Good manners a prerequisite for pursuing the hobby of photography

There is no end to incidents in which people get in trouble in connection with taking pictures of trains and other subjects. The basic premise of enjoying a hobby is to follow the rules and related etiquette, and not cause trouble for others. It is important to be considerate of one’s surroundings.

In late April, an assault resulting in injury occurred at JR Nishi-Kawaguchi Station in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, as photo-taking railfans called “toritetsu” gathered to take pictures of a special train passing by.

A man who was struggling with others to secure a spot to take pictures threw down a junior high school boy who was pointing his smartphone camera toward the man, seriously injuring the boy. Did the man lose his mind because he was so preoccupied with taking good photos? Violence is inexcusable.

The term toritetsu refers to railway fans who love to take pictures of trains and the surrounding scenery. Their numbers are said to have been increasing in recent years due to the spread of high-performance cameras and lenses, and the fact that it has become easier to disseminate information through social media.

Most of them observe good etiquette, but the bad behavior of some has been viewed as a problem.

At some commemorative events such as the final run of a retiring train, or the last train on a line that will be shut down, fans often rush in, shouting angrily and causing chaos. There have also been incidents in which people made a nuisance of themselves by entering the tracks or private property without permission in order to take pictures.

Railroads are a form of public transportation. Inconsiderate behavior can interfere with the operation of the trains and could cause people to fall off the platforms or be struck by trains. If such incidents continue, railroad companies could be forced to take stricter measures.

Tokyo Metro Co. has refrained from announcing train retirements in advance since the 2018 last run of a retiring train caused trouble when fans flooded stations and the train. The Tokyo subway operator restricts photography in its stations.

Railfans should strongly be aware that aggressive behavior is tantamount to shooting themselves in the foot. The Japan Railfan Club, an association of railroad enthusiasts, has been calling on its members to serve as role models for toritetsu, to establish “order in the hobby of loving railroads.”

With regards to the hobby of photography, there have been problems with people violating etiquette, such as feeding wild birds in order to photograph them up close.

The Wild Bird Society of Japan put together a booklet in cooperation with a camera company containing seven guidelines such as “do not approach nests,” “do not disclose information about rare or popular birds” and “do not use flash,” and is promoting this etiquette.

The same care is required when photographing festivals and sports. Hobbies are originally meant to enrich people’s lives. The spirit of showing consideration for others should never be forgotten.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on June 6, 2021.