Traveling to Japan is one of my favourite thing to do in my life, not just because my families are there. There are a lots of interesting place to go, either big cities or country side, so many interesting stores in Tokyo, such as Hakihabara.
Every time when I visit there, the public transportation in Japan has impressed me big time, compare with one in USA or Australia. They are ON TIME ALL THE TIME!! If the time table says 10:17 am, the train arrives on 10:17!! Not 10:15, nor 10:20!! Just amazing!!
However, every time when I use public transportation, I feel sometime wrong about Japanese people. This is not disastrous view of morning rush hour that people put into train, it is about caring people.
What I found were:
Dislike mother with pram. (because pram took space for others)
You need to call them from employee at the train station if you use wheel chair to get in/out train.
Some train station even need assistance from the train station to go up/down stairs to use device.
No one willing to help people with tram or baby, or disability.
Of course you will find generous kind person time to time, but I guess they have to be lucky to meet this types of person.
Another story about public transportation in Japan is the story of “Maternity tag”. The maternity tag was introduced in 2006 by Japanese government (the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare) for pregnant woman.
This is a little tag you can put on your bag or somewhere people can see to tell people around you are pregnant and need assistant or care at the public place, such as offering a seat, offering assistant to carry bags, not smoke cigarette around them, or offering any help them might need.
(maybe similar thing for tag of “vision impairment” that it can tell people around you, you might need assistance)
When I heard about this maternity tag, I was wondering why they need to make this kind of tag for pregnant woman, even it is good idea to have. Is it common sense that you offer your seat to pregnant woman, elderly person, or who might need to sit? Why they need to disclose “Hey I need help!”? That was my first thought when I heard about this tag.
Yes, it might be good idea for some people who might not able to be identified you are pregnant, might be because shape of your stomach or something.
If you came from English speaking country, you might not able to imagine this, but in Japan (or maybe in most of Asian countries), basically they do not talk to person you do not know at the public, such as asking direction where to go, how to get train station, or even just say hi.
Maybe that is why they introduced the maternity tag, so that they do not need to say anything.
More ever, it might be good idea to tell people or public to give awareness of caring people or volunteer mind.
Japan may be a developed country in terms of economy, but it may still be a developing country in terms of volunteerism. English-speaking countries are more developed in terms of caring for and helping people.
It reminds me one of story I heard from young Japanese girl who travelled Australia. She said she was impressed by the way OZs treat people with disabilities that she never experience in Japan.
She said “many people in public, who she has never met before, just willing to help her, not just train or bus stations, but also at any public area, restaurant, shopping mall, park, etc.”
As I believe Australia is greatest country to live in the world, I was so happy to hear her story, but same time, I am really wish people in Japan will be more aware for caring people at public or having volunteer mind.