The Tokyo Metro has been teaching travellers about good public behaviour for some years now. The newest campaign sees example-givers in cartoon form; apparently a harsh lesson for the Japanese, who are used to teddy bears and puppets telling them how to behave. Since April metro-goers have had a new lesson to learn each month. So far, these include: don't get your packed lunch out, put on your make-up, or play golf with an umbrella... Seems trivial, but being told to "do it at home" has caused a real polemic on the Japanese web.
One of the posters. The messages are in both Japanese and English. More below.
"These posters are targeting very minor things while ignoring the major ones"
Jean-Marc is an American who's been living in Japan for 14 years. He works in advertising.In previous years they've used photos of posed teddy bears, children's drawings, and even Jim Henson's Muppets. This series has the most 'adult' style of any of the posters so far. The previous series never actually looked like they bothered anyone. Personally, I find the new ones rather amusing. I've actually found myself looking forward to the first of the month to see what the new poster will be.
One thing that bothers me, however, is that these posters are targeting very minor things while ignoring the major ones. For a long time, for example, there've been men who try to grope women during the rush hour crowd, when the trains are too packed to even see who's touching you, let alone get away or stop them. Only recently have authorities started taking this seriously, with the police cracking down and making arrests, and the train companies responding by offering women-only cars during rush hour. Some lines have put up posters letting passengers know that this won't be tolerated, but to the best of my knowledge, Tokyo Metro is just focusing on petty annoyances."
"People feel that it's no longer safe to talk to strangers"
Fumiko Ichikawa is a consultant from Tokyo who deals with human behaviour.
The fact that public transport is initiating such a campaign definitely has something to do with the fragility of modern society we tend to hear about. In past years, the media reported that old people were getting beaten up by youths for making remarks about their social behavior. People feel that it's no longer safe to talk to strangers.
The humorous aspect is probably the most important, because commuters here are fed up with all those announcements and campaigns on how we should behave on public transport. I don't find putting on makeup impolite, as a woman I'm surprised and impressed at the same time that some people have the guts to do it. Some people say it's actually the scent of the cosmetics that disturb people; some say it's the 'under construction' face you're exposing to the general public."
Some of the lessons learnt so far...