Who gets the priority seat?

This is a quiz. An elderly couple, an obese woman, and a young man get on the bus. There’s only one priority seat. Who will get it? If you said the young man, congratulate yourself!

On Friday, my wife, daughter and I were going to Tsujido by bus, and we were both in priority seats. I was holding my daughter, so I had every right to sit there. The above mentioned people got on the bus, and my wife stood up. She asked me to move to her seat so one of the elderly people could sit in my seat. I did so, and who took my seat? The selfish, fit young man. He had no decency to let an elderly person sit there. My wife was quite angry about it.

That’s not the only ridiculous thing I’ve seen. On a train, I saw a pregnant woman in front of the only open seat. She was in the process of sitting down when a businessman took that opportunity to slip behind her and sit down before she could. I was hoping she would’ve punched him. He deserved to be thrown out of the train. Absolutely disgusting.

What’s your best story of idiocy and lack of humanity on a bus or train?

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Who gets the priority seat?

  1. This is something I really have trouble understanding about Japanese people. It goes against their usual behavior in most circumstances (or I’m missing something, after all, I’m still a newbie here).

    I never experience something similar (yet), I guess they’re quite rare in Kagawa where public transportation are rarely that crowded (except maybe trains during rush hour, I don’t know I never took it then).
    However, when my wife was pregnant, we were in Okayama for the day, and yeah, the train was very crowded and some very healthy 10 year old kids were seated on the priority seats. I made them get up quite quickly. Their mom told them to get up too, but only after I said something. Sure they were kids, I don’t blame them for sitting there. Their mom on the other hand (she was standing, but she’s the one who made them sit there).

    • When my wife was pregnant, she only seemed to get good treatment on buses. Never on the train. So many people ignored her and pretended to sleep. They give seats to the elderly and women with babies, but not to pregnant women. It’s ridiculous.

  2. “It goes against their usual behavior”

    Been here off and mostly on for 7 years Dave and I have no idea what that means? What is “usual”?
    What sites did you visit before coming to Japan? It’s another country with it’s own unique culture and it’s own special kinda ignorance.

    • “Their usual behavior” is one of being usually polite, courteous and even caring for each other. The keyword here being “usual”; i.e. no I’m not falling into stereotyping and saying that all Japanese people do this or that. I say that they usually are respectful to each other, so some behaviors like the whole priority seat thing is quite surprising to me.

      • Here in Kanagawa, it is extremely common for people to be rude like that. Tokyo, too. On public transportation, people become very selfish and disrespectful. That is actually usual. Maybe since Kagawa is much more countryside, people are more polite. But in the big cities, they only care about themselves and are blind to everyone else.

        • But do you mean, are they rude to each other not in public transportation too?

          • I’ve seen an elderly woman fall in the middle of a street while nearly every person just walked past her, ignoring her. I’ve been told it’s because they don’t want to make the situation more embarrassing for her. More likely, they just don’t want to get involved and be delayed. It’s usually other elderly people who will help out. Businessmen seem to be the worst.

          • I think the problem in big cities is that everyone is in a hurry and they don’t want to be inconvenienced. Small towns seem to have much nicer people.

  3. tom

    I know about the priority seating, but it doesn’t make much sense to me. If there is an empty seat an old person/pregnant lady/handicapped person gets first choice on the seat then i can take one. not just the one closest to the window or however it goes.

    • Yokohama city subway ran a program that designated every seat in the trains as priority seats. However, it made no difference. In fact, it seemed that it did the opposite, and people were more intent on keeping their seats.

  4. That’s terrible. Actually, it should not be priority seats, if you see an elderly person or pregnant woman standing, you should always offer them your seat – that’s just common courtesy. I have to give credit to my parents to taught me well or were good role models, which I try to be with my own son.

    • I agree. On that bus trip, an elderly man gave up his seat for an elderly woman who was clearly more able bodied than him. She protested, but he said it’s fine, and that he’s only 84 years old.

  5. absolutelycheryl

    This kind of thing happen in Singapore too. There was much hype over an incident that happen on our train recently.

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