Kanto Left • Kansai Right?

Japanophile Andrew observes:

JR (East) is trying to get people to stop walking up the escalators, mainly because some people won’t stop looking at their phones and are tripping and falling, or bumping into people who are just standing.

Right or Left?

Speaking of trains, Japan is famous for their crazy rush hour. Have you ever thought how such a huge influx of people can make it on time to work when even looking at the crowd ahead of you makes you want to drop it all? Well, that’s because there are certain rules that are respected at all times, and one single person neglecting that rule could cause chaos. And a lot of anger.

I’m referring to the etiquette for using the escalator. It’s common sense in all cultures to leave one side of the escalator free so that people in a hurry can walk up/down it. In Tokyo for instance, people would stand on the left side and the right side would be free for people to walk. 

In Kansai, it’s the other way around. Imagine if you would just be standing on the wrong line (let’s say on the right side while you’re supposed to be on the left). Imagine you just don’t realize it in time and you get a line of angry people behind you, probably blaming you already for their being late to arrive at their workplace

Better be safe than sorry, and in order not to interfere with the perfect mechanism that allows people to commute so fast and in such a well-organized manner, stand on the left side of the escalator in Tokyo, and on the right in Osaka, Kobe, Nara, and other cities in Kansai. (I still advise you to look around closely and see what local people are doing, because after all, imitation is the only fail-proof way!)

JR East said it wants to establish the norm of having commuters stand still on escalators as walking on moving steps can lead to accidents such as falling down or being knocked down by someone who loses their balance, Fuji TV reported.

There are also dangers for those with disability or injuries. For example, a person whose body is disabled on their left side would need to stand on the right side of an escalator if they want to hold on to the handrail. Furthermore, according to research, 30 percent more people will be able to use escalators if people line up on both sides instead of letting people walk on one side.

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