This paper conducts a synchronic textual analysis on four Japanese manner posters from the 1970s to 1980s. Manner posters have historically played a significant role in public behavior in Japanese cities since 1974. This paper reveals how Japanese manner posters display connections between an emerging Japan and the West. These posters serve as communicative vehicles for commuters to follow rhetorical directives in public transportation sites. This paper also reveals how coded communication within the four posters might be taken for granted by the passive viewer. Moreover, crowded Japanese contexts are ones that highly rely on nonverbal communication for civil cooperation. Several internationally iconic figures in Japanese manner posters are mainly under focus, as these icons serve as metaphors for people in everyday society. Japanese manner posters are defined in this paper as commissioned artworks that include brief, textual lines of how to behave in crowded, public contexts. This paper seeks to unpack a cultural and semiotic code commissioned by Japanese artist, Hideya Kawakita. Kawakita’s work is under scholarly attention because of his radically non-traditional way of creating posters as signifiers to globalization and intersectionality of cultures. When Japanese manner posters are analyzed diachronically, Kawakita’s commissioned work stands out as following a motivated semiotic code that infuses history, context, and culture between Japan and the West.
Keywords: Japanese manner posters, civil cooperation, public transportation sites, iconicity, semiotics