"Don't smoke in a crowd. Coats are expensive."

I just got around to watching Tuesday's Daily Show, and realised that obviously, the Japanese public-etiquette signs David Sedaris mentioned would be on Flickr.

And yes, here they are!

Japanese sign.

Japanese sign.

Japanese sign.

Japanese sign.

Japanese sign.

Japanese sign.

Click through for the full-size, legible version of this last collection. I am mystified by the bottom-right one - "Posters saying 'Don't litter with cigarette butts' are like children scolding adults with paintbrushes."

Perhaps it would be clearer to me if I could read Japanese, or had at some point been scolded by a child with a paintbrush.

9 Responses to “"Don't smoke in a crowd. Coats are expensive."”

  1. Dan Gordon Says:

    My guess is that it's a slightly mangled version of "Won't somebody please think of the children!"

  2. Steven Den Beste Says:

    The Japanese is:


    boi sute kinshi posutaa.
    kodomo ga efude
    otona wo shikatteiru

    "sute"=="to discard". "kinshi"=="prohibit". "posutaa"=="poster". "kodomo"=="child". "efude"=="paintbrush". "otona"=="adult".

    And I think that "boi" means "cigarette butt".

    My Japanese is, frankly, abysmal but I think what it's saying is "A poster forbidding littering with cigarette butts is like a child punishing an adult by striking with a paintbrush."

    My problem is that I can't figure out what shikatteiru means, and since that's the verb, it kind of makes it difficult to understand any of the rest of it.

  3. Steven Den Beste Says:

    One of my friends straightened me out on some of this.
    "boisute" means "littering". "boisutekinshi" means "littering being forbidden".

    "de" means "with" and "shikatte-iru" means "scolding". So the whole thing comes out as:

    A poster forbidding littering: (It's like) a child scolding an adult with a paintbrush.

    Plurals are usually implied, not explicit, so all of that could be either singular or plural.

  4. corinoco Says:

    Much better than the wussy 'don't litter' campaigns we get here. I don't know what it is that makes smokers in particular think butts are invisible.

    Smoke if you want; I really don't care what you do to your lungs, but don't treat my planet as your ashtray.

  5. Jay Says:

    I think it's more of a "why should you, as an adult, have to be reminded not to litter? Public reminders should be for the immature, not the mature."

  6. Tim Says:

    I asked a friend in Japan about the expression without providing the context of the sign - his response consisted of 3 questions: "Who's scolded? Who have a paintbrush? Why? I can't understand the meaning of the expression."

    Pretty safe to say this isn't exactly a common expression. I sent the picture of the sign along - we'll see what he has to say (though he lives in Matsue, Shimane rather than Ota, Gunma - if he lived in Ota he'd probably know what I was asking about).

  7. Tim Says:

    My Japanese friend confirms that it's a nonsensical statement. He got quite a kick out of the signs. They're probably using nonsense to get the attention of passersby.

  8. Jonadab Says:

    > Much better than the wussy ‘don’t litter’
    > campaigns we get here

    I always liked ODOT's signs: "If you litter, fine. Up to ten thousand dollars." Of course, that's not aimed specifically at cigarette butts, and I've never heard of anyone being fined the maximum amount. Still.

  9. Mister Peepers Says:

    It appears that in Japan, the people are small, but the cigarettes are huge! Judging by the sign, they must be at least three feet long!

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