Manners and politeness in Japan are a big deal. The Japanese are renowned for their polite and unassuming ways and Kyotoites are no exception. The ancient capital has started to become fed up of the mess tourists are leaving so have devised several illustrations to help travellers behave well on their trip.
In order to show tourists what not to do in Kyoto a poster called Akimahen has been released. Akihamen means “Do not”, so this is an illustrated list of what not to do. Here is how to be polite when using various types of transportation around Kyoto.
Trains are a huge part of Japan and a huge part of tourism. Japan has an excellent, fast and safe public transportation system which runs smoothly. However if people don’t know the Akimahen for trains it can make the journey uncomfortable for others. Therefore if you are on a seat and see someone standing who needs a seat, please get up and move away. If you offer the seat the person may decline due to their own politeness and you may find yourself in a battle of polite words.
Many people in Japan therefore just recommend getting out of the seat as to not offend the person who is sick, pregnant, old or ill. Simply! The second recommendation from Kyoto is for your own safety, do not take pictures of oncoming trains. Trains travel very fast and are very dangerous if you were to get in the way. If you want a picture maybe wait until the train has stopped or purchase one taken by a professional, keep safe!
Cycling is an excellent way to get around Japan, and especially to get around Kyoto. Kyoto is relatively flat and also has great roads too. Cycling is a cheap, environmentally friendly and healthy way to get around. The Akihamen for bicycles is really just the law. In Japan there are many things to do with bicycles that are illegal, for example cycling while holding an umbrella. To make sure you don’t end up with a huge fine Kyoto has given advice to travellers. Firstly do not ride your bicycle under the influence of alcohol.
Just like driving a car, driving a bicycle when drunk is very dangerous. You could get hurt or end up hurting someone else, so to avoid this and a fine or prison sentence please do not cycle and drink. Secondly do not leave your bicycle on the road. There are many special areas for bicycle parking around so don’t clog up the narrow walkways of Kyoto with your bike. It could end up costing you a lot if you do.
Taxis are another good way to get around. The taxi driver is usually quite knowledgeable about the locjapanal areas and taxis are reasonable priced too. Please do be aware that the taxi doors will open and close themselves. Do not tug on the doors or you could damage them!
Follow the above rules and you will be behaving politely when travelling around Kyoto. It is always important to remember that where ever you visit this is someone’s home or place of work. Behave how you would like others to behave where you live, in line with your customs and with a polite manner. It is easy to be polite in Kyoto, and now it is even easier.