Japan, being a tech-savvy nation, boasts a large smartphone user base. There are some things that Japan does in a different way when compared to the rest of the world, but every country on the planet has been hooked onto smartphones with the advent of social media, online news, games, and video sharing.
However, the following four facts throw a lot of light on the phone culture in Japan and could be useful for you if you are coming to Japan.
If you are a first time visitor or someone who is not familiar with Japanese public transportation systems, you may be surprised by the fact that Japanese people avoid taking calls on trains, buses and other means of transport.
They pay more attention to their surroundings and are cautious about causing any kind of inconvenience to others by any way possible. This is one of the most important issues that pop up during conversations about Japanese politeness, public etiquette, or privacy.
Sadly, not everyone abides by this rule. So there will be some exceptionally rare times you’ll come across a rude person on the train loudly talking on the phone while some Japanese passengers give them the stink eye.
If you go to any other country in Asia or America you will see people talking to themselves using hands-free technology that is now very readily available. If you walk down the streets of Japan, however, you will rarely see someone without earphones or headphones.
In a country that is known for its quirkiness, this may come as a definite surprise to many. For reasons better known to themselves, most Japanese smartphone users refrain from taking calls without using hands or headphones.
Walking while on phone and texting or watching videos by gazing at your screen is a widespread problem that people, especially youngsters, do around the world. There is a name for this practice in Japan which is ‘aruki-sumaho’, and this means ‘moving smartphone’. Although it is very often unappreciated, you can see this problem in Japan as well.
What’s interesting here is the way the Japanese tackle this problem and the dangers of it, as you can mistakenly hurt someone by paying less attention to where you are going. Believe it or not, there are apps designed to stop you from hurting yourself or others, while you lean into your smartphone whilst moving in public spaces. Even companies such as Docomo, for example, have developed cell phone features with safety options, which send a message to stop and limit your phone usage, if you are becoming an ‘aruki sumaho’.
The Japanese government has also launched campaigns by releasing ads and videos to spread awareness, and this seems to be working well as many people now choose to use their phones only when they are standing or sitting, instead of walking.
There is one trend that has sadly become so common in many cities around the world: people blasting music or watching YouTube videos and Netflix shows without wearing earphones.
The accessibility to streaming services, the option to download our favorite episodes, and the increasingly good quality of smartphones have contributed to smartphones replacing some people’s computers and televisions when it comes to how they consume content like movies, shows, and music. In many countries, people have taken this comfort to disrespectful levels by watching or listening to this content without the use of earphones. This in turns creates a lot of noise that can bother other people.
While in Japan there are some bad apples that do this, it is a behavior frown upon. Luckily, most people who do this are doing it by accident, not realizing that their earphones are not fully connected to the phone’s headphone jack or that their wireless earphones have not been turned on.
Once they realize this by themselves or thanks to another passenger, they will apologize and nervously fix the issue.
As you may have already known, Japanese companies give a lot of importance to work ethics such as diligence. You are not supposed to waste your time, and should only do your assigned tasks with hard work and fervor. Even a slight glance at your phone screen during a meeting or when you are tired is going to upset many people in your office.
However, if you want to use your phone, you can always ask someone to allow you to go out for a brief amount of time. However, it should not be taken as a stereotype that Japanese people are all very strict, as it is industry-specific and is very common these days for companies to have a flexible work environment. For example, a few gaming companies now allow their employees to use their electronic devices.
These 4 habits of Japanese smartphone users are just some of many interesting things that are worth knowing. If you are an avid phone user, the aforementioned points might seem useful during your trip to Japan!