Escalator In Japan: Do Not Ride In The Middle?

Escalators are used around the world in places where elevators would be impractical.
Principal areas of usage include department stores, shopping malls, airports, transit systems (railway/railroad stations), convention centers, hotels, arenas, stadiums, and public buildings.

An escalator is a vertical transportation device in the form of a moving staircase – a conveyor that carries people between floors of a building.

Like vending machines, canned coffee, and convenience stores, escalators seem to be ubiquitous in modern Japan.

This is especially true in Tokyo, with its many multi-storied buildings with basements, and if you take public transportation, as you descend (and ascend) into the deep underground to ride on the many subway trains.


Does the rule exist?

In most major countries, there is an expectation that escalator users wishing to stand will keep to one side to allow others to overtake them.

There is little correspondence between elevator etiquette and which side of the road traffic drives on in a particular country.
Practice may also differ from city to city within countries.
In Osaka in Japan, riders stand on the right, whereas in Tokyo (and most other Japanese cities), riders stand on the left side of the escalator.


Safety measure

As a safety measure, escalators are required to have moving handrails that keep pace with the movement of the steps.
This helps riders steady themselves, especially when stepping onto the moving stairs.



The shortest escalator in the world is the "Puchicalator" in the Okadaya Mores shopping mall in Kawasaki Japan. Its vertical rise is only 32.8 inches (83 cm) and has 5 steps.

Japan's escalators are a microcosm of Japanese society -- uniqueness and creativity, but we also see Japan's politeness, manners, and even customer service all on moving steps.
Because of accidents, East Japan Railway is now asking commuters to stop walking or running up and down escalators.
Serious accidents in the JR East area have reached more than 250 a year, or roughly one for every working day of the year. Many more accidents, however, go unreported.

The increasing number of accidents inside the train and subway stations has been attributed mainly to passengers walking or running on escalators.

Do you like taking escalators? Or do you prefer walking or taking the elevator?

  • この記事を書いた人


I am a Japanese living in Mie prefecture. I work in a supermarket. You will often find information about Japan from anime and manga. However, in reality, it is slightly different. I want to convey the true Japanese culture and lifestyle.