Barrier Free Japan Travel

‘Keep-the-way-open’ rule on escalators at train stations in Japan remains a barrier to people with disabilities

Escalators at train stations in Japan suggest that on one side it is acceptable to stand and that it is acceptable to move on the other side. In Tokyo you stand on the left, leaving the right side free for people move, whilst in Osaka, the etiquette is reversed, you stand on the right side, leaving the left side for people to walk quickly. However, such an arrangement makes it difficult for people with disabilities to use escalators, especially at train stations where people are often in a rush.

By Barrier free Japan

November 29 2021

SAITAMA/OSAKA/HYOGO – Escalators at train stations in Japan suggest that on one side it is acceptable to stand and that it is acceptable to move on the other side. In Tokyo you stand on the left, leaving the right side free for people move, whilst in Osaka, the etiquette is reversed, you stand on the right side, leaving the left side for people to walk quickly. However, such an arrangement makes it difficult for people with disabilities to use escalators, especially at train stations where people are often in a rush.

According to the Asahi Shimbun, the difficulty that people with disabilities face has led Saitama Prefecture to introduce an ordinance to require people to “stand still on escalators, and railway operators are calling for proper use of those kind of steps.”

There is an advertising campaign at JR stations both in Saitama and the Kansai region suggesting through posters that people stand rather than walk saying ‘do not walk, stand still’ and ‘escalator use reform.’ However, The report from the Asahi adds that “[d]espite all that, little has changed about escalator etiquette.”

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