Get Up and Go
For a culture that is supposed to be as polite as Japan’s, I am always amazed at the detached, rude behavior commonly seen in public. It has been commented on before how Japanese behavior differs when they are away from home or country from what it is at home. This is liminality, a distinction drawn between the inside and the outside. Among familiars, Japanese behave more politely. Among strangers, the opposite prevails.
I see it every day on the commuter trains. People push and shove - even when they don’t have to. When young people are sitting in seats that are clearly marked and resreved for elderly or other needful passengers, they studiously ignore the rightful passengers meant to occupy those seats. But what really gets my goat is how people get up and go - meanly pushing their way through standing crowds towards the train car doors - even before the trains stop moving. It’s dangerous, of course. And, it reminds me of behavior on arriving passenger jetliners. Flight attendants always tell passsengers to stay seated until the plane has come to a complete halt and the Seatbelt signs have been turned off. But those instructions never prevent people - Japanese, I have noticed - from jumping the gun trying to collect their carry on baggage from overhead compartments in order to make a quick getaway, before the aircraft completely stops. Of course, sometimes I read reports of injuries to mobile passengers when jetliners make sudden moves during their parking procedures. It seems to me that commuter trains could/should broadcast similar, taped safety warnings inside the cars.
I don’t get it. It is such common sense that people would do better to wait their proper turn, that everyone wins if we treat each other with due respect and according to etiquette, not to mention we would all be a lot safer, too. There is plenty of time for people to get on and off the trains without pushing. There has never been a case of such a failure. In any event, the next train is guaranteed to come along in just a few minutes, anyway. To me, it is behavior like this that exposes the myth of harmony and courtesy in Japanese culture, and why Japanese cannot see it is a mystery. Well, people are blind to their own myths. It also exposes the total lack of, or failure of rationale thought. But I could be wrong.