The Unwritten Rules of Tokyo. Remember these and be a Japan Expert!

Tokyo, home of popular trends, is where to find leading new apparel shops and restaurants. I’m sure the glamorous city of Tokyo is one place everyone would like to visit at least once in their life! In this season there are many people coming to Tokyo from outside the city for college and to look for jobs. Many overseas tourists are also here for the cherry blossoms!



I want everyone to enjoy Tokyo freely! But please allow me, someone from outside the city, to talk about the many surprises I encountered here. At first Tokyo really was a storm of bewilderment; there are so many people you start to feel sick just from walking, the fast pace everyone walks here, the difficulty of changing trains, the difficulty of just getting to the right station gate, the fight to enter a crowded train, etc. I’ve been here for decades and still haven’t gotten used to it.


However, I was most surprised by the unwritten rules of Tokyo. These are things that you won’t learn from a teacher or your parents, so of course there’s no reason you should know! These are rules you won’t learn until you go to Tokyo yourself, so I won’t say you definitely have to obey them, but it might be good to have in mind, to enjoy an easier time in Tokyo.



(1) Escalator Rule

In Tokyo, buildings like skyscrapers and basement shopping areas are common, so there are escalators wherever you look. The rule here is this!


  • People who want to stand on the escalator move to the left
  • People who want to walk up/down the escalator do so on the right


This is Tokyo’s basic of basics, so it’s definitely a good one to remember. If you think standing on either side is fine, then be ready to receive cold glares from all around you! (The worst is when someone clicks their tongue at you.) This practice is in consideration of the many people who are in a hurry and to make travel smoother (especially in business districts and areas with developing business like in Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Tokyo Station, etc.). Incidentally, it’s the opposite in the Kansai region, so be careful. A bit unrelated, but you may see people standing on either side of the escalators at Tokyo Station because many people from Kansai come here for vacation or business and both regions have their own unwritten rule.



(2) Crowded Train Rule

Tokyo’s crowded trains are pretty unbelievable. Just riding takes physical strength and calling it a fight isn’t an exaggeration. One definitely needs resolve to board these trains.

Now here are the rules!


  • There is a women’s only train car from 7:30 to 9:30 AM
  • People close to the doors step off the train at each stop for others to get off and on
  • Everyone holds their bags in front of themselves


Outside the cities and overseas trains don’t become this crowded, so this may be becoming a kind of sightseeing spot. During the morning rush hours, certain train cars are designated as women only to protect against groping incidents. If a man enters this train car unknowingly, he will receive cold stares from the surrounding women, so it’s best to be careful! Anyone can ride in these cars outside of the hours listed above!


If the train is empty there’s no problem, but during crowded times, the people standing around the doors are expected to exit the train at each stop to allow others to get off. If you don’t get out of people’s way, they may not get off the train in time and end up late for work!


Then there’s your bag. When there are any people around it is best to hold your bag in front of you to make space, this also prevents theft.



(3) Bus Rule

While taking the train is common, I recommend taking a bus when you want to look out at the surrounding scenery during your travels. The rule is this!


  • Pay upon entering the bus


In my hometown it is normal to pay at the end of the bus ride while disembarking, so coming here I had an embarrassing incident. It’s best to have money prepared beforehand so as not to hold up the line entering the bus. If you move too slowly, people will glare at you, so it’s best to be careful.

*Adults cost 210 yen and children are 110 yen. You can also use Suica card!


I introduced the unwritten rules of Tokyo, what do you think?

It’s good to remember these rules so as to enjoy a comfortable and smooth time in Tokyo!




Edit & Text: MUGI


A girl living in Tokyo with her spoiled and chubby chi-poo (chihuahua and poodle mix). I like unique scents and taking walks.