Japanese Youth and Manners

Everyone knows that the Japanese are the politest people on the face of the earth. I was completely amazed when walking into even a McDonalds in Japan and having the employees bow to me. In the trains I quickly learned to not talk to loud and turn my phone on mana- modo and if I was rude enough to answer to cover my mouth and quickly tell the caller to call me back because I’m on the train to which they would quickly understand and hurridly say “ok ok,, call me back.”

However, it would seem that these manners are quickly slipping among the Japanese youth. This however can definately not be compared to the rudness of youth in other countries since Japan is in it’s own league when speaking of politeness, but it seems that the youth are bringing it down just a notch.

When I first arrived, I was unaware that the young girl putting her makeup on in the train was being rude….

but when she continued to concentrate on one eyelash for five minutes (not exaggerating) I smiled and mimicked her to one of my gaijin friends. Unfortunately, she noticed and gave me a super evil stare. As time went on, I learned what the do’s and dont’s were on the train and became so accustomed to the life that I actually began to see those eating and talking on cell phones while on the train as rude. It began to annoy me when people’s cell phones would suddenly interrupt the silence and I would be awakened to loud jabbering. Then I found out what a Shibuya girl was and how being rude was part of their identity. Once on a train near Shibuya there were a group of Shibuya guys and girls playing their cell phone ring tones super loud and dancing to it!!

It seems now that the international media has picked up on this phenomenon and I recently read an article about how manners are slipping among japanese youth and wondered if it was due to the influence of the West or simply young Japanese trying to find their own identity by rejecting the social mores of their parents. The article now mentions that there are Sesame street posters which tell you to “Please fold your paper so it doesn’t take up too much room.” Does anyone have a picture of these characters? The last effort I saw from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in trying to control behavior was directed at the Chikans that depicted angry women and police nearby.

2 Comments so far

  1. karlita "japanese lover" (unregistered) on June 21st, 2005 @ 2:27 am

    Can you tell me more about Shibuya guys and girls? I find it very peculiar that japanese like to group and name people for every different behavior they might have.

  2. DMC (unregistered) on August 11th, 2005 @ 2:15 pm

    I love Japan and the Japanese, but this aspect of Japanese life drives me crazy.
    Japanese train manners are ridiculous. Why is it considered rude for a young girl to apply make-up quietly, whereas if she knocks over an old lady while jumping off a train at a station nobody bats an eyelid?
    On trains Japanese people push, shove, charge onto trains before letting passengers off, *never* say sorry when they collide with you, and never tell you if you’ve dropped something. And what’s more they sniff incessantly and revoltingly when a brief, discreet nose-blow would cure matters… but that’s considered rude isn’t it! This mob-rule behaviour extends beyond trains: has a Japanese person ever held a door open for you?
    I’ve never encountered such terrible manners as Japanese people on trains. London trains are just as crowded, but most people take care to be civilized, and innocuous things like applying make-up are OK.
    I’ve a theory that the reason the Japanese have so many rules of etiquette (eg shop staff bowing) is that they simply don’t know how to be polite of their own accord.

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