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Rudeness 2005/11/17 15:23
Ifm a Japanese student. Recently, when I was in the train, I saw two persons from abroad, who spoke English. They took pictures in the train, and they took some shots of my without permission. I had a similar experience many times, and every time I was taken pictures of, I am irritated. I think it is rude to take pictures of others without permission. Is it because Ifm Japanese, or is it also rude in foreign counties?
by mara  

tourists 2005/11/17 17:53
Yes it is rude, anywhere , to take a direct picture of someone without there permission. But maybe these people where not deliberately taking you but their general surroundings. I live in an area of England where we have many tourists and especially Japanese and they arrive with their cameras and take hundreds of pictures but never ask permission. I have just returned from my first visit of Japan and everything is so differnet that I wanted to take many pictures to show people at home but because I was 'the different person' all the time I didn't take many photos as I felt intimadated and knew I couldn't ask everyone that would have been in my picture. Everytime my flash went off I felt it was intrusive to the people around so I have found it very difficult to try and make people at home understand many of the things I saw in Japan.
Please be tolerant and remember that tourists are trying to capture an image of a strange and alien culture that is also beautiful and friendly.
by older traveller rate this post as useful

.. 2005/11/18 01:45
I understand how you feel. I live in the United States in a popular tourist area, so we have tourist taking pictures of people all the time, I had someone take a picture of me waiting for the metro. So yes it is rude in other parts of the world too.
So I understand how you may feel irritated. Its that tourists just don't know any better to do it more discrete as not to bother people.
by .. rate this post as useful

Advice 2005/11/18 13:28
I'll be a tourist in Japan next month. I want to have lots of memories from the trip, but I don't want to upset the people around me. Should I only take pictures with flash if it's ABSOLUTELY necessary? Do I just take the picture even if it will be annoying? :-/
by Jeff rate this post as useful

.. 2005/11/18 14:26
Its not a matter of flash, its just plane rude to take photos of people without permission (this is anywhere in the world, imagine if someone just took picture of you, you don't know who they are, or what they will do with the image.)

In anycase if its a must, do it descretely, don't stand 2 feet away from someone and take a picture.

As for flash photography, flash photography is prohibted at some places, if taking photos at night, try using high speed film, or adjusting the camera manually.
by .. rate this post as useful

Photos 2005/11/21 18:16
I agree it is rude to take photos of someone without asking, but wonder why Mara has been singled out? I confess I was tempted to photograph a wedding party at Nikko and the first few people I saw in Kimonos.

Like "older traveller" I live in an area which has a great many tourists and the most noticable are from the United States and Japan, probably because European visitors do not use coach tours as much.

I probably feature in many photos as a passer by, but although I at times I find some visitors bad mannered and intrusive no one has ever directly taken a photo of me. I am obviously not interesting enough! :-)

I have found, whilst visiting Japan, that, unlike in Europe or the USA, there are so many things which to me are very different. I am beinging to understand the impact of my area to visitors. I have resolved to be more tolerent in future, and to try to approach and talk to more visitors.
by apples rate this post as useful

Yeah, Apples, but... 2005/11/21 23:36
The train is not a tour bus, a touristy place or a common place for taking photos. It's public transportation, and people are commuting passengers, if upon boarding an airplane or on the greyhound bus, people started standing up in the aisle and wanted to take a picture of their first trip on a plane or the inside of the bus, many people would get angry, and they probably would say something to the rude passengers. Try taking pictures on a New York subway hehehe. Mara's English is good, I don't know why she doesn't muster the guts to point it out when these tourists do this. May be she's afraid of foriegners, and thinks we all act rude and stupid, and if she were to say something, they would pull out a gun and shoot her. Marasan next time a tourist is taking pictures on the train or subway, tell them that you don't appreciate being photographed, they shouldn't do it and that it is rude in Japan. They probably will apologize and not do it again.
by sarahck rate this post as useful

Sarahck 2005/11/22 04:07
Your post seems rather intolerant. Public transport or not it is very different in Japan to anywhere else and I certainly wanted to be able to show my family and colleagues at home this amazing system. One thing that the Japanese person who hasn't travelled out of the country should be aware of is that their countrymen(and women) are guilty of taking pictures and nowadays vidieoing everything everywhere all the time when abroad. In England we tolerate it as we are aware that we have a beautiful country with lots of history and people want to take a reminder of this home.
I certainly asked in Japan when I wanted to take specific people but I know I missed many many pictures because I was almost too sensitive to the cultural feelings of my host country.
by older traveller rate this post as useful

... 2005/11/22 08:29
if you are a girl, then yes they are doing something wrong. i have seen too many hentai gaijin in my life in japan. they often sit on the train and take panchira shots of girls. its really discusting! but then its rude to take pictures of boys too without thier permission
by ... rate this post as useful

To older traveller. 2005/11/23 00:20
If you are guilty of this, and don't feel that you were rude in any way, why did you claim that it was rude in your origional post? There's nothing wrong with taking pictures in Japan, but taking photos of the inside of the train, subway, bus, etc, while using the tired tourist excuse, it's rude anyways, if Japanese people do it in other countries it's rude too. I have never seen a foriegner taking pictures of the inside of a bus, train, or subway since visiting and living in Japan. Most foreigners who come even on a first time visit, have a little more sense and consideration not to flash pictures on the train. My mom and dad came to visit us, it was their first time to Japan. My mom took pictures of everything, and used up twelve rolls of film, but she never thought of getting a picture of the inside of the train or subway. You just don't flash photography on public transportation. Of course I and many other people are intolerant to that kind of rudeness. Being a tourist is a tired excuse for invading other people's personal space while visiting their country. You also should note that Japanese people are people, and if you wouldn't take pictures on a public transit in the U.K. without asking the passengers for permission, you shouldn't do it anywhere else as well.
by sarahck rate this post as useful

sarahck 2005/11/23 00:51
No I didn't take photos on public transport--I wanted to because, as I said, it was so different. I was and always have been very sensitive to the cultural aspects of any host country. But there really shouldn't be a problem with general photos, not aimed at anyone in particular when a visitor is trying to take what amount to 'views' of the inside of a different bus system or train system
by older traveller rate this post as useful

To older traveller. 2005/11/23 01:39
You keep contradicting yourself. You said that you had enough consideration not to take photos while riding the train, even though you wanted to. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do it, and that you didn't do it was very considerate of you. What do you expect me to say? Am I to say that tourists in the light of being mere tourists have the right to annoy and make local people feel uncomfortable when going to other places? Are you saying that even though you show consideration to the countries and cultures you visit, people who don't show consideration shouldn't be considered rude, just what exactly are you arguing about?
by sarahck rate this post as useful

. 2005/11/23 02:10
I usually don't venture into the other forums, but a search for the word "train" somehow I ended up here.

As a railfan I see many people take photos of the exterior of a train (usually the front or back of the train), if there's a special train you might notice a lot of camera toting folks at one end of the train platform waiting for the train to arrive.

Trains in Japan aren't too different from the rest of the world, the technology and how they run the railroad is advanced and more different, though one doesn't need to take a picture of the passengers to show it its different.

However, I too think it is rude to take photos of someone without their permission, ie I'm riding inside the train and someone snaps a picture of me (I'm not Japanese). Flash photography inside public transit is a no no by any world's standard. Ever have a flash go off while driving your car?

Another problem I see (not related to trains) that I could understand people find annoying is the obvious "in your face" approch some people like to take, with flash and all. What could be more rude than someone sticking a camera right at you and snapping away.

I agree with another person, if its a must do photography, do it under the radar (though I wouldn't recommend anyways).

There's nothing wrong with taking photos in Japan, its how you take those photos and what you take them of that makes it annoying.

I'm not japanese but I can understand the feelings of people and how it can be rude and annoying when you find someone taking a photo of you specifically without permission.
by railfan rate this post as useful

. 2005/11/23 02:24
Rereading the original post, I have no doubts that the photographers she was talking about were taking photos directly at her and not the general surroundings (as another poster mentioned).

I guess an very good example would be if you see someone wearing a kimono on a train (this is a very different thing from your home country, and makes for a nice photograph) I have seen people specifically target that person for photographs without asking, it doesn'hurt to ask, some might think its cool and agree, some might not want their photogrpahs taken, ask first and respect their wishes. Just ask if they don't want then its ok, I've seen folks just take photos, ask and insist, but don't take the time to see if its really ok.
by railfan rate this post as useful

specific vs general 2005/11/23 13:44
it always helps to ask. if you're not sure, just ask. most japanese are very obliging.

of course, you can't avoid taking pictures where bystanders happen to be in the way, but i'm sure they'll understand. if they show any sign of discomfort, then go over and ask them if it's ok.

better still, memorize the phrase in japanese. i've asked all sorts of people (especially shopkeepers, schoolgirls, and in a rare case a maiko), and it's always a good way to get a smile from them.
by Ling rate this post as useful

... 2005/11/26 02:36
Hello, although itfs rude taking photos of people and itfs very annoying, but when I was in Japan Japanese ppl took pictures of I all the time .I had Japanese Koreans ask to take pictures with me all the time. A lot of ppl took pictures of me when I posed for personal photos .I also had ppl take photos of me and then give me a copy of the photo (donft know how they did that). I understand that they might find foreigners different/interesting. But what I find really rude is when ppl force themselves in to your pictures and insist on take pictures of/with you.
I know it is very annoying but ppl should be more considerate to why others might tale pictures of them although I think that sick old men should be stopped.
by mai rate this post as useful

I have one question 2005/12/24 04:25
I'm going to Japan on a kind of exchange program. Do many people speak english? Or is it mostly Japanese. If its mostly Japanese, how do I ask someone if I can take a picture? All I know how to say is Arigato and Omnegaishimasu.
by Samantha rate this post as useful

Photo OK? 2005/12/24 04:58
This doesn't have to be very elaborate as gestures will take you far. You're not carrying on a conversation in this case.

Say "shashin?" and motion to your camera and to the person. Even "OK?" with the gesture will get the meaning across. And you'll be able to tell from the reaction whether it's okay or not.
by watagei rate this post as useful

.. 2005/12/24 05:51
Here's a tip no matter what country or language people speak, universal hand gestures.

Show your camera and point and usually people get the point of what you're trying to ask, thats a universal thing I have noticed traveling the world.
by john rate this post as useful

Like I said 2005/12/24 07:41
I was avoiding saying "point", and I would avoid pointing. An open hand gesture does the job and is much less confrontative and is friendlier most places in the world.
by watagei rate this post as useful

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