Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Smoking in Japan is funny. In a country where close to 47% of the men smoke, and where you can buy personal, portable ashtrays for your purse at the ¥100 ($1) Store, the smoking culture is completely different from back in the States. If you ask high schoolers why they don't smoke, they won't give you a health-class schpeal about cancer or tooth decay, but usually state it's because they aren't of age yet. Most restaurants don't have a non-smoking section...if they do, you usually have to walk through a thick, carcinogenic haze before reaching the tiny non-smoking area in the back (which often is equipped with ashtrays anyway).

The biggest campaign against smoking here in Japan is against the littering of cigarette butts, and the smoke that could potentially get in other people's faces while walking down the street. Because of this, there has appeared a Smoking Manners Movement through some fabulous signs with strange statements written in the first-person. Vying for humor with the statements are the accompanying illustrations themselves. I LOVE them. As a tribute to the Japanese haiku of textbooks galore, I have named them Tobac-ku. Enjoy:

The cool cowboy flicks his cigarette butt into the street. But he lives in an old movie.
(Tobacco...Hero...A long time ago...Villain)

I threw my cigarette butt into the drain. That is to say, I hid it in the drain.
(Toss away.)

Soaking in the rain, a cigarette butt grows and grows.

Where does the smoke go? Only the person producing it is unconcerned.
(Smoker...Neglect...Route of smoke)

Check out the helicopter placement for scale:

A cigarette is carried at the height of a child's face.

I carry a 700 degree C fire in my hand with people walking all around me.

The cigarette butts are always more noticeable when I'm walking my dog.

Smoke is billowing from a stand ashtray. If it were my home, I wouldn't be so calm.
(My home...Stand ashtray)

And perhaps my most favorite of them all (definitely t-shirt quality):

Inhaled. Burned. Thrown away. If it were anything but a cigarette, it would surely be crying.
(Meet...Love...The end)

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