Visiting Japan this autumn? If you’re off to see the falling leaves in Kyoto, you’ll want to keep your selfie stick in your bag when taking the train. As of last weekend, West Japan Railway Company (JR West) has banned the use of selfie sticks at 1,195 of its 1,222 stations. Hooray!
It’s only September, but Japan has already set an annual record for foreign tourists visiting the country – more than 13 million as of September 10. With China leading the pack, you can rest assured that many of them are wielding selfie sticks.
The recent influx of selfie-stick toting foreigners, coupled with the annoying contraption’s increased popularity among Japanese youths, likely spurred the decision. In recent months, a number of zoos and popular tourist destinations in Japan have placed similar prohibitions.
More than just a nuisance for everyone who isn’t pouting at their smartphone, JR West cited safety concerns as the reason for placing the ban. Many older stations have overhead wires that could be damaged – or even give off a shock – if struck with a metal selfie stick. There’s also the potential for a selfie-taker to stumble onto the tracks while trying to achieve the perfect angle and lighting that makes them look 10 pounds thinner.
It’s unclear what kind of punishment selfie-taking offenders will face for snapping away on a crowded train platform in western Japan, but it will probably amount to nothing more than a stern request to put it away – which those who don’t understand Japanese will probably ignore anyway.
JR West operates the majority of train lines in the western half of the country, covering the major cities of Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Fukuoka. Non-JR lines, including most city subway systems, have yet to place selfie stick bans. East Japan Railways (JR East), which serves more than 1,700 stations between Tokyo and Hokkaido, is also unaffected – but could adopt similar rules ahead of the 2020 Olympics. Fingers crossed!
This post appeared first on Tech in Asia.