I don’t know why, but Japanese LOVE slogans and mottos. If you walk into a train station, a poster will say, “Children are watching. Mind your train manners” or simply, “Walk! Don’t run”. Elevators in traditional office buildings might say, “Quiet please in the elevator. You don’t know who is listening” (which is actually pretty smart advice) or, like I saw the other day, “Greet your colleagues with a smile.” If you look around, I can guarantee that you will see slogans everywhere. In fact, until recently, men would walk around neighborhoods, clapping two blocks in a steady rhythym shouting, “Take care with fire!” in a solemn monotone. It’s a holdover from when people had wood-burning ovens or gas stoves with valves that needed to be closed every night. The practice has all but disappeared, though I know it’s still around in some areas because I heard it recently.
Japanese are trained in slogan-writing as a child. When I was in fifth grade, I remember homework, where we had to create our own poster about staying healthy. In sixth grade, we had to create a poster, about an environmental issue — I vaguely remember doing something about smoking, but there were others on littering or pollution.
The best one that I saw recently was a bathroom in an office building. The toilets were Japanese style, where you have to squat. Right at eye level, there was a piece of paper that said, “How you use the toilet is a reflection of yourself.”