We recently regaled you with Truly Terrifying Japanese Train Stories told to us by foreigners, which included everything from runaway trains to perverts and nuns. Today, we’re going to relate to you foreigners’ stories of unbelievable acts of kindness they’ve experienced on Japan’s trains.

You’ve probably already heard a few stories of Japanese people doing good deeds, like lost property being returned or someone helping out the hapless foreigner who doesn’t speak the language. But Japan’s special brand of kindness goes much deeper than this. You know, things that when you see them they make you think, “Wow, that would never happen in my country!”

Join us for some miso soup for the soul: stories of extreme kindness on Japanese trains, after the jump.

These stories are especially relevant now that Japan will be hosting the 2020 summer Olympics. One of the ways Japan boosted their bid to win the Games was by promoting the theme of omotenashi-Japanese hospitality–which sometimes manifests itself in the form of extreme kindness and hospitality.

Let’s start with random acts of kindness…

suitcasesFlickr (Gideon)

“Upon my arrival in Tokyo when I moved to Japan, I didn’t know about the airport bag delivery service. I took it upon myself to go from Narita Airport to my hotel in Asakusa via the Narita Express and the Tokyo Metro. I had so many bags that I had to make three trips up and down the escalators. A kind Japanese man offered to help me out with my luggage from Asakusa Station all the way to my hotel. We still keep in touch to this day, and I even spent a New Year’s Eve with his family in Tokyo once!”

And random acts of sympathy…

“My friend threw up on the train one night after drinking too much. Within 15 seconds the Japanese people around us had taken out tissues and cleaned up the train floor and then handed more tissues to my friend to clean herself up. After 30 seconds, it was like it never happened at all.”

“I broke my ankle when I passed out on a JR train on my way to work one morning (a combination of no breakfast, not enough sleep and low blood sugar). I came to as four Japanese guys were carrying me off and putting me gently down on the station platform at Shin-Osaka. A most amazingly kind station staff member escorted me in the ambulance to the hospital and sat with me for four hours.”

commutersFlickr (Mikael Leppa)

I was on my way back from work during rush hour. All the overhead straps were either taken or I couldn’t reach them, so I just stood there teetering in my high heels next to a four-seater, the kind with two bench seats facing each other. The local trains can jostle one around quite a bit, and during one such jolt, I found myself launched, face first, into the crotches of the people sitting on the bench seats. However, you’ll be glad to know there is a way to avoid this should you ever be in this situation yourself:

“Once I was taking the last Hankyu train from Umeda (Osaka) back to Kyoto and it was so crowded that there was nothing to hold on to. A total stranger (she later said her name was Kaori) held my hand for 20 minutes until she reached her stop at Takatsuki. Talk about a random act of kindness!”

The 36 train views of Mount Fuji…

fujiWikimedia (Swollib)

“I was nodding off in the Shinkansen once and a Japanese woman across the aisle suddenly tapped me on my shoulder. She said, ‘Sorry, I know you were trying to sleep, but the view of Fuji-san is so clear today. It’s very rare, so I wanted you to see it.'”

On the other hand, it may not seem so kind when a foreigner does it, unless done exactly right…

“I was on the Keiyo Line one fine day and was astounded at how clear the view of Mount Fuji was: perfect with a snow-covered top, blue sky, and it looked so close! I was overwhelmed, absolutely bubbling over and I had to share my feelings of excitement with someone, anyone, even to the point of embarrassment. So, finally one fella opened his eyes and, using my limited Japanese I said ‘Fuji san, Fuji san!’ but he shook his head and went back to sleep. I was shocked and saddened. Then it hit me: the man must have thought I was mistakenly calling him Mr. Fuji.”

What kind of tea is served in the Green Car? Green tea, of course…

teaFlickr (JD)

“My mum and I met up in Japan, each with a different Japan Rail Pass — hers for the very expensive first class Green Cars, mine not. We booked our seats accordingly, but I would try to sit with her in the Green Car if possible. All the conductors ignored my unsuitable rail pass, although one or two told me quietly that, if the Green Car filled up, I would have to move to one the regular cars. On the Tsubame in Kyushu, the Green Car did fill up, and the conductor discreetly came and asked me to follow her to the conductor’s room. There, she plied me with green tea and we chatted until we reached our destination!”

At the northernmost point in Japan, people are even nicer…

monumentFlickr (Bryan…)

Japan Railway service is pretty darn good, but so is their bus service. This is what happened to two train tour leaders when they combined the two.

“We were escorting a group of train aficionados around Japan. The group was staying at Asahikawa in Hokkaido and traveled on the Super Soya to Wakkanai with the intention of visiting Cape Soya. At Wakkanai Station we attempted to buy 26 JR bus tickets to the cape but the man behind the counter immediately made a telephone call and after a little while put the phone down and sold us a group ticket. He then told us where to wait and gave us a departure time which was a little earlier than that shown in the JR bus timetable. All our group were ready and waiting at the appointed time along with quite a few local passengers. The man who had sold us the ticket then arrived just as the bus pulled up in front of us. This was a coach – not the expected town bus. The man ushered us aboard and told the locals to wait as this was not their bus. He had secured us our own private coach heading for Cape Soya! The driver made what otherwise would have been on the local unscheduled stops along the way, and took us to the top of a hill from which we could admire the cape and Sakhalin Island in the distance. After a brief pause he drove down to the normal bus stop and let us off there. We then established the time for the return trip, which was five minutes before the regular bus would leave. As this was virtually a non-stop run we then had time to explore Wakkanai before boarding the Super Soya back to Asahikawa.”

When you gotta go, you gotta go…

signFlickr (Mike Mozart)

“I was on the last train of the night, headed to Kofu on the Minobu-sen. The restroom was locked and I really needed to go. I flagged down the conductor and explained that I have kidney problems, could he unlock the restroom. He said to wait. Great… A few more stops and he comes by a few times, asking if I can can bear it just a bit longer. The train arrived at a tiny rural station, where a train on the opposite tracks was also pulling in. The conductor locked the door of the control room, left the train and ran across the platform to talk to the other train’s conductor. The conductor of my train then came back and told me ‘Come with me, you can leave your luggage.’ He escorted me off the train, out of this tiny country train station, to the public toilets outside. He waited dutifully for me, then escorted me back to the train full of befuddled passengers.”

We hate to say it, but now we’ve gotta go too. But please share your omotenashi stories with us in the comments section below!

Featured image: Flickr (Mikael Leppa)