Kevin Cheng  

Metro Sign

December 17th, 2003 by Kevin Cheng :: see related comic

Signage has always offered HCI people a lot of laughs. A friend of mine recently linked to this sign at a Japanese metro (I think it’s a sign on the train itself, not the station). What do you think the signs mean? I will post a comment with the answers tomorrow.

Japanese Metro Sign

17 Responses to “Metro Sign”
hitoro wrote:

From left to right:

1) People with disabilities (severed leg)
2) Women carrying children
3) Pregnant women
4) Pregnant women in work of childbird going to the hospital

hitoro wrote:

Seems to be a rehearsal of common policies in public transportation where some seats are reserved to some categories of people. More cute than these lengthy texts that nobody reads.

Ed wrote:

Man get’s a woody. Someone has sex with man. Man get’s pregnant. Man has child. Any questions?

Jesse Ezell Blog wrote:

Why Standards Are Better

Tom Chi wrote:

1) Man gets call on his cell phone: ring!
2) Passenger attacks: “I HATE cell phones!!”
3) Man calmly eats passenger: Yum.
4) Passenger apparently still angry a day later.

amanda wrote:

I can’t even tell if the signs are a story progression or seperate signs.

John wrote:

At the risk of being boring and giving sensible answers, my girlfriend has apparently seen this sign in Tokyo, and her understanding was:

1st one is the person who got a broken arm.
2nd one is the person who is with small child.
3rd one is pregnant.
4th one is the person who has a injured leg.

Kevin Cheng wrote:

John is correct. The sign is for seating priority on the train (in other words, please give this seat to those who need it).

As Amanda mentioned, it’s not clear that the sign is not a sequential story due to the linked circles. While diagrams/illustrations are a great way to catch a person’s attention and potentially cross over language and cultural barriers, coming up with ubiquitously understandable signs is incredibly difficult.

My feeling is that this sign tried to do too much. I’m not sure if Japan has a universal disabled sign like they do in North America (the wheelchair icon) but I think that is much more effective. Disabilities do not only refer to wheelchair users and most people understand this concept. The metro sign illustrated tries to illustrate numerous cases. Does this mean I don’t get priority if I have a neck brace? Do elderly passengers not get priority? You can’t possibly list all the scenarios. The main message is that these seats should be given to those in need.

Kartal Guner wrote:

Why does the person have a broken arm coming out of his crotch?

Why is the person with a broken leg pregnant?

Krozar wrote:

1. hard guys get top priority. I guess if you are getting a hand job you should have more priority to a seat!

2. Okay.. now thats just wrong! The two circular lines over the head symbolizes hopping up and down on Mr. hard man!

3. You got her pregnant

4. Since you got her pregnant you have to help deliver it.

mn wrote:

wow, this photo looks very realistic! or did someone actually make this into a sticker and put it on the train window? the original looks like this (toward bottom of page):

http://www.city.kyoto.jp/kotsu/news/2000/2000022.htm

Kevin Cheng wrote:

mn: I have no idea if the picture is fake or not. Until you pointed out the sign you linked to, I thought it was genuine. The sign you show certainly makes much more sense!

I still maintain that it’s difficult to try and enumerate all the various “priority” cases. Showing just one symbolic sign like the wheelchair is sufficient.

Jonathan wrote:

That is definitely a good fake. And for any of you followers of engrish.com, you might be interested to note, it’s apparently a sign for a Priority Sheet.

Eric wrote:

It’s a hoax.
See http://www.snopes.com/photos/signs/metro.asp

Gabriel wrote:

KC shows just what the Design world has of most fun :)

Laura wrote:

The world would be a funnier place with signs like this!

Halo wrote:

It’s a very good site !! Very nice work, admin :) Good luck!


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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?