Trains are the Japanese’s second bedroom


graph of time spent in trainsInfoPLANT conducted a self-selecting survey in the middle of October through the iMode menuing system, to which 9,290 people replied, with just a third of them male, to find out what people do in the train.

I have a two hour commute myself, with about 40 minutes each way actually spent in the train. My usual activities are mobile phone mailing and reading a book, with my current reading material being a kanji study text book. I don’t usually sleep during my normal commute, although at the weekends I often feel my eyelids rather heavy. I’m not surprised at the high use of mobile phone games, but most of the men, especially, seem to play just mah jongg or pachinko games.

Q1: Do you usually use trains? (Sample size=9,290)


Q1SQ: About how much time do you spend in trains each day? (Sample size=5,625)

Less than 15 minutes25.6%21.3%27.8%
15 to 30 minutes24.1%19.6%26.4%
30 to 60 minutes25.6%27.0%24.8%
60 to 90 minutes12.1%15.1%10.6%
90 minutes to 2 hours7.5%10.2%6.1%
Over 2 hours5.1%6.7%4.3%

No real significant patterns by age group appeared, but it can be seen that women spend less time on trains than men, presumably due to a lot of housewives doing short journeys versus their husbands commuting to work.

Q2: Which of the following do you usually do when riding the train? (Sample size=5,625, multiple answer)

Do mobile phone mail64.1%51.9%70.3%
Read in-train advertisements62.2%58.4%64.2%
Chat with fellow riders61.3%49.5%67.2%
View iMode sites58.6%59.5%58.1%
Play mobile phone games45.1%47.0%44.2%
Chew gum, suck sweets44.9%32.8%50.9%
Read book39.5%35.5%41.6%
Listen to music36.9%32.3%39.2%
Read comic or magazine22.8%28.7%19.9%
Check schedule (personal, not train timetable)12.3%8.8%14.0%
Read newspaper7.0%16.4%2.2%
Play other game (eg DS, PSP)3.8%4.5%3.5%
Listen to radio1.9%3.7%1.0%
Use PC0.5%1.1%0.2%

Looking at age breakdown information, young people are more likely to listen to music, whereas old women prefer books. Young men seem most immune to the lure of the in-carriage adverts, and reading the newspaper is an old man’s activity.

Looking at the breakdown by journey length, as might not be surprising, the longer the time riding, the more people choose to read or listen. However, looking at the advertisements seems little affected by journey length – 51% for the the shortest journey versus 67% for the longest.

Chatting on the train drops down as length of journey increases, so does this mean longer journeys are more likely to be done alone? Once journey length exceed 30 minutes, three-quarters often sleep, rising to almost nine in ten for trips over two hours.

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  1. June 11, 2013 @ 00:49

    […] My biggest surprise was from Q2SQ2, in that just 15% said they watched while commuting, and even less at other times on the move. I have heard that it is seen as a little embarrassing to be watching TV on the train for some people, but I’d like to see a more detailed survey on that. Indeed, it has been quite a while since I’ve translated a survey on in-train activities. […]