October 20

No Rescuing Allowed

Tokyo Metro subway poster at Ichigaya station, Yūrakachō line.

This is the first time I’ve seen a Japanese subway poster advising people NOT to follow their noblest instincts. Usually the general public is being admonished to silence their cell phones, put their makeup on at home, crank their earphones down, not pass out on the train, and refrain from shoving a body part into a closing door to delay the departure until they can board.

The other thing about this poster that surprised me is that people attempting save a drunken person who has tumbled off the platform is a frequent enough problem to warrant a general poster warning against it. There ARE tons of way-past-sloshed people at stations from about 10:00 p.m. on, but everybody good-naturedly helps them on their way, sympathizing with a culture that still requires most working people to get drunk with their boss and co-workers on a regular basis. But jumping down on the tracks to save someone? There must have been multiple unfortunate ends to that act of heroism to inspire a subway campaign about it.

Jonelle Patrick is the author of  four novels set in Tokyo

A young woman dressed as a Gothic Lolita is found dead in a car with two strangers. But the more Yumi Hata learns about her friend’s death, the more she’s convinced it was murder…read more