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Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/7 08:06
Ifm a mixed raced returnee that just moved back to Japan in September. As most students here do, I take the subway to school every morning. Ifve never faced any problem with language since Ifm multilingual, and fluent in Japanese. Ifd never faced anything Ifd particularly call a discrimination either, until a few days ago.

Just like every other day, I was sat on the subway, heading to school and an older gentleman stood in front of me despite numbers of seats unoccupied. I went on minding my own business, until the gentleman began kicking my left ankle quite harshly. I usually have my legs crossed tight (left knee on top of right), which doesnft take extra space, in fact take lesser space compared to many businessmen on the subway that spread their legs wide. I would understand if the sole of my shoe was brushing against him, but it wasnft any close to him, so I couldnft understand what was so wrong for him to kick on my ankle multiple times. I was brought up in Europe, I was taught that itfs well-mannered to seat with your legs crossed. Of course if the subway is crowded I wouldnft cross my legs at all since itfs definitely going to bother people around me when my shoe sole come in contact with them. I didnft like being kicked any longer and the gentleman began yelling at me calling me gdisgusting gaijinh so I uncrossed my legs and said to him gcan you not tell me in words that you donft want me crossing my legs, rather than kicking me?h He looked really annoyed that I spoke back to him, and went on saying gThatfs why I told you so!! Go back to your country you stupid American! Look what youfre doing to this country.h I did not want to continue this conversation any longer with someone that says such a thing, so I continued to ignore him. He went on kicking me every now and then, but itfs not worth wasting my time and effort to speak back to him so completely ignored him.

A few stop later, more passengers got in the subway, but unsurprisingly, no one seated next to me so there were a few seats that were unoccupied. An older women stood next to the rude gentlemen, and a few minutes later, he kicked me and yelled at me saying gWhy donft you give up your seat for her huh? Wherefs the respect!h I said to him that hefs in no position to tell me that, when therefs plenty of other seats that are available. He glared at me the whole ride until my stop, and I felt nauseous throughout it all. No one stepped in to help me in any way, everyone just pretended they didnft see anything. The police at the train station uninterestingly said to me that its unfortunate that it happened to me but itfs not something they can do anything about.

My question is, is it any disrespectful to have my legs crossed in a subway thatfs not crowded? And how do I deal with people like the gentlemen that harassed me? I would very much appreciate any opinion. Thank you.
by olivia_725 (guest)  

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/7 11:52
You should have video recorded the whole thing and posted it.
by TSE (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/7 12:05
u is it any disrespectful to have my legs crossed in a subway thatfs not crowded?v

Calling it "disrespectful" would be going too far, but most Japanese people, at least the ones who're concerned with following what mainstream Japanese society thinks of as good manners, refrain from crossing their legs on the subway. It takes up more space laterally than sitting with your legs uncrossed and knees close together, and it takes up more space in front of you as well.

Some people who are particular strict about manners think it's impolite to cross your legs even if the train isn't particularly crowded. Even if there are other seats available, a person crossing their legs is taking up more space than they would otherwise, and so people who want a seat have to move farther away to find one. In simple terms, even if there are seats to spare, some people think it's impolite to take up more than a standard one-person amount of space.

So if you cross your legs on the train, then yes, there's a pretty good chance that at least one Japanese person is going to think that's impolite. That said, kicking and yelling at someone for crossing their legs is pretty far beyond what Japanese society generally thinks is acceptable behavior, and what most people would call crazy and violent.

As to how to deal with people like the man you encountered, there isn't any uniquely Japanese way to do so, since being yelled at and kicked for a perceived lack f manners isn't something that happens very often in Japan. Your options are to continue sitting there and ignore him, continue sitting there are yell back, psychically attack him in return, report him to the rail staff/police (perhaps after filming his conduct on your phone), or to get up and move to another part of the train. As to which of those is the best course of action, that's something you're going to have to decide for yourself.
by . . . . (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/7 12:22
I'm sorry that happened to you.

Some people are the worst.

Be consoled by the fact you don't have to live with or ever see this person again.

No idea if leg crossing is rude or not, but to my (Western) ears it doesn't sound ruder than assaulting someone and shouting at them, particularly if he assumed you wouldn't understand him, and carried on even after you made it clear you did.
by Who? (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/7 12:50
Japan is Japan and Europe is Europe.
As we all may know Japan is conservative and has certain written and unwritten rules (like any country)

Crossing your legs is not the issue, but when space is not allowing this, or even the chance hitting someone accidentally can cause some issues (verbal or non verbal way)

What you learned in Europe does not mean it is polite in Japan.
(Cross cultural differences)

So if you want to prevent those situations is just see how other are doing and make yourself as compact as possible.

(BTW kicking with your foot is considered impolite)
by justmyday rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/7 13:14
Frankly I think you had the bad luck to encounter a xenophobic Japanese who did also express his views to you and attacked you (albeit lightly) physically.

So if you want to prevent those situations is just see how other are doing and make yourself as compact as possible.

I donft think that YOU could do anything. This is victim blaming. Like asking a raped woman why she was wearing a short skirt.

Yes, occupying too much space on a train is frowned upon, and for good reason in general, but from there to kicking you and attacking you racially, thatfs unacceptable as well. But a person like that if he wants to attack someone will always find something. Haircut, colour of eyes, something you eat, the way you look, a book you read... anything. But itfs him having the problem not you.

Regarding other people not helping, ask yourself, would you have stepped in if something like this had been happening to someone else? I think we are all heros in our thoughts but much less so when it comes to the situation.

by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/7 16:06
Although we do not actually know what or how, despite the OP wrote down, I agree physical violence is not accepted. I think you could stand up for yourself but without knowing what actual happened it is difficult.

I have often space for myself.
I take one seat read my book in the train but often no person comes sitting next to me.
It is a well known and I do not complain. I am tall (2.1 meters) and because I do a lot of fitness my shoulders are wide. So yes it can happen to bounce in to someone if they sit next to me.

I have met so many rude persons on the train or subway, but often it is easy to blame a foreigner.

And that nobody helps you is nowadays normal .
I agree with likebike writing.
by justmyday rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/7 18:32
"which doesnft take extra spaceh
when you cross your leg, you take extra space in front of your body, as you can seen in the pictures.
http://www.ksgarage.net/wordpress/2009/08/06/%E5%BE%AE%E7%86%B1%E5%A4%...
http://90dayslife.blog.fc2.com/blog-entry-627.html
when you are larger than averages of Japaneses, you take more space than those in the pictures.

https://petitwings.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/toranpu02.png
there are arguments that it is impolite that Mrs. Trump crossed her legs in the official meeting with the EMPEROR.
by ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/7 19:25
The only reason I did not record any video footage was because I was afraid he would attack me if he realize Ifm recording him.

So if you want to prevent those situations is just see how other are doing and make yourself as compact as possible.

I am a petite female (4f11), and I know I should not get in the way of people on subways, therefore, when I cross my legs I donft stretch my other leg into the passage. I close my legs tight. The only thing is that I was unaware that crossing legs were frowned upon here in Japan, since Ifve seen many Japanese do it on subways too. That lead to me assuming it was okay to cross my legs as well.
by olivia_725 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/7 19:36
uThe only thing is that I was unaware that crossing legs were frowned upon here in Japan, since Ifve seen many Japanese do it on subways too. That lead to me assuming it was okay to cross my legs as well.v

In a way, it's sort of like picking your nose. Yes, you'll definitely see people doing it, but that's not because it's accepted, and since even crossing your legs tightly takes up, comparatively, more space than sitting with them not crossed, it's generally frowned upon.
by . . . . (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/7 19:51
There have always been mature/elderly men who frown upon women crossing their legs as gimprudenth or gacting like a man,h or whatsoever. (I was once glared at by a man across in a very un-crowded train; I tried uncrossing my legs and his frown stopped, and I crossed them again and he glared again lol.)
And recently there are elderly (really senior) men who like to think they are better than others or they have all the rights in the world only because they are elder, and act as if they can gteach others manners,h and act stupidly and rudely toward others, particularly toward younger women who (they think) wonft argue back or physically hit back.

You just bumped into a really bad apple. Sorry it happened to you.
by AK rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/10 07:23
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agura
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seiza
From history, you can guess the possible origin of his displeasure...
by Adorable (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/10 10:16
I always get annoyed when someone crosses their legs because not only does it take up more room in front of them, the leg and foot ends up sticking out in front of the person sitting next to you, like the foot almost touches the person sitting on one side. People that have crossed their legs sitting next to me have gotten real close to touching the bottom of their shoe on my skirt/leg area or bag on my lap, so crossing your legs actually doesn't take up less room on the sides either, no one wants someone elses foot/shoe in their face/lap. But that grandpa did overreact , I would of just got up and went to a different car since stooping to an angry persons level and fighting back could end up where that person can pull out a knife or some other attack you never know with strangers, so best to ignore them and get away from them.
by jenn (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/10 11:11
there are always people who are complaining.

Crossing legs which may take space. ( I do think for woman sitting crossed legged is save to keep perverts away from looking into skirts)

Man sitting with legs wide open because some think they need the space there

People putting bags on the seat next to them

Young people sitting on priority seats and not standing up and using phone

People falling a sleep and rest their head against you

People who are not taking shower it seems (Some are stinking a lot)

the list can go on.

You had a bad experience and you may have more in the future.
Often I wonder why often foreigners are being blamed since gross of the people using the public transport is local and also don't consider well about others.
by justmyday rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/10 11:23
@justmyday - I am a female and wear skirts and your excuse for women to cross your legs is nonsense, just keep your legs forwards and closed, it takes up the least room, even women practically touch other people with their shoes too, I had many instances of other ladies rubbing the bottom of their shoe on my knees, doesn't matter the gender, and crossing your legs actually might give someone a view underneath not prevent it. I keep my legs closed and forward, and I wear leggings with the skirts so there is nothing to see anyway. Both genders should keep their legs closed and forward, it takes up the least room.
by Ashley (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/10 11:52
Again not reading well: I never said woman should need to cross legs

I said "I do think for woman sitting crossed legged is save to keep perverts away from looking into skirts"

This is two different meanings and you should not accuse someone if you do not understand, but confirm the meaning. This way the world would be a much better place.
by justmyday rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/10 15:32
Follow up question.

My husband isn't particularly tall-a shade under 180cm-but he has ridiculously long legs, and quite small feet. The result is, when sitting in right back in some train seats in Japan, with feet together and flat on the floor, tucked in tight, his knees (bony, very bony) stick out beyond the ends of his feet.

Any thoughts on how to avoid giving the discomfort these (apparently) inappropriate protuberances must cause some fellow commuters?
by Who? (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/10 16:21
@justmyday When you write that, it is seen as a reason to give an excuse, you did not imply in the original message that it didn't. And that is why I said "Crossing your legs actually might give someone a view underneath not prevent it" you also did not read everything I wrote. If you wear a knee length skirt or shorter, crossing your legs would actually lift your skirt causing a chance of actually seeing something. Keeping your legs forward and together would show nothing and also is kinder to everyone sitting and standing around you.
by Ashley (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/11 08:19
@Who?
uwhen sitting in right back in some train seats in Japan, with feet together and flat on the floor, tucked in tight, his knees (bony, very bony) stick out beyond the ends of his feet.
Any thoughts on how to avoid giving the discomfort these (apparently) inappropriate protuberancesv

That shouldn't be a problem. The whole reason crossing your legs is seen as poor manners on Japanese trains is because it takes up more room that siting with your legs uncrossed. In other words, choosing to sit with your legs crossed is choosing to sit in a way that takes up more space than you would otherwise.

In your husband's case, he's taking up more space simply by nature of having long legs. That's not a choice on his part, and so no reasonable person would say the protuberance he's creating is "inappropriate" as long as he's sitting in a way that takes up the smallest space possible for him, which it sounds like he's doing.
by . . . . (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Crossing legs in subway 2019/10/11 11:45
To "Who?" with the follow-up question,

You may want to start a new thread for your own question, but your husband can avoid taking space by trying to sit at the edge of the train wagons where there will be less people going back and forth. And I also agree to the other "guest" that taking space and having good manners are two different stories.

To Justmyday,

Often I wonder why often foreigners are being blamed since gross of the people using the public transport is local and also don't consider well about others.

I don't feel that foreigners are particularly being blamed compared to any local. Maybe you just don't read much of Japanese websites where the Japanese complain about being blamed, and I myself, a Japanese-looking Japanese adult and resident, have been warned impolitely multiple times about my behavior when all they had to do was to talk to me to correct our misunderstanding.

In fact, I've even once warned a foreign brat with terrible behavior who claimed he had been living in Japan for so many years and it was the first time he was being warned for his behavior. I was pretty mild and clear against him, by the way.

I'm really sorry if foreign kids get less opportunity to learn, although I'm much more sorry that the OP had to learn it the hard way. And she's absolutely right: When you're uncomfortable about something, all you have to do is to step up and say it politely in Japanese. To add, I myself experienced the culture shock of the crossing-legs manner when I had just come back to Japan as a child after living abroad. Thankfully, it was my mother who warned me first.
by Uco rate this post as useful

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