Japan is a country notorious for its high level of politeness. However, deep within its tangled, serpentine train system, common courtesy is often cast aside and Thunderdome rules apply. I’ve seen grown men push aside old ladies and old ladies push aside me in order to get the best spot.
This being the case, Tokyo Metropolitan Area’s rail companies and the city itself began to spread over 5,000 posters calling for passengers to give some leeway to women with baby carriages. As a result, they have received over 1,000 complaints and growing.
The poster, which can be seen throughout the greater Tokyo area reads “Please be mindful of baby carriages getting on and off the train. Thank you for your consideration of those around you.”
Apparently, those were fightin’ words for other commuters many of whom had their own run-ins with strollers. Each train company operating in the area were flooded with calls and emails from passengers who would beg to differ.
The most common complaint was that the strollers used “clog up the aisles” for everyone else. Toei Subway heard feedback ranging from “I get hit in the foot by those things” to “they stand in front of the doorways and don’t even use the handrails.”
“Because of these posters the people with strollers are getting even more brazen” said one fed-up commuter to JR East along with “you ought to make a poster telling them to fold up their strollers.”
Actually, up until 1999, it was required that baby strollers be folded up when on board the trains. The major train companies later made allowances to let strollers be unfolded if and when “it was not a bother to other passengers” on the requests of many mothers.
The total deregulation of baby buggies came as part of the government’s overarching strategy to combat population decline. Their goal is to make being a parent as pleasant an experience as possible.
While the city wants to make sure new mothers are able to get out of the house once in a while and avoid going stir crazy, the train companies are hearing the public’s outcry loud and clear.
Some companies will be instructing workers to ask passengers with strollers to make sure they aren’t blocking any passageways. There will also be some counter-point pamphlets asking parents to be considerate of the other passengers on trains. They will be handed out at locations like day care centers.
A major cause of this friction may be a result of the carriages getting bigger year by year. When I was a youngin’ strollers were little more than miniature lawn chairs. Nowadays they look like little mobile command units.