Taking sides


Hmm, these two must be Kyotoites . . .

I noticed something strange during my visit to Japan.

In Tokyo’s train stations, people almost universally line up on the left side when taking the escalator, leaving the right side clear for commuters in a hurry.

In Kyoto, it’s almost like there’s no fixed rule; people either clog up the whole escalator or line up on whichever side the first person to stop chooses. (Ahh, just like home.) But by and large, they tend to gravitate towards the right.

Now here’s the 6.4-billion-yen question: Why?

In Kyoto Station (whilst riding an escalator, naturally), I overheard a fellow gaijin discussing this very issue with his companion. He chalked it up to that age-old rivalry between the old capital and the new capital.

Sounds a little far-fetched, so I’m just not satisfied with that explanation. I’ll dig around a bit until I find a more detailed rationale for this strange urban phenomenon.