Riding the Elevator Together

Holding the Door Open for Strangers Too

When you are the first in the elevator, you hold the ‘open’ button, and wait for everyone to get in. Asking everyone, “For what floor?” you push the button for everyone else’s floor. The daily occurrences of helping out others may seem obvious, but from abroad it is felt that this is well-mannered behavior deserves praise. In recent years, in order for those in wheelchairs to use elevators, the buttons have been put lower down, and elevators are often equipted with handrails or seats for those who may need it. They have in general become easier to use. However, there is still a proper way to ride an elevator, and to not do so can lead to an accident. To use elevators and maximize comfort, how are the professionals attentive to riders’ needs?

Holding the Door Open for Strangers Too
When people get on, holding the door open.

Guiding by Putting Safety as the Top Priority.

In 2009, Nihonbashi’s Takashimaya was designated as an important cultural property for Japan for having elevators that are still in operation since their inception in 1933. They are still operating with elevator attendants. “Nowadays, these manual elevator handles are rare. During the World War 2, there was an order to recover all metals, and therefore some of the handles we offered, but after the war we returned to how it was before, and used the design from when we first started, and are continuing with it now.” said the Nihonbashi Takashimaya concierge, Masanori Shikita. As such handles are rare even in the West, guests from overseas look at the elevators with feelings of nostalgia. According to the one customer staff member, “For us, what we think about most is the customers’ safety.” From guarding against clothes getting caught in the door, to putting mirrors in the elevator to see passengers from every angle, safe use of the elevators is constantly being thought about.

Guiding by Putting Safety as the Top Priority.
From a corner that cannot be seen, confirming guests coming on.

Helping Out Those You Don’t Know is Connected to Safety

There are roughly 150,000 elevators in Tokyo. (As of 2014, Japan Elevator Association). When riding an elevator with others, what should we look out for in order to ensure that everyone is safe and feeling good? In a business situation, to protect against information breeches, mobilße phone use in elevators is refrained from, and conversation is kept to a minimum. When you are with one guest, hold the door open for him to get in first. When you are with a group of guests, get in first and hold the ‘open’ button and wait for everyone to get in. When waiting for an elevator, wait at the side of the doors so that people can get off the elevator. Customer staff at Nihonbashi Takashimaya says, “To ensure that everyone in the elevator is comfortable, I communicate by speaking and with eye contact. Safety and comfort come from modest communication with riders. To pay attention for those you don’t know is good manners that are connected with safety.

Helping Out Those You Don’t Know is Connected to Safety
Ensuring that clothing does not get stuck in the elevator doors. A hint to elevator manners is tied into this.


When did this start? Japan’s first elevator was made in 1842, in the Kobuntei rest area building in the Japanese garden Kairaku-en, created by Mito Domain Feudal Lord, Nariaki Tokugawa.
Where can we learn about this? To learn about elevator manner customer service, go to Nihonbashi Takashimaya.
Best suited time of the year or the day? The opening hours are 10:30 to 20:00. Near the new year the hours can be different (and it is closed on New Year’s Day).
Data Number of elevators in Tokyo: 155,735. (As of 2014, Japan Elevator Association).
Please Note In the event of an earthquake, there are elevators that automatically go to the nearest floor and stop, but there are also elevators that do not do so, and on those all floor buttons should be pressed to escape to the nearest floor.

In cooperation with: Nihonbashi Takashimaya
Reference: Japan Elevator Association