“Do not rush onto the train!” A PSA-style poster that appeared on Japanese subway cars in April of 1979.
I love writing about Japanese pop culture, everything from obscure garage rock to game shows to that weirdo Japanese erotica stuff. While I’m not claiming to be some Japanese culture/sub-culture idiot savant, I am rather dedicated to continuing my exploration of a place I’ve sadly never visited. Yet. Today I’ve got something I know our readers are going to dig via of my favorite Internet spots Pink Tentacle—a collection of perplexing PSA posters that were displayed on subway cars during the mid-70s and early 80s. The word puzzling and Japanese pop culture often walk hand in hand, and these public service announcements are quirky, to say the least, when it comes to reminding train patrons to behave appropriately. And yeah, “manspreading” on the train was apparently quite the problem back in the day. How rude! Even aliens did it. Who knew?
Getting back to the posters, as you look through the images you’ll see that many of them use stuff borrowed from American pop culture—you know, like Jesus and Superman—to help convey their messages. There are also a few that are preoccupied with reminding folks riding the train to not leave their umbrellas behind or the perils of leaving your chewing gum on the subway platform for someone, like Superman (don’t laugh, it could happen) to step in it. Oh, the HORROR.
“Space Invader” March 1979.
“Three Annoying Train Monsters” October 1982.
“Don’t Forget your Umbrella” October 1981. I guess we finally now know what Jesus would actually do.
“Mary is Tired.” This poster is aimed at raising awareness of giving up your seat for a woman with a small child.
Charlie Chaplin as Adolf Hitler in a poster from July of 1976 called “The Seat Monopolizer.” Because of course Hitler was a manspreader.
“Don’t throw chewing gum on the platform!” September 1976.
“Humans are forgetful” featuring “Astro Boy” bringing back an umbrella and hat to his creator, manga legend and cartoonist Osamu Tezuka from February, 1976.
“Isami-ashi: Wait behind the white line” May 1979.
“You’ve had too much to drink” October 1976. Now this is a great example of the sly humor these posters embody. According to the loose translation provided on Pink Tentacle it reads: “I look like Santa because you’ve had too much to drink. It’s only October. If you drink, be considerate of the other passengers.” HA!
Marcel Marceau in a poster from October 1978. The poster is helping direct passengers to available priority seating on the train such as the elderly, handicapped or women with small children.
“Umbrellas left behind in the subway” featuring Marilyn Monroe, June 1976.
“Shimatta.” A poster from March of 1977 that warned subway riders of the danger of getting their handbags stuck in the train doors after they shut.
HT: Pink Tentacle
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The king of Kinbaku: The erotic works of Japanese bondage artist Seiu Ito
‘Jigoku’: The brilliantly grim Japanese horror film about Hell
‘Tokyo Compression’: These images of Japanese commuters are not for the claustrophobic
Classic Japanese punk band ‘The Star Club’ covering Sham 69,The Clash, & the Ramones
FEEL THE FUZZ: Insane music from obscure vintage Japanese psych & garage rock bands