I've wanted to do a "Living in Japan" series for a while now, so I'm going to just start it now. I'll be honest, having two small kids has definitely changed how much we get out and I'm definitely not as knowledgeable about the culture and our surroundings as I was when we lived in Peru. So this is Living in Japan from my perspective (and is definitely a bit limited).
I saw this poster at the train station today and it made me laugh out loud (so of course I had to take a picture with my phone). I have no idea what it says, but the top picture is definitely how NOT to sit when on a train and on the bottom is what is expected on trains here and the animals look so happy and can even let someone else sit with them too.
I remember hearing about the "train rules" before we lived here and thought that there was no way I would be comfortable on them, especially riding with children. But, everybody understands when there's kids around and really they are nice rules when you have to be so close to your neighbors on the train.
This is an example of what we gave our 5th graders before a trip last year:
I remember hearing about proper train etiquette such as not wearing perfume and definitely not eating on the train (but I can't find any proof of this). Which I agree with both - I don't want to sit next to someone doused in perfume or someone eating something - like McDonald's on a hot day. Bags should be placed in your laps or at your feet, not next to you. I wish I could find a complete list, but didn't have any luck with a couple of "googles".
Some (even packed) trains are eerily quiet, but as teachers and parents, it's refreshing most of the time. The only time we have to be careful about being the rude foreigners, is coming home after a couple beers or glasses of wine; sometimes we're not so quiet, not hanging from the hand rings kind of wild, but not silently enjoying the ride, either.
That being said, we love the train. I REALLY love the train alone with my iPhone, but that rarely happens. It was a bit intimidating when we first moved here and still can be during rush hour in Osaka or gasp, Tokyo - they actually have guys who push people into the train if needed - I was so squished in one in Yokohama and I got separated from my friend that I wasn't sure where I needed to get off, but I survived.
And, Maximo LOVES the train. He could ride the train all day.