Ask nicely…

Ask nicely…

When I was small, a phrase often to be heard coming from my Mum’s lips was “Ask nicely, then”.  Sure enough, I soon discovered that a polite request usually leads to a more successful outcome than a more outspoken demand.  Good life lesson learned, I think.

The Japanese have their own way of interpreting this and since we can’t read the words, we rely all the more on the pictures.


Characterisation is key and one of my “collections” this trip, was of hazard notices and warning signs on building sites and places where some kind of instruction was needed.


People we’ve come across in Japan have a gentle way of slightly bending forward with an open arm like this, to convey a “watch your step” warning.  I’ve not been aware of it in other parts of the world but I think it’s a really effective gesture and somehow conveys a welcome and a “be careful” at the same time.


Even the most officious certificate includes friendly cartoon characters.  I love to work out the visual clues which create the cute and friendly – placement of the eyes and body proportions is often key.  I find myself referring to this when I’m judging soft toys in village shows – all too often, the bear’s eyes are too high, too far apart and/or too small and for the sake of a half inch, the personality is lost.


This notice is clearly a straightforward “no” to something or other, but the slight smile gets the message across in a pleasant manner, don’t you think?


In the Edo Museum, a place full of school parties and families, the cute cat character was used to convey information and instruction. 


“Thank you for waiting here”.  We notice plenty of positive reinforcement for good behaviour!


This way please!


On this visit, we all felt that the traditional bow is on the decline and generally speaking, the people we came across were more casual in their welcome.  However, there are still formal situations where a courteous bow was the greeting, an example being on a station sign like this.


Finally, apologies for this terrible photograph of the only one of this sign I saw.  It’s on the train and the two warnings shown made me smile, even though there are no cute characters to be seen.  The left hand side issues a warning about running for the train, because “it’s embarrassing to get caught in the doors”.  My favourite is the right hand side, though.


A charming way of saying “no smoking” don’t you think?



We’re home

We’re home