multi.trudi :: tokyo 2003 city guide and research of cultural phenomena
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Subway Posters Tokyo 2003

your friendly subway clerk

Your friendly subway conductor will answer all your questions.
By the way, who designed these ugly green suits?

"Watch your step. The doors will open on the right side. Be careful. Don't forget anything. Have a nice day..."
Even in an overall safe environment like Tokyo subway, which is characterized by offensive politeness, there's still room for all kinds of anxiety.

Mishandling of umbrellas or newspapers, extensive use of mobiles, stepping on each others' feet, or even groping womens' breasts (chikan) in a crowded subway is far too concrete, for "any behavior that might inconvenience another person is not allowed." Better do not behave at all.

But if in doubt check with the manners' posters, which decorate the subway walls. They're incredible popular, so there's even a manners' posters competion. [pict]

It doesn't matter what you fear, in case you fear at all.

Underground Samples

Subway Poster Beware of Chikan 0 Subway Poster Bad Manners in the Subway

Black male approaching red haired woman. This one adresses groping (womens' breasts). Chikan is a crime, says it.

Misbehaviour is always possible. Do not sit on the ground. Do not drink and shout. Be careful with your backpacks....

Subway Poster Check mobile for criminals Subway Poster Wanted Suspects

Cool technology. Check with your mobile in case you spot some potential suspects.

A conventional "wanted" poster, found in nearly all subways. They remind me that there is still more but misconduct in Japanese society.

Subway Poster We love tokyo Subway Poster 25m to Tokyo

No contradiction possible. Yes, we love Tokyo, period.

What a relief after 5967 miles! It's only 25m to Tokyo! Seen in Keisei Ueno station.

More info on Manner Posters

0 See also Police Most Wanted

0 The Wanted Artist Group Site making fun out of "wanted" posters.

0 Manners Posters Competition

Other voices:

I was reminded of the clashing cultures whenever I entered one of Tokyo's subway stations, where the authorities have been displaying a series of "manner posters" to correct the near-flawless behaviour of the Japanese commuter. The latest manner poster, Number Eight, seeks to perfect the umbrella-carrying style of the passengers in Tokyo's spotlessly gleaming subway system.
With a helpful illustration, the poster urges commuters to point their folded umbrellas downward, not outward, when walking up the stairs in a subway station. "If you hold it the wrong way, it can be dangerous," the posters admonish.
Even the subway stairs are marked with arrows to tell you where to step. And on the street corners outside, I watched Japanese pedestrians waiting obediently at red lights, never sneaking an illicit step over the curb, even when the streets were completely empty of any traffic.
This is a consensus-ruled society, where individual rights are subordinated to the principle of wa (harmony). And so a culture shock was inevitable when Japan braced for an invasion by an anticipated 400,000 foreign soccer fans for the World Cup. Drunken singing and loud chanting could be perceived as something close to hooliganism in a country that has never seen a hooligan before.

Politesse is everything in Japan. This poster was in Tokyo's subway system, reminding us not to run for the train or shake out our wet umbrellas. Everyone is so happy to be breaking the rules. The artist clearly had to concede that jumping up and down on the spot is fun stuff.

The manner poster
There seems to be signs everywhere telling you this is not allow or that is strictly prohibited. At my subway stations one sign reads, "any behavior that might inconvenience another person is not allowed." Might inconvenience someone? That kind of covers a lot.
About a year ago the subway authority began a new campaign: the Manner Poster, kicking off with the one below. New posters followed every month or so highlighting bad behaviors to avoid such as don’t put make on while on the subway.

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At Thing Gallery Tokyo 2003 + Studio Adorno

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