I was waiting for a train at a little train station. And of course that means I had to look at the posters. And that meant I had to take photos of them. So here they are:
“ji” after the 14 (持) means “hour” and the “pun” after the 55 (分) means minute. This is what Japanese people often write for the time.
So anyway, I am standing there wondering: “What happened at 2:55?” The BIG earthquake? No, that happened at 2:46 in the afternoon.
What is this poster for? I asked the train station manager and he said it was not related to the earthquake. The time of 2:55 was, in his words, “just for nuance.” Very confusing.
Later, I asked another person (the worker at the Fukushima Tourist Desk) and she said that that time (14:55) was when the photo was taken….and that she had also seen the posters and was confused by them. So not only me!
I think it not surprising that this poster was no longer there a week later. Coincidence? Hmmm…
Okay, people, put on your thinking caps!
What do you think it says?
It says, “Let’s stop walking with our smart phones.”
Yeah, this means you. Put it down. Right now.
Yamemasyou, aruki sumaho.
“Sumaho” is a very interesting word. Very. Notice it is in katakana. スマホ What does it mean? English speakers, you KNOW this! I know you know this! Think! Think!
Sumaho is an abbreviation of the English “Smart phone.” The first two sounds (to Japanese ears) of “smart” and the first sound of “Phone.”
Su Ma (from “suma-to”) + Ho makes “Sumaho”
Sumaho means “Smart Phone.”
When I first saw this, I thought this said “Abu!” (Short for “Abunai?” Danger?)
But after I started working on this blog post, I looked more closely.
This boys is saying, “Apu!”
What the heck is Apu?
This was a difficult one for me. First I went to the nice lady at the Fukushima Tourism desk, and she expained it to me. Then I did a bit of research on the web in Japanese to verify that I understood what she had explained.
The boy is saying, “Apu” あぷっ which is a shortened form of “Appuppu” あっぷっぷ
This expression comes from a common game in Japan, the “Staring Game” (called “Niramekko”).
During this game in which children stare at each other to see who laughs or looks away first, one says the line:
Niramekko Shimasyo Warau To Makeyo Appuppu
“Let’s play the Staring Game. If you laugh, you lose! Appuppu!”
I am not sure what this all has to do with the message of the poster (in the following photo) but I guess the boy is there for nuance?
At the bottom of that same poster, it says, “Running onto the train is extremely dangerous.”
Kakekomi jyousya wa taihen kiken desu.
In all seriousness, they speak the truth. It’s really dangerous to run onto the train, so don’t do it.
I know because once a long time ago in Tokyo, I was early for my train and was just hanging around on the platform. A train stopped. (Not my train.) Just as it was about to leave, a blonde gaijin woman RAN down the stairs and tried to dash onto the train! Well, the doors slammed in her face. I was dumbstruck, just watching.
Anyway, she fell backwards onto the floor. She immediately got up and RAN back up the stairs and left without saying a word. I don’t know if she was injured or just morbidly embarrassed. (I know I would be.)
By the way, the train doors did reopen immediately, and she could have gotten on, but I don’t think she cared by that point.
I will always remember that scene of that lady falling backwards so I NEVER RUN FOR A TRAIN.
I have no idea what the Staring Game has to do with running onto a train. You’ll have to figure that out for yourself. One of the many imponderables of life.