Japan Data

Train Troubles: Railway Passengers Declare Backpacks a Major Nuisance


Packed commuter trains are bad enough, but railway passengers agree that backpack wearers make them worse.

Railway passengers endure stifling trains and other miseries on their crowded commutes, but the behavior that rankles them the most is people wearing backpacks. According to an annual survey on train and station manners by the Japan Private Railway Association, a group of 73 railway companies nationwide, train passengers are most annoyed by how people carry or place their bags on trains, with backpacks or shoulder bags causing the greatest irritation. The issue of noisy conversations and revelry placed a close second in the survey, which has been conducted since 1999, followed by how people sit in third spot.

Most Annoying Types of Behavior on Trains

1 Manner of placing or holding bags 37.3%
2 Noisy conversations and revelry 36.9%
3 Way of sitting 34.5%
4 Way of boarding or exiting trains 34.3%
5 Noise seeping out of headphones 23.2%
6 Manner of using a smartphone 21.5%
7 Drunken passengers 15.4%
8 Applying makeup in trains 15.1%
9 Littering 14.2%
10 Eating or drinking on crowded trains 10.0%

Compiled by Nippon.com based on data from Japan Private Railway Association.

In the past, backpacks were mainly used by students or people pursuing leisure activities, but recently solidly built “business-style” backpacks that can hold a laptop and A4-size documents have come into wide use. Although there is no issue with the backpacks per se, many train passengers have complained of unpleasant encounters with people who keep their packs on even while riding crowded rush-hour trains.

Most Annoying Behaviors Related to Carrying or Placement of Bags

Backpacks, shoulder bags, and other bags worn on the shoulder or back 66.2%
Bags placed on seats 9.0%
Bags placed on the floor 8.3%
Umbrellas 6.1%
Large shopping bags 3.9%
Bags placed near train doors 2.2%

Compiled by Nippon.com based on data from Japan Private Railway Association.

Train companies are working to improve trains manners, including initiatives like informational posters placed on trains and in stations asking passengers to hold backpacks in front or to place them on luggage racks.

The survey also included positive replies, including a respondent who boarded a crowded train with a small child in tow and was given a space near the door by another passenger, and another who saw a foreign passenger giving up a seat to an elderly passenger.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

railway manners