One perplexing question soon starts to torment
every Westerner arriving in Tokyo:
Why do they all keep mashing those damned door close buttons?
Breaking my oath of silence, I shall now reveal the
secret protocol needed to master The Way of the Elevator
(jp. uee-obu-za-erebeetaa) and become one of the
secret society, a certified henna gaijin.
The key ideas are respect and efficiency. As you ride the
elevator, your duties are to:
- Make the elevator move as quickly as possible...
- ...but not just for yourself, for everyone!
These principles can be codified into a set of rules.
Selecting the Operator
The Duties of the Operator
- Each elevator must have an operator.
- The person of lowest rank always assumes the role of the
- Warning: Entering a full elevator automatically lowers your rank.
- If the operator leaves (or is pushed away from the panel as the
elevator fills up), the next in rank becomes the operator.
The Duties of the Passengers
- If somebody is coming in, the operator must press the door open
button until they are inside.
- Note: Standing outside and holding the door with your hand is
- Once everybody is inside, the operator must immediately press
the door close button.
- When the elevator stops, the operator must hold the door open
button until all persons leaving have done so.
- The operator must always leave last.
- Note: If there are others still inside, the operator must press
the door close button himself and slip out before the doors shut.
- Depending on rank, all persons coming in must thank the
operator for holding the button. Equals or inferiors say
sumimasen, your boss probably won't even nod.
- If you rush in while the door is closing and/or press the
up/down button yourself to reopen the door, you must apologize profusely.
- Tip: An operator with good elevator-fu will notice the
latecomer and hold the door, but pretend not to notice, saving them the
hassle of having to apologize.
That's it. But remember, only practice makes perfect, and your
fellow passengers are years ahead of you. Gambatte!