Tokyo Metro’s Subway Train Manners Posters

The Japanese are said to be one of the politest people in the world. The culture is suffused with a complex system of courtesy and respect which affects the way you speak and act at almost all levels, and which can baffle many a foreign visitor. The “rules” even include how you behave on public transportation.

Of course, train and subway networks in most countries have posters reminding passengers to act in a way that is courteous to others, though it is particularly prominent in Japan — and also presented in a very inventive way.

Every fiscal year, Tokyo Metro — which runs most of the subway network in the city — issues a series of “manners posters” which are displayed around the stations and platforms to ask its passengers to think of others.

2013

Vibrant is the keyword to describe the current year’s series. Each month is a new color, featuring a scene inspired by that season’s activities and the etiquette perils that go with it.

So for August you have backpackers on trains not giving other passengers enough room and for June, wet umbrellas during the rainy season dripping on the floor.

The heart border is also very striking, though the symbolism is surely supposed to be civility rather than romance.

tokyo metro subway train manners posters japanApril 2013′s poster and the first in the year’s series. It is themed around cherry blossoms, new starts (in April school starts and many people begin new jobs)… and people rushing onto trains when the doors are closing.

tokyo metro subway train manners posters japanMay repeats a classic request: Please turn on your courtesy when near priority seats and turn off your phone. We like how the smartphone itself has become the “o” from “off”.

One major difference between Japan and other countries is that speaking on your phone on a train is perceived as rude (even if you are speaking more quietly than two passengers having a regular conversation). A lot of the signage about courtesy on public transport focuses on this point.

tokyo metro subway train manners posters japanDuring the rainy season, take care your umbrella isn’t splashing other (and younger) passengers.

tokyo metro subway train manners posters japan tokyo metro subway train manners posters japan

tokyo metro subway train manners posters japanThe October poster is partly Halloween-themed but also asks passengers with suitcases to watch where they are rolling!

tokyo metro subway manners train postersThe November poster has an autumnal feel, though the request to lower the volume is relevant whatever the season.

2012

Last year’s posters were a big talking point and spawned several adaptations and spoofs. The yellow, white and blue coloring is striking, as are the at times humorous scenes. However, the real reason for the success of the series surely lies in the use of the recurring mini bear character.

2012′s series was also bilingual.

tokyo metro subway train manners posters japanThe bear is saying “I can’t get off the train when others are standing in front of the door.”

tokyo metro subway train manners posters japan“Why is there trash here? The train is not a garbage can?”

tokyo metro subway train manners posters japan“Why do you ignore those waiting and cut in line?”

tokyo metro subway train manners posters japan“When you cough, please cover your mouth.” Otherwise the bear has to use a book as a shield!

2011

2011′s series featured dogs and cats, and a few other creatures, and the tone here was a bit more mawkish. The main slogan is “Konna hito o mita“, which we could translate as “I saw a person like this“.

tokyo metro subway train manners posters japanThis poster for May is asking passengers not to rush onto trains like an overly excited dog!

tokyo metro subway train manners posters japanThe perennial request: This hamster is asking people to turn off their phones.

tokyo metro subway train manners posters japanDon’t take up more than your fair share of room.

tokyo metro subway train manners posters japanThis happens a lot on Japanese trains — exhausted office workers falling asleep on strangers. However, as amusing as it is sometimes to watch, it isn’t very pleasant when you become a random person’s pillow.

There are only a few months left in the 2013 fiscal year so keep an eye out for the final posters in the series. And then look forward to the 2014 posters!

Tokyo Metro Manners Posters:
http://www.metrocf.or.jp/manners/manner-poster.html