Close Your Legs: Tokyo Subway Etiquette Posters

Ever since public transportation became a part of my daily commute in high school, I have ranted and raged against the self-perceived God-given right that an overwhelming number of men seem to think they have: the right to take up as much space as humanly possible, all the time, especially in space-endangered settings—like rush hour buses and subway cars.

Meanwhile, women—largely—attempt to compact themselves into tinier and tinier packages, huddled and squashed, somehow convinced that being forced to take up less than one seat space is totally fine.

It’s not fine.

I hate seat hogs. Hate.

So I glare at them and make snide comments, while I curl up into the most compact sliver of myself that I can, shoulders hunched in, knees pressed together, and leaning slightly forward so that the people next to me can use up some of my “extra” back space.


Just because I feel like a jerk if I am taking up more than my allotted space on a cramped public transport vehicle is no reason for you to basically sit on me. I mean, really.


My favorite thing ever is when some dude manages to take up a full three seats via gratuitous sprawling. If he has bags, maybe he can take up four seats. I am not talking about overweight passengers; I am talking about guys who can fit perfectly well into the transit authority’s pre-determined seat space.


I have lots of subway etiquette rants in me. This one might be the topper, if only because it is so prevalent, combined with the fact that I remember the first time I flung out a diatribe on the subject on a CTA bus in high school.

Really. I do.

I get angry when people cannot function in public spaces. Sue me.


So I really love these subway etiquette posters from Tokyo, dating from 1976 to 1982. The Hitler-Charlie Chaplin one is kind of terrifying, but it makes a strong case for not being a seat hog.

Special shout-out to the Toulouse-Lautrec dance hall parody poster. I have a canvas tote bag silk-screened with the original lithograph.

You know, because I am an art/design history francophile geek.


1 Comment

Filed under Really.

One response to “Close Your Legs: Tokyo Subway Etiquette Posters

  1. Denise

    Seat hogs rank just minimally below pole leaners for me. I can’t stand pole leaners, especially during rush hour. I’ve taken to just jamming my hand in there anyway, and positioning it so that my knuckles are in the person’s spine.

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