Japanese Train Etiquette: What Not to Do Learn from a train-riding goofus

    Being a baka gaijin is not always easy. Being just a baka, or just a gaijin isn’t always that hard, but being both at the same time? Now that’s an achievement. Because I want all of you to achieve your goals and be the best baka gaijin you can be, I’ve put together this short and handy guide for you so you can show everyone in Japan how baka and how gaijin you really are.

    Don’t let anyone get you down or tell you otherwise because armed with these tips you’ll be the most baka gaijin Japanese railways have ever seen. Feel free to print them out and take them with you next time you visit Japan. They’ll come in handy, I’m sure.

    1. Miss the Last Train

    Man with his head in his hands on the benches at a train station

    How much more baka can you get than not even getting to board the train in the first place? Many of the most prestigious baka gaijin believe that trains in Japan run 24/7 when in fact, they do not. Many train lines stop running around midnight or 1am. Missing the last train is a great way to show your baka gaijin prowess and all of your friends will be very impressed.

    Man in a small cubicle in front of a computer

    However, if you do end up missing the train (you silly baka gaijin, you) there are a few options. The first and less desirable option is taking a taxi which will most likely end up costing you quite a bit depending on how far you have to travel. Another option is to hang out at an internet cafe and crash there for the night. They’re relatively cheap, have entertainment as well as food and drinks, and quite a few offer amenities such as showers and laundry machines. Not bad, eh?

    2. Get Belligerent

    Caricature of a big angry bald man

    If you do make it to the train in time, it’s important to be as violent as possible to show Japan how dominant you are. If you happen to be visiting Tokyo, or another busy area of Japan, chances are it’ll be pretty congested when you get to boarding your train. This is a prime opportunity to take the baka gaijin approach of shoving Japanese women and children to the ground as you make your way to the train (like a man), grumbling and shouting all the way.

    Tokyo train station during rush hour

    Another approach to this is to realize that the congestion is nobody’s fault and it just comes with the territory. Pushing Japanese people into the concrete might not be the best option after all. Perhaps it would be wiser to just be as courteous as possible, try not to elbow anyone in the face, and just look forward to getting off the crowded train and into some fresh air again.

    3. Bring Too Much Luggage

    Tourists on a bus with bulky luggage on their laps and other seats

    Another surefire way to piss people off (including yourself) is to bring too much luggage onto the train. If you just flew into Japan and are all ready to get to your hotel, the best way to make everyone’s day worse is to bring all that luggage onto the train with you. You’ll get in everyone’s way, take up too much room on the train, and if you’re lucky, you might even lose a piece of luggage in the chaos. Baka gaijinity at its finest.

    Logo for Japanese shipping

    However, if you just can’t handle being this big of a pain in people’s rears, there are other options. If you have lots of luggage, you can always grab a taxi or make use of Japan’s awesome takkyubin services. As I mentioned before, taxis can get kind of expensive, so takkyubin become a much more attractive option. It’s what I used when I was in Japan and it was just fabulous. Takkyubin services will take your luggage from you at the airport and then deliver them to your lodgings either later that same day or some time the next. They’re like, super convenient.

    4. Talk on the Phone

    Stock image of a woman speaking angrily on the phone with irritated people behind her

    Okay, so you’ve boarded the train without cracking any skulls, you decided to leave your luggage in the capable hands of the takkyubin kittens, so now what can you do to exert your baka gaijinity? You talk on your phone. Loudly. On the train, you’ll be likely to see most natives using their phones to communicate by means of text. What fools! Why text when you can blather on about how all your other baka gaijin friends are writing their names in kanji? I mean, the natives probably want to hear your side of the conversation anyway, right? You are very handsome and charming, after all.

    People on their phones while they’re waiting for a train to arrive

    Or you could just text if you’re not baka gaijin enough. I mean, not everyone has the conviction to be the best baka gaijin they can be. Don’t worry, I’m not mad. Just disappointed.

    5. Board the “Women Only” Car

    Troll face in a crowded women-only train car

    If none of these other options are doing it for you, the sneakiest way to be a baka gaijin on Japanese trains (if you’re a man) is to get onto the “women only” car. Most of the time these cars are only labeled as such between certain hours of the day so make sure you board it at the most awkward and inconvenient time as possible. No one will question your manliness (or your baka gaijin-ness) ever again. Trust me.

    Sign for women-only train car

    This one is actually pretty hard to pull off since most people will let you know that you’re in line for the women’s only car before you get to board it. The best way to avoid boarding the women’s only car is to pay attention to the signs since most of the time they’ll have a short explanation of the cars in English along with the Japanese. The reason these cars exist is so women can feel safe from gropers on the trains. And remember, kids, groping is a no-no.

    Be Proud. Be Baka. Be Gaijin.

    Artsy graffiti-style American flag

    And there you have it. Pretty much all you’ll ever need to know about how to act in, on, or around Japanese trains. So next time you’re in Japan, whether it be your first time or your fifty-first time, be all that you can be. Be the best damn baka gaijin this side of The Great Wall of China.** Make me proud.


    So tell me, have you ever seen anyone make these faux pas in Japan before? Ever made them yourself? Leave us a story on Twitter!


    **Tofugu does not advocate purposefully being a baka gaijin in Japan on a train or otherwise. Please realize that this article was written in good humor. Thank you and have a kawaii day.