All About Japan

Smile, You're on Hanshin Camera!

Smartphones Trains Kobe Osaka Kansai

While most train operators in Japan have been combating the dangerous trend of people walking while looking at their cellphones with signs and posters advising the dangers of aruki sumaho, the Kansai area’s Hanshin Electric Railway has taken it a step further with this clever commercial.

The commercial begins with producers setting up a camera system and microphones on a train platform. Then, the team lies in wait, watching for unwary commuters using their smartphones while walking.

At this point, the commercial’s producers use the speaker system and video screen to explicitly call out the offending commuter with lines like, “You there, in the pink cardigan. Walking while texting is dangerous!” and “There is currently a mother pushing a stroller while playing with her smartphone on the platform.”

In Japan’s “shame culture,” it’s easy to see how being specifically singled out for everyone to see could be an especially effective reminder that the practice of playing around on your device while navigating the subway is inherently dangerous. In fact, some of the people featured in the video look downright horrified.

Unfortunately, here’s where we have to break down some of the illusion of this creative ad: Japan has extremely strict privacy laws when it comes to filming people in public, so anyone whose face isn’t blurred out (the commuters accused of walking while smartphoning) are either paid extras or signed a waiver after being filmed. And, lo and behold, the end of the video features a short disclaimer admitting the use of hired extras.

While knowing the horrified reactions of being caught are just amateur acting kind of diminishes the message a little bit, we’re definitely hoping the ad catches eyes and puts a stop to accidents before they happen. Although, with the ad being on YouTube and all, we’re pretty sure a lot of people are going to be seeing it on their smart device while, uh… walking through the subway.

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