Train Etiquette Posters From 1970s Japan are Just as Relevant Today

By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on at

Don't smoke in the train station. Don't spit your gum on the floor. And please, god, don't splay your legs out like no one else is around you. These sound like basic rules of today's public transit, but they're actually messages that graced the walls of Tokyo's subway forty years ago.

Hideya Kawakita is a 67-year-old graphic designer who create the map for Tokyo's subway system. But he also had an impact on another aspect of the subway: Its Etiquette. For 30 years, Kawakita created posters that instructed riders what to do and what not to do—often using pop culture parodies and humour. The posters became classics, and they were the subject of a show at Tokyo's University Arts Museum this fall.

We're all in the midst of a major travel week right now, and though these PSAs were created decades ago for the subway, not for the contemporary airport, they still speak truth. Check them out below. [Spoon & Tamago; Images courtesy of Japan Belier Art Center Inc]

1976: Superman reminds you not to throw your gum on the platform.

Subway Etiquette Posters From 1970s Japan Are Just as Relevant Today

1976: Marilyn Monroe reminds you to remember your umbrella.

Subway Etiquette Posters From 1970s Japan Are Just as Relevant Today

1977: Mary reminds you to give up your seat for mothers and kids.

Subway Etiquette Posters From 1970s Japan Are Just as Relevant Today

1979: A Montmartre-style Art Nouveau poster reminds you not to smoke on the platform.

Subway Etiquette Posters From 1970s Japan Are Just as Relevant Today

1982: John Wayne reminds you not to smoke in the station.

Subway Etiquette Posters From 1970s Japan Are Just as Relevant Today