Culture/History

Strange habit in Japan on the Escalator

03/09/2020

Rules for public places

Have you ever been urged by strangers to walk up or down faster while standing on the escalator? If so, please don’t be surprised as it is our habit to keep one side of the escalator open so that people who are in rush can walk faster on the escalator. Especially in large cities like Tokyo and Osaka, people who are in hurry don’t want to waste their time even on the escalator.

Difference between Kansai and Kanto

Did you notice that the side that is left open on the escalator differs between the Kansai and the Kanto regions? In Tokyo, people stand on the left, and in Osaka, they stand on the right. If you are used to either Kanto habit or Kansai habit, you may need a bit of effort to adjust yourself to the other rule while traveling in Japan. There are various reasons why the rules are different between Kanto and Kansai. During the Osaka World Expo in 1970, Kansai learned from Western countries to keep the left side open. On the other hand, in Kanto, people try to follow the same rule as when they drive, meaning leaving the right side open.

The downside of always keeping one side open on the escalator is that it could damage the escalator itself as we are putting much more weight on one side than the other. Around the escalator to the Roppongi Hills, the maintenance company was asking the crowds to stand on both sides on the escalator; however, most people never listened to it.. Apparently, this deep-rooted habit is something that we struggle to change…

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