Thursday, April 30, 2015

Business trip to Tokyo - part 1: Japanese Signs

Given idioma's headquarters are in Tokyo, this happens to be a common business trip target for our managing director in Prague. Despite being used to the different culture after years of living in Japan, visiting Tokyo after a longer period of being exposed to Central European free-thinking can still strike hard. On the other hand, it's interesting to perceive how cultures are literally clashing. Behold, Chapter One from a manual of "How to overwhelm your average tourist in Tokyo": Signs.

Love and signs are all around

Roads, sidewalks, walls, glass walls, doors, windows. The Japanese sense of manners and organisation demonstrates throughout the need to organize and structure as many activities and processes as possible. 
Of course, there's nothing strange with signs painted on roads, at least not when they relate to traffic – such as prohibiting pedestrians from blundering into unwanted places. But how about a sign painted on the road, prohibiting you from smoking on the open street in four languages (Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English)? Let's try to find similar one, say in Vienna or Paris :)


STOP



...and in case you were distracted and missed an announcement, they repeat at very short intervals, even onto benches and walls. Very expressive visuals ensure you understand even if you unable to read Japanese.




Never let you down 

One could consider this cultural difference as a helpful aid that never lets you down if you possess the ability of reading. A true sign paradise (or better said hell) lurks in train or subway stations and the never-ending passageways. They appear one after the other, each one eager to deliver its own specific prohibitive or directive statement, and it can sometimes be hard to keep track of all the well-intended signs.


Don't stop here...

...or run into the train (try that in rush hours)...


...and better don't stick your fingers between the train doors (who would have thought that)...

...keep out, don't rush, don't smoke, don't be impolite...

...don't worry, be happy, and keep your hands safe...


...had enough? Hold on, there's more!

In case you didn't know, you should be extra careful when riding escalators in vinyl shoes.



Now this one actually helps if you're not familiar with local customs. Japanese drive as well as walk "British-style" and you do want to keep to the left on escalators, walkways, in staircases or while walking in crowded corridors as long as you don't want to be frowned  upon. After all, Japan is the land of politeness, and when in Rome do as the Romans do.

...spekaing of politeness, did you ever switch on the "Manner Mode" on your phone when getting on a train or bus? When commuting in Japan, dive into your phone's mode settings and then hold on!


 At this point, you may have contemplated alternative means of transport instead of trains. Well...better think twice :)


Next part: Reign of machines in Japan...

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