“The Dictator” 1976.July | taking their cue from Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator,” this poster discourages the man-spread.
In the mid-70s in Tokyo a series of eye-catching posters appeared in Tokyo that featured appropriations of iconic western imagery like Hitler, Superman, Marilyn Monroe and Santa Claus. Each poster promoted proper subway etiquette and manners like not smoking on the platform during rush hour, not spitting gum and displaying your train pass clearly. The comical posters, which ran from 1974-1982, were the work of graphic designer Hideya Kawakita, a man who arguably has had the biggest impact on the image of Tokyo’s subway.
Tokyo Metro Line Map (1974)
One of his first major gigs out of college was designing the map for Tokyo’s metro in 1972. The highly recognizable diagram is used even to this day and paved the way for a long relationship between Kawakita and the Tokyo Metro.
“Umbrellas left behind on the subway” 1976.June | Marilyn Monroe reminds riders to not forget their umbrellas.
The University Arts Museum at the Tokyo University of the Arts is honoring their alumni, Hideya Kawakita, in an exhibition the reflects upon the designer’s 30-years of work, first for the Tokyo Metro and later for iichiko, a brand of Japanese shochu. The exhibition is on display through November 26, 2014.
“Don’t throw chewing gum on the platform” 1976.September
“Show your train pass clearly” 1976.September
“I look like Santa Claus…?” 1976.October | the poster reads, “I look like Santa Claus? You’ve had too much to drink. And it’s only October. If you drink, be considerate of the other passengers.”
“SHIMATTA” 1977.March | the ad reads, “Doors are closing. Watch out for shoulder bags.”
“Mary is tired” 1977.December | an image of Saint Mary carrying a Japanese baby encourages rider to give their seats to mothers with small children.
“HOMU DE CONCON” 1979.January | a poster modeled after Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1891 poster “Moulin Rouge: La Goulue.” Although the title appears to be french, it actually reads ホームでコンコン(coughing on the platform) and encourages non-smoking during rush hours.
“Non-Smoking TIME” 1982.December | The 1965 Life Magazine cover of John Wayne is appropriated to urge riders to not smoke during rush hour.