On the JR trains in Tokyo, there were signs everywhere saying to make sure your phone is on silent mode, and there were announcements saying to refrain from talking on the phone. I assume that's for etiquette reasons (but I could be wrong).

Is it also considered rude to talk to another person while on the train? I.e. should I refrain from talking at all while on a train, or is it just talking on mobile phones?

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    The general etiquette for closed public spaces in Japan is to not cause a disturbance. People do take phone calls on the train, however they are usually to say that they are on the train and to call back or that they will be late arriving. Phone calls are frowned upon for 2 reasons; some phone calls are loud because the person on the other end can barely be heard and that most guidelines say to turn your phone off when near priority seating to avoid disturbing pacemakers. On the other hand talking is not frowned upon unless it is causing a disturbance with either its volume or content. Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 1:52

1 Answer 1


There are many guides on the 'Net which affirms the need for quiet while riding the train. Example:

People generally sit or stand in silence while on the trains as being too loud and disturbing other passengers is considered rude. This includes talking on your phone or having loud conversations. If you need to chat to your travel companion, do so in low voices. Also make sure your phone is on silent and that other people can’t hear the music you’re listening to or the game you’re playing.


Also, you'll find that most Japanese people do not talk loudly on the train. It's a good idea to follow their example and keep loud conversation to a minimum.

And so on.

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    However, it is to note that many people do talk on the train. Most nights later in the week, expect louder than normal conversations as people returning from drinking parties attempt to make their way home. Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 1:46

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