Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Tokyo Subway Manners Poster

I once asked students how long it took them to get ready in a morning. The girls took one hour on average to blow dry their hair and `make up`. If they were running late, they would finish on the train. It is very entertaining to watch Japanese women whipping out heated tongs and applying them to their hair on a crowded subway. And I once watched a schoolgirl use electric eyelash curlers on a fast moving bus.

At least they`re making an effort. Some of the ojisan (older blokes) on the subway can clear a carriage in seconds. First there`s the enthusiastic nose-picking ... and flicking. Then there`s the coughing and sneezing without even putting their hands over their mouths. And a couple of weeks ago, the ojisan next to me had such appalling bad breath I had to hold my scarf over my mouth and leave the carriage at the next stop, followed by several other nauseous women.

Granted, I also feel somewhat sorry for the ojisan. These guys have spent their lives in soulless smoky offices, working from early morning to early evening and then having to go out with colleagues, drinking and visiting hostess bars. They eat junk food, get drunk and throw up on the last train home. Their putrid breath is a sign of dangerously poor health.

Younger guys are shunning this lifestyle. A salaryman friend of mine, sick of having to go out drinking alcohol most evenings with his ojisan colleagues, being denied orange juice and having to inhale their secondhand smoke, simply quit.

So I don`t have a problem with women or men (some men shave their whole faces and then pencil in Beckham style brows) making up in public. In fact I sometimes do it myself. It`s important to look presentable in this country.


  1. Just came across your blog and love your postings! Will follow!