Japanese society is one in which a multitude of customs and social expectations are layered over one another to form a society of manners as intricate as lace. It is no surprise, then, that in Japan, good manners are expected even when riding the subway, which is why the Tokyo Metro rolled out a series of good manners posters to gently school commuters–even those who don’t read Japanese–on how to properly ride the subway.
The 2013 series of posters started last April and will continue until March of this year. Visually, they are all similar, featuring a brightly colored background with a heart-shaped cutout that forms the border of a simple one-panel cartoons that cover a wide range of commuter no-nos.
The series launched last spring during cherry blossom season, hence the pink border as a businessman attempts to squeeze his way through the closing doors of a subway car. In May, the Tokyo Metro released a poster telling people to turn off their cell phones on the train, while in June–which kicks off the rainy season in Japan–commuters are cautioned not to splash umbrellas on other passengers. Other lessons in the series range from not eating on the subway to not blaring your music.
Despite Western perceptions of Japan’s seemingly impenetrable system of social expectation, all of these rules would be considered common sense good manners anywhere. Even so, I love the style of these. Not only are they incredibly cute, with great color choices and an illustration style reminiscent of UPA’s cartoons from the 1950s and 1960s, they are also very cleverly done so that they are just as accessible and informative to Japanese adults as they are to tourists and children.