“Manner Posters” and the Management of Passenger Etiquette on Japanese Urban Railways

25.11.2021 18:30 - 20:00

A virtual u:japan lecture by Christoph Schimkowsky (University of Sheffield)

| Abstract |

Illustrated posters appealing to passenger conduct – so-called “manner posters” (manā posutā) – are ubiquitous in Japanese public transport spaces. Usually issued by public transport providers, Japanese manner posters target a broad range of potentially problematic passenger behaviours such as the “correct” way to transport luggage or hold a smartphone on a crowded train. Notably, manner posters usually avoid straightforward prohibitions or modes of address that could be perceived as moralizing by passengers. Instead, they attempt to encourage desirable commuter conduct in a polite, friendly, or humorous manner. To do so, manner posters employ highly creative designs featuring cultural references, cute characters or elaborate drawings. This has repeatedly brought them to public attention in Japan and abroad, as seen in Tokyo Metro’s well-known “Please do it at home” poster series or Seibu Railway’s series of woodblock print (ukiyo-e)-themed posters.

This lecture provides an introduction to manner posters as a friendly yet pervasive media presence in Japanese urban transport environments. It offers a glimpse behind the curtain of manner poster production by exploring the corporate and creative considerations driving poster design and deployment.  Drawing on expert interviews with transport, advertising and design professionals, alongside analysis of archival materials, the talk provides an overview of the content, production pathways, history, and design motivations of manner posters. While there is a tendency in popular and academic discourse to understand manner posters as a strategy of social control, this lecture contends that corporate manner improvement poster initiatives are not primarily concerned with disciplining passengers but satisfying customer sensibilities. It examines company and designer perspectives on  posters’ content, design, and limitations to argue that manner poster production is not driven by normative conceptions of “good” and “bad” passenger behaviour, but is primarily shaped by concerns about customer sensibilities and satisfaction.

| Bio |

Christoph Schimkowsky is a PhD researcher in the Department of Sociological Studies and the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield studying passenger manner improvement initiatives by Japanese railway providers. He holds MA degrees in Anthropological Research Methods (SOAS, University of London) and International Relations (Waseda University), as well as a BA degree in Political Science & Social and Cultural Anthropology (University of Göttingen) and was a visiting research fellow at Keio University and Waseda University when conducting fieldwork for his doctoral thesis. Christoph’s work has appeared in Japanese Studies, Contemporary Japan, and Mobilities, among others. His research interests include urban mobilities, visual communication, and the management of everyday conduct and public life in contemporary cities.

| Date & Time |

u:japan lecture | #7
Thursday 2021-11-25, 18:30~20:00
max. 300 participants (online)

| Plattform & Link |

| Further Questions? |

Please contact ujapanlectures.ostasien@univie.ac.at or visit https://japanologie.univie.ac.at/ujapanlectures/s03/#e07.