In Japan, even the train evacuations are orderly

Image: YouTube/神戸新聞社

TOKYO —

After these passengers got stranded, they walked the rest of the way in such a precise line they practically became a train themselves.

As reliable as Japan’s public transportation system is, with so many trains running from morning to night, eventually some sort of problem is going to occur. Passengers heading to work or school in central Kobe had their commute interrupted at approximately 8 a.m. on November 16, when it was discovered that an overhead line had snapped on the Japan Railways (JR) Kobe Line between Kobe and Motomachi Stations.

No one was injured, but train service was suspended while a repair crew investigated and responded to the issue. Seeing that the repairs would take some time to complete, some 5,000 passengers were instructed to leave the carriages, which were stopped in an empty stretch of the tracks, and walk to the nearest station, as directed by JR staff who were on the scene.

With no one in any danger, it’s not surprising that the evacuation went calmly. But even still, it’s impressive to see just how disciplined and organized the process was.

The entire groups walks forward in a single-file line, diligently stepping only in the middle of the train tracks like they’ve all decided to play the hot lava game and that’s the only safe zone.

So what’s the secret to this state of calm? Is it a reflection of Japan’s cultural attitudes about not doing anything to rock the boat when in a crowd? Maybe it’s a happy side effect of this happening to people on their way to work instead of their way home? After all, for many people a morning stroll is more enjoyable than a morning meeting at the office.

Both of those factors probably played a role, but we think what really sealed the deal is the Japan Railways representative who shows up on the platform at the video’s 0:27 mark, ready to apologize to those who were inconvenienced and hook them up with bottles of tea, which he opens for each person who walks by. Because hey, on the occasions when you can’t be punctual, you may as well be classy.

Source: Kaigai no Hanno

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  • 7

    miyakojimadan

    I think in a country like Japan that has suffered so many natural disasters they have come to the conclusion that chaos does not solve anything. Being orderly is the best policy.

  • 18

    Moonraker

    Where would it be any different? Perhaps not the tea but what else could you do except get out the train and walk along the track to the station? Does the writer of this think people would be running in all directions or jumping over the walls onto the road below?

  • -11

    Peeping_Tom

    "Where would it be any different?"

    Have you ever seen any recent train evacuations in London????

    I guess NOT!!!

  • 8

    igloobuyer

    Totally the same in most countries. What happened in London?

  • 12

    Moonraker

    Perhaps you need to describe them for us then, Peeping Tom, so we can be shown that society outside Japan is ill-disciplined and anarchic.

  • 4

    SenseNotSoCommon

    More doe-eyed Gaihonjinron from RN. Thanks, Casey, we love it!

  • 4

    safinator

    lovely day for a walk anyhows

  • 10

    browny1

    As moonraker said.

    I'm sure most places in the world in which a similar logistic operation would take place, where the only safe route was on a desiginated track as other lines were still operating, I think you'd find the same behaviour.

    To somehow suggest that foreigners - nj - would embark on a free-for-all across active lines just seems extremely naive.

  • 6

    igloobuyer

    Give me a break, look the only difference in human behavior here compared with other countries is that nobody is talking to anyone else and they are mostly expressionless.

  • 3

    Roger Jolly

    C'mon, give me a break...! Igloobuyer said it perfectly. Beside, where else would you expect them to go from a Japanese rail? Usually they are suspended or fenced. Some metropolitan rails can give you access to a crossing, wherefrom you could leave more quickly... But knowing how Japanese are scared to transgress guidance when it comes to the 'holy rail' they would avoided it on their initiative if told to head back to platform, I am sure. By the way, did the station have ready at hand 5000 bottles of tea? Did I read that well?! I would be more impressed by that than for the line...!

  • 2

    Odentime

    Give me a break, look the only difference in human behavior here compared with other countries is that nobody is talking to anyone else and they are mostly expressionless.

    Japanese don't usually socialize outside their little social circles. The affable ones you see outside Japan or on a night out in Roppongi are the exception.

    You've got to remember, this the country which chose to isolate itself from the world for 250 years and relied on their ancestral clans and lands to better themselves within their designated castes.

  • 3

    Farmboy

    The biggest difference is that the train company took responsibility for the problem and apologized.

  • 1

    philly1

    The practice of overnight walks during elementary school might also play a role in the training of individuals to quietly get on with doing the best they can in an extra-ordinary or emergency situation. You accept the situation and do what you gotta do quietly and efficiently.

  • -8

    Alex80

    So many people got mad at an innocent news that praises Japanese people. Both you agree or disagree with the news, try to think why you feel this rage. It's unhealthy, you know.

  • 2

    Pau Pau Tähdenlento

    I wish in Mexico they could behave this well and workers to be this polite... the best you can hope in an evacuation is not to get stumped by and leave as fast as yuo can to avoid the most damage to you or to your belongings.. in Mexico we don't keep calm and always think selfishly,this is so sad really.

  • 0

    igloobuyer

    Pau Pau TähdenlentoNOV. 22, 2015 - 04:50AM JST I wish in Mexico they could behave this well and workers to be this polite... the best you can hope in an evacuation is not to get stumped by and leave as fast as yuo can to avoid the most damage to you or to your belongings.. in Mexico we don't keep calm and always think selfishly,this is so sad really.

    Don't feel so sad, people on public transport in Japan can be pretty selfish too, and hey, Mexicans are among the most lively and friendly people in the world - can't all be perfect like us kiwis now can we! ;)

  • 2

    JeffLee

    Happens a lot in other countries too. In Hither Green in London a couple of years ago, the train caught fire. Not only did passengers evacuate themselves calmly, some went to other carriages to inform other passengers farther back what was going on.

    However, no one is going to write an article praising the British national character, etc. Japan is a country in love with itself.

  • 5

    WarwickNchuaa

    I think this is a wonderful example of what makes Japan so uniquely special in all things. The uniquest country ever in the whole world.

    Where else in the world would a group of people with no option but to walk in a straight line, walk in a straight line?

    Where I come from, they'd probably be abseiling down the side of the bridge or levitating in all directions and causing disharmony.

    Then again, they might be speaking to each other as they did so.

  • 0

    Sassenach

    Does the writer of this think people would be running in all directions or jumping over the walls onto the road below?

    I do. In fact, I would be one of the first to jump over the fence if it brought me closer to my intended destination.

    In fact, I know that Japanese people will wait several hours in a stopped carriage without even any clear announcement as to what is happening, but I think most nationalities would be taking matters into their own hands much sooner.

    Usually obedience and patience are the best overall policy. But there certainly are cases where panic would have served better. One of these days there is going to be a massive earthquake and hordes of Japanese will die for refusing take steps to protect themselves and/or escape. Japanese often walk when they should be running.

  • 4

    Lost-in-Nagoya

    Does the writer of this think people would be running in all directions or jumping over the walls onto the road below? Worse than that. In Rio de Janeiro they break and loot.

  • 4

    igloobuyer

    Alex80NOV. 22, 2015 - 01:41AM JST So many people got mad at an innocent news that praises Japanese people. Both you agree or disagree with the news, try to think why you feel this rage. It's unhealthy, you know.

    I suggest projection on your part - don't think anyone is 'enraged' by the article at all, just they notice the ridiculousness of suggesting that walking in a straight line down a railway track is somehow 'unique culture', which of course, it is not.

  • -2

    Alex80

    I suggest projection on your part - don't think anyone is 'enraged' by the article at all, just they notice the ridiculousness of suggesting that walking in a straight line down a railway track is somehow 'unique culture', which of course, it is not.

    If this article was about some bad news, many users would say "only in Japan".

  • 1

    lostrune2

    Heheheh they don't want to step on the 3rd rail

  • 2

    Farmboy

    One of these days there is going to be a massive earthquake and hordes of Japanese will die for refusing take steps to protect themselves and/or escape

    When instead they should loot businesses, or break into the homes of neighbors? They usually wait because someone usually helps. I wouldn't call it obedience as much as trust. Sometimes that won't work, but in a disaster, it's hard to know which direction will get you into trouble. Just running doesn't always have a good result either.

  • 2

    tinawatanabe

    Usually obedience and patience are the best overall policy. But there certainly are cases where panic would have served better. One of these days there is going to be a massive earthquake and hordes of Japanese will die for refusing take steps to protect themselves and/or escape. Japanese often walk when they should be running.

    Most victims of Tohoku tsunami were the people who ignored the evacuation order.

  • 2

    wtfjapan

    that chaos does not solve anything. Being orderly is the best policy. when the tsunami waves come ashore there was nothing orderly about it, its was run for your life , sadly many didnt make it, being orderly meant you drowned. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTb15kJoyc8

  • 1

    Sarunghakan Feng

    Considering the situation, there isn't a need for panic. It isn't a disaster, or an actual calamity of sorts. I wondered what happened to the people who were in urgent situations? Would they rush themselves?

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