Just like any form of transportation, trains have their own etiquette to follow. As Japan is a nation that takes manners quite seriously, be sure to act accordingly at all times.
When getting ready to board, make sure to get in line and do not rush onto the train. It is very easy for accidents to happen if people rush on or off the train.
In order to allow people to flow freely throughout the cabin, be sure to keep your luggage out of the aisles. Depending on the type of train you are riding, there may be places for your belongings. These areas can be above seats, under seats, and in between passenger cars.
Certain trains have implemented women-only passenger cars to prevent sexual harassment when trains get crowded during rush hour. Needless to say, be sure not to enter these if you are a male passenger. The cars will be marked with a pink sign that says: “Women Only.”
Regular commuter trains without assigned seats have “priority seats” that will usually be on the far left or right side of cars. These are meant for the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women, and women with small children. You are allowed to sit in these seats when no one is using them, but it is imperative to give them up when necessary.
If you are riding on a train that has reclining seats, be mindful of the person behind you when moving back. When getting off the train, return your seat to its original position.
Smoking is prohibited on all trains in Japan, and if you are riding a train that does not have a tray table for each seat, eating and drinking is looked down upon.
Perhaps the most important manner of all is how to properly use your phone. Set it to silent at all times and do not talk on the phone around others. If the phone call is an emergency, go to the area between passenger cars or make it quick while talking quietly.
By following this proper etiquette, you will blend in and not cause any disturbances while you ride trains in Japan.