However, when these sophisticated electronic devices are used on a train, they are not employed for talking, but for communicating through e-mail or text messages, or for browsing the Internet or playing games.
Japanese etiquette frowns upon the use of mobile phones in buses or trains, and it is rare to see someone speaking on a phone while using public transport, despite the excellent coverage in urban areas.
There remain some dead spots, though, where mobile phones cannot be used and the Internet remains inaccessible – chiefly while riding the subway lines between stations.
Change is coming soon to this area in major cities where such subway networks are in use, including Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. Starting this year, passengers will be able to use the Internet through their mobile phones, even while traveling tens of meters underground, and may send and receive messages.
It is not likely, though, that the ban on talking on mobile phones is to be rescinded. Those who wish to use the subway as a chance to catch up on their sleep may slumber on undisturbed.