Japanese railway etiquette posters encourage polite behavior

4:00 PM on 03.30.2009 // Chelsea Thompson

You'd think that people in Japan would know better than to bring their porn and potato chips onto the subway. But according to a recent campaign sweeping through the Japanese railway system, some people need a little reminder. New posters are being put up around trains by the Tokyo Metro underground railways informing customers of proper train-riding manners. While the posters tend to change every year, this time they are being made by the famous Japanese illustrator Bunpei Yorifuji (whose illustrations you might recognize from the cover art of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service).

“We get calls from customers complaining about various kinds of behavior by fellow passengers,” said Tatsuya Tedabuko, a company representative for Tokyo Metro. “That’s why we put up these signs: so that our passengers can travel pleasantly by rail.”

It seems rather redundant though, as from accounts of others the Japanese are already very polite on trains. Most people are embarrassed to be caught chatting on a cell phone, let alone sprawling across a few seats and chowing down on some snacks. But according to railway operating company Tokyu Dentetsu, the addition of the poster campaigns over the past couple years have reduced customer complaints.

I really love the art style of the posters, but I have the feeling that trying to smuggle one out wouldn't be considered proper train etiquette.

Chelsea Thompson,
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