka.

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 1.20.58 PM
“Not giving up your seat isn’t evil” … what a sad world.

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 1.18.08 PM
“It’s less tiring if you give up your seat and feel that you did a good thing.”
japanese twitter controversy
“I try to give up my seat, because I believe it’s much cooler than someone who just complains a lot”

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 2.37.50 PM
“If I can’t sit, I’d fall down on my way to work.”

So there you have it. Both sides of the issue, or at least one side and some opinions from me. Especially for those of you who have ridden trains a lot, how do you feel about the topic? Should people give up their spots so readily? I’m guessing there will be some varying opinions here, and I’d love to hear from them.

Either way, I hope you got some interesting insight into the lives of many Japanese people. It’s hard to ride the train. It’s also not that simple. The dance you have to dance to get… and give… a seat is stressful, but it’s one of the things you have to deal with if you’re planning to live in Japan at any point. So, things like giving up your seat can mean a lot, even if it doesn’t seem like it should to you. That being said, these are all opinions, man. Some are probably right and some are probably wrong. Many are probably neither. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interesting. What do you think?

P.S. Here’s the desktop sized version of me being a d-bag on a train.

  • Joshua Chapa

    When I was living in Tokyo, I rode the trains like crazy. Often more than 4 times a day and over several transfers. I looked and worked hard to find a seat. There were times I gave up my seat on the train to an elderly person or someone who I felt needed it more than I and I believe it’s the right thing to do. But there were times when I had a high fever and had to ride 4 hours worth of trains. Just because I found a seat shouldn’t mean I have to immediately give it to someone who might need it. I think the being oblivious argument isn’t very valid. It’s not hard to take a moment and consider the people around us. But now it’s moot point for me as I live more in the countryside. I’m extremely happy to be away from all the busy trains. My point, I think it’s the right thing to do to give up your seat but if someone chooses not to it doesn’t make them a bad person. Also, those seats are all full so it’s never just one person not giving up their seat, it’s often a row of businessmen not giving up their seats.

  • Joshua Chapa

    Yeah good point. Although it is customary in Japan to refuse something a few times before accepting it. I can only assume your experience has something to do with that. However I could be very wrong.

  • Joshua Chapa

    Lol it’s hilarious. I used to see this all the time. Sometimes they wouldn’t even miss a beat. Just wake up and exit.

  • Joshua Chapa

    This is so true. They do things differently here and that doesn’t make them impolite. They are polite. Polite to a fault. I’ve seen it countless times. I saw a dirty man who may have been homeless walk over to a drain grate and spit as opposed to just spitting on the sidewalk. The Japanese are selfish, true, but so is everyone else in this world. I’m from the US and I can say comparatively that the Japanese are way more polite than even my old home in the south where they’re known for “southern hospitality”.

  • Francis A.

    I don’t ride public transportation that much here in the US, but I definitely would give up my seat to someone in need when I can. I also agree with the fact that people judge others almost instinctively, myself included when I saw a young teen ignore the elderly. I judged him without a second thought.

    Bottom line is that there are people who will do the right thing and there are people who will always judge others no matter what.

    I can’t even begin to imagine how public transportation in Japan would be. It seems pretty brutal but definitely something I would like to experience for myself.

  • http://zoomingjapan.com/ zoomingjapan

    A very interesting topic indeed.
    Most of the time I’m the one standing anyways, so I don’t have to think about it.
    I only use a train when I’m traveling. I don’t commute by train, but by car, so I don’t have to deal with it daily.

    However, just yesterday I went to the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto. Of course, it was very hot.
    There was a “human accident” (read: somebody jumped in front of a train), so all the trains were late.
    While this happens often in Tokyo, it doesn’t happen so often where I live and at some point there were just too many people.
    In my 6 years in Japan I’ve never experienced such a crowded train before, not even during rush hour in Tokyo!
    I squeezed myself in. Not an inch of space between me and the others. Hard to breathe. And that in the current summer heat.
    And then more people tried to squeeze in. One of them hit me (not on purpose, of course) right into my stomach and I broke down because it was painful like hell.

    And then something happened that surprised me. Usually Japanese people just stare, but ignore what just happened. I had similar experiences previously. But this time there was an old man next to me who did everything he could to protect my stomach. He told the others not to push, not to come close to my stomach and after a while he asked if there’s not anybody who could give up their seat for me.
    I felt so embarrassed and told him it’s ok, but even an elderly woman who probably wanted to sit as well asked others to give up their seat for me.

    Well, that’s not the standard, though!

    I do understand his arguments. It really depends for me. Usually I’m the one who has to stand and after traveling the whole day I’m so exhausted and my feet hurt so much that when I finally get a seat I just crash down and fall asleep.

    If I don’t have a long ride or if I just start out and still have energy I give up my seat for elderly people of for someone who is obviously pregnant.

    There are a lot of people who won’t give up their seats, so it’s interesting to read about the mindset of such a person.

    I suppose he is male, especially because of the comment about “boobs”. I’m sure female train passengers will notice more easily if a woman is pregnant or not.

    When I have to stand after a long day and can barely stand anymore and have young kids who don’t even sit but always jump up and run around then I get REALLY angry! Once I was about to just steal their seat while they were standing and fighting each other. But that’s a completely different story (rude kids and their behavior while the parents just fell asleep).

  • Mikki

    The thing is, what if that person who you think is so selfishly hogging that seat, actually has a medical condition that you can’t see? For example, I have low blood pressure and if I haven’t eaten or if I’m too hot or sometimes for seemingly no reason at all, I can be prone to passing out. Sitting down is the best option for me when I’m starting to feel light headed. Sure I still give up my seat when it’s appropriate but sometimes I just feel crappy myself and I’m not sure if standing up is a good idea. Especially since, if I pass out, I could cause harm or injury to others and myself.

    Another example: My sister has a pretty bad knee condition which causes a lot of pain. She doesn’t need any assistance from medical equipment (yet), but standing for extended periods of time is something that’s difficult for her. She actually had to quit her job back when she was 18 working as a cashier because the pain was too much for her and now has a sitting job. You’d never know this just by looking at her, but I assure you the pain is pretty severe for her and she’ll need knee replacements by the time she’s 30 – 40. She doesn’t take the train or any public transport, but I’m sure that standing for more than 20 minutes would be hard on her. And most people probably are on the train for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or more.

  • Cheru

    I’m not saying you’re an intolerant person. I understand your complaints. I’ve been there before. There are jerks here and there are nice people here. Just like any country. If someone’s going to get offended at you for benign actions, that’s their problem, not yours. However, by the same stoke, if you’re upset that they don’t return a benign action, that’s your problem, not theirs. Should some attitudes and actions of people change? Probably. Do all of them need to change? No. And Japan is changing. It’s slow, but it’s changing. The homogenized culture and as you mentioned the fact that it was a locked country make change difficult, but it is happening.

    However, sometimes, your perception makes a huge difference. I didn’t write a reply to tear you down. I had a lot of the same problems when I first got here a number of years ago. Thinking that the country should change, however, isn’t going to make the country change. It’ll change in its own time. You can show an example, but again, things will change at their own pace. In the meantime, though, getting hung up on every exchange does you no good. That was a huge stressor for me at one point. When I started viewing things from a more open perspective, however, I was stressed a lot less. When I started thinking of the “why” rather than the “what,” I was able to accept things more. And when I stopped getting hung up on things I was socially conditioned to think of as a given and started ignoring them, things got a lot better. That’s all I was trying to say.

  • Beel

    To be honest, I find the whole “it’s a condition you decided to put yourself in” justification strange. And putting pregnancy in that category is even stranger to me. You make it sound like it’s such a negative thing. Come on, it’s normal. We all have mothers. They’ve all been through it, and I’m sure it sucks. If you don’t want to give up your seat, fine, but I’m not following your logic.

    And besides, how do you know how somebody injured themselves? A ton of (most?) injuries are because they did it to themselves. So some dude who injured his foot playing basketball gets your seat, but that pregnant lady? Nah, let her tough it out…

  • Cheru

    Knowing that, I started off being a bit insistent, trying to convince them to take my seat. Whenever I would do that, though, it would still result in them not taking the seat and me sitting back down. My insistence waned as time went on until I just stopped caring altogether. Though, now that I think of it, I don’t feel I should have to convince someone to take my seat. I understand the custom of refusing the first offer, and I know that not doing so is thought of as greedy in Japanese culture. If you’re going to someone’s house and they offer you something, or something like that, I can understand. However, something small like a seat on the train I don’t feel requires a 10-page dialogue to get through. When this back and forth takes so long that we’ve reached the next stop and I’ve gotten off anyway, it’s completely pointless.

  • Yuume

    I like that he said you should just want to do good things to do good things, not for another reason. Also, I can see his side of it, and it’s nice to see someone realize that everyone has their own problems and reasons for acting the way they do. That in itself is good.

    I would give up my seat to a pregnant lady just because that is taxing on the body and simple things can become completely exhausting when you are pregnant, even to the point of being dangerous.

    I know the buses at Disney World aren’t the same as trains in Japan, but people there will fight and push for seats because they’ve been walking around the park all day and it’s hot and they don’t want to stand and they’re tired. I generally give up my seat to a kid or lady with a baby, older people, etc. But I’ve also seen a lot of people give up their seat for completely healthy, non-pregnant girls/women just because it’s the acceptable, chivalrous thing to do I guess. Maybe that’s a Western thing though, that it’s polite to give up your seat to a lady regardless. I’ve even done it for a lady in her late 30′s, and I’m a 24-year-old woman.

    I don’t think badly of people who don’t give up their seat unless they’re just a straight d-bag about it. Like this one guy who straight up told this 93-year-old man he was just out of luck, so the man had to stand and hold on to his family and had trouble standing the whole ride back.

  • Chiisana_Hato

    I’m an older lady who also has had a shattered right leg. I also ride the train every working day. If I’m in pain, I’ll take the seat. If I’m not I don’t want to make others stand so I will refuse, but I remember that person who offered for days and days! It brings a smile to my face and that warm fuzzy feeling. It really is the gesture that is appreciated even if one does not accept. And don’t every ride a train with my Aunt. I saw her clock a kid upside his head with her crutch because he didn’t move his scrawny tush out of a seat for her! Old ladies can be REAL mean! lol

  • Yellow Belly

    As far as the staring thing goes, I’m not stressing. I get why they’re staring and I don’t care. But if I respond, and it’s not often, to their staring with a smile, or “hello,” or a bow, and I get an obtuse look back, then I feel like that person is a fool. I’m a shy person, so I understand shy as well, but a simple acknowledgment in passing isn’t too much to ask. Especially if the person is in their 20′s-40′s. In this age of instant information, in a modern superpower country, if a person is mesmerized by another human only because that human looks different from them it says more about the person then it does about a culture.

    If we focus on that 20-40 age group and look at their global knowledge it’s paltry, which would be excusable if not for their utter fascination in all-things-foreign. But they want to be on the outside of the fishbowl looking in, and that’s a selfish way to act.

    I don’t care what race or religion you are. If you’ve lived enough and met people from all over the world you realize that we’re all people, we all have similar needs and wants. Japanese are no different. I’m from NYC, plenty of people are rushing around and wouldn’t look or care if you’re standing on a street corner naked eating rats. And if you flash a smile to someone they’ll ignore you too. I get it. But at the same time they’re not staring at you for 3 minutes because of what you look like.

  • Gruntlewick

    Gosh, I wonder if that’s a pan-Asian thing. I hope they’re not as ostentatious about it as they are here in China. I avoid giving up seats to the elderly if they look like the kind that’s going to make a big song and dance as they refuse. Take the bloody seat! It’s as embarrassing as hell when the whole damned bus starts talking about the foreigner who valiantly gave up his seat for the old person. But I suppose the Japanese would be more discreet. In big, cosmopolitan cities this ain’t a big deal tho.

    Touristing about Seoul, I noticed that young people studiously avoided being seen even standing near an old person seat, much less occupying one.

  • Gruntlewick

    For the record: I raise a stein of frothy lager to your inclusion of lots of Japanese-with-English-translation below. Two birds with one stone!

  • Candy Rendon

    Great article! Another reason why I’ve gotta put in more Japanese language learning into my schedule: Kangaetakekka writes well and I’d love to read and understand his blog in Japanese.

  • martinjablonski

    The one thing I just realized is how much more you can write on twitter when using Japanese.

  • Andrew

    I’d agree with the fact that sometimes it’s difficult to know if a fellow lady commuter is indeed pregnant, or just overweight – offering your seat to a woman who turns out to just be a bit tubby is embarrassing for both parties! The London Underground came up with a brilliant solution to this problem – pregnant woman can obtain a free official badge (http://commutingexpert.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/baby-on-board.jpg) from any station ticket office which makes it much easier for them to get a seat. A wonderfully simple solution.

  • EspadaKiller

    Very interesting article. This “not giving up seats in train” situation is kinda bad in Singapore, where I live. There would be a priority seat which has a very clear sign that shows to give up seats for the elderly, pregnant ladies and kids. But usually Singaporeans ignore it. And so what happens? People took photos of them and shame them on a website called “STOMP” (http://www.stomp.com.sg/), where all kind of weird stuffs that are happening in SG are reported there via ordinary users.

    And so, people do take advantage of this priority seats thingy. There’s a case where a girl (girl gangster, called “ah lian” in SG) didn’t notice a elderly woman was standing in front of her, and the elderly woman starts scolding her really loudly on the train. She was listening to music on her earphones so she didn’t notice her (where this article states about how once you are seated down you tend to pay less or no attention around you, which for this case it’s probably true). So she decided to give up her seat to her, but she continues to scold her, and in the end they started quarrelling. So who’s wrong now?

    Here’s the article and video btw: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/what-is-buzzing/ah-lian-vs-auntie-clash-mrt-quarrel-093745529.html

    Personally I would give up my seats as well, but sometimes I wonder does the person deserves it? Especially with the situation that I had just explained. Maybe for pregnant ladies yes, but what about for elderly people? Some of them seriously doesn’t deserve it, but who am I to judge?

  • Lawrence Jenkins

    I don’t

  • Saimu-san

    My sister and I both get regularly yelled at and told off on the bus (trains here are abysmal compared to what we were used to in our home town) for using the disabled seats by angry pensioners. We have the same mobility and fatigue problems requiring medication where we’re always exhausted and our leg bones feel like they’re on fire before we even start walking or standing. I’ll give up my seat no problem for someone with a pushchair that needs to sit next to their baby in the allocated space or if someone in a wheelchair needs the seat specifically for them.
    Everybody else hasn’t got a chance. I don’t even take my bag off the seat next to me unless somebody asks politely (it’s seriously heavy to the point it aggravates my leg pain if I put it on them for too long).
    I know where the best stops to get on are, though so I walk a little bit further to get those but I can still wait a stop or two if it’s crowded. I don’t want anybody to give me their seat. It wouldn’t be fair.

    The thing is that pensioners get FREE bus passes in the UK while prices are hiking up more and more for the rest of us. It’s gone up a pound in the past few months and it was already up a pound on the year before.
    I paid for my seat. They didn’t and they can clearly wait a lot longer than I can. So why should I give them frosting, whipped cream and a cherry on top when their deal is already sweet enough? (Note , there are also usually the people that yell at us about it.)

  • Haruko

    I am a foreigner who used to live in Japan. Because of my health problems, it is difficult for me to stand on the train. I take any seat I can get, even priority seating, and I don’t give it up to anyone. My reasoning is that the priority seating is also intended for injured or sick people and since I’m sick, I have a right to sit there. The problem is that from the outside, I look like a perfectly healthy young woman. Therefore I’m pretty sure a lot of people judge me for not giving up my seat. So I agree with Kangaetakekka’s point that it would be better if people would consider someone’s (possible) background or reasons before judging. However, since I’m a realist or perhaps even a cynic, I figure people will always judge. As long as you’re in the clear with your own morals, and just do your best, you should ignore other people’s judgment.

  • magdalen

    See, there it is again. You’re stuck with *your* definition of what constitutes a “decent human being”, or what the “nice thing to do” is. Why is it “person in front of you lets it slam into your face”? Why can’t you take responsibility for your own face and not “let” other people slam anything into it? You assume that other person will “feel a little like an asshole”, but maybe there’s a possibility that, you know, since they are a different person from you, they’ll react differently? Who is judging without thinking here?

    I don’t know if I’m “caught up” in our differences, I would say that I acknowledge that differences exist and do my best to evaluate people on their own terms. In fact, I moved to London from Florida because I absolutely love the incredible diversity of people and cultures here. I still don’t understand why little things like people not holding doors or smiling back has you so upset that you’d use terms/phrases like “asshole” and “they can go fuck themselves”.

    Lastly, I’d like to point out that to the Japanese, perhaps their “quirks” are not “quirks”. Maybe “open your mind a little” and consider that perhaps just because they don’t act the way you expect them to, doesn’t mean they are “afraid to change”, or have to change at all. Personally, I like them the way they are. :)

  • Joshua Chapa

    Yeah I understand. And I’ve been through it too and seen it so many times. Although when someone offered me a seat (happened like twice) I took it with little to no hesitation. I must have looked like a monster to some people lol.

  • John

    I did this all the time on the school bus, although for me it seemed to be more of a half asleep kind of thing.

  • katsarayuki

    I give up my seat where possible. On a crowded bus one day someone tried tried to driticize me for not giving them my seat this person would of been 20 something but the issue was I had three broken toes and had been working all day; definitely not a situation where I wanted to be standing but not obvious. Though on the flip side Iat one point I broke my ankle and on the bus with full foot cast and crutches had to stand the entire hour journey.

  • JM

    What a spoilt brat. Your mom didn’t brought up well ain’t she. It’s just a seat just chill out…. There are different people with different needs just try to understand…..

  • Mina

    I am writing as a pregnant foreigner living in Japan.

    I don’t live in the populated areas so I’m almost always guaranteed a seat in the train, pregnant or not. In my recent visit to Tokyo, I was never offered a seat in the trains although obviously pregnant and with the bag “pregnancy tag”. It was fine because I could lean against the train to get comfort for my back or sometimes, my backaches were so bad, I would squat. Honestly, being pregnant and knowing how rough it is on my body, I will make a conscientious effort to give up my seat to a pregnancy woman. Most of you can’t relate and that’s fine but I was clueless about the pains pregnant women go through and now I know to be more aware and considerate.