Why It’s Illegal to Walk on Saitama, Japan Escalators

In This Japanese Prefecture, It’s Illegal to Walk Up and Down Escalators

During fast-paced hours in Japan, workers seem to be less mindful about the safe use of public facilities.

By most countries’ standards, Japan is synonymous with innovation and order, priding itself for having the most respectful citizens, state-of-the-art public transportation, and unconventional local customs, to name a few. For all we know, the country considers these things cliché. And what we know to be inventive is a mere token gesture for the Japanese.

In Japan, we know that it’s considered rude to tip restaurant staff and talk loudly while on a train. But another thing that this country is known for that you might not be aware of? They forbid people from walking up and down Japan escalators. This is exactly what’s up in the Japanese prefecture of Saitama, just northwest of the capital city of Tokyo.

Also read: 15 Don’ts You Should Know While Visiting Japan

Escalator-related behaviour and accidents

According to the Japan Elevator Association via Sora News, the country has previously recorded a little over 800 accidents that took place on Japan escalators. The majority of them are caused by people who do not stand still and hold handrails while riding the moving staircases. These especially happen during Japan’s notorious rush hours, wherein shoving and tripping have become inevitable.

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During fast-paced hours in Japan, Japanese workers also seem to be less mindful about the safe use of public facilities.

“Manners are usually created through people’s behavior and thinking, so it’s a little disappointing that this time they need to be stipulated in an ordinance,” Edogawa University cultural anthropologist Masakazu Toki told NHK. “However, there have been calls for this for over 10 years and little has changed, so I appreciate that this was established. The ordinance respects autonomy rather than surveillance and penalties.”

Also read: 10-Day Japan Itinerary: Travel From Osaka to Tokyo Through Hokuriku

No-walk etiquette in Japan escalators

To further avoid escalator-related injuries, a Saitama prefectural assembly enforced a no-walk ordinance for escalators. The assembly mostly comprises members of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party. The ordinance states that commuters throughout the prefecture must stand still while they’re on the machine. Effective from 1 Oct 2021, it is the first policy of its kind to materialise in Japan. From a video report by ANN News, initial signages can be seen in various public areas in Saitama.

Image credit: Ian Valerio

As with other Japan commuting policies, the ordinance does not require authorities to directly punish violators of the no-walk etiquette on Japan escalators. Instead, it mainly hopes to spread awareness (through widespread reminders, for one). By doing so, it would encourage people to be more considerate of others, particularly the elderly and physically challenged.

Besides Saitama’s working population, the prefecture is also frequented by tourists based in Tokyo. The latter is only about 30 kilometres away. Its main attractions include a popular museum of historic Japan trains in the capital of Saitama City, beautifully preserved Edo-era buildings in Kawagoe City, and the Iwadatami rock formations in Chichibu City.


Featured image credit: Takosan via Canva Pro

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Joser Ferreras
Joser Ferreras

Joser writes about travel, people, and business. A former researcher, he wants to debunk the old saying 'write what you know' by acknowledging that good content is also the outcome of one's openness to learn something new.

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