Tokyo Damage Report

folk art

Random posters:



The poster's mascot above respresents . . . .guess what? A municipality is seeking a mascot!

$3,000 to the resident who draws the new mascot. What are the odds that the mascot they choose isn'T half as cool as ms. Mystery Egg here?

Below: a parrot warns you to not play on train tracks.

Now for some anti-crime posters:

Despite the "anime-ish" art, this poster is directed at parents, not kids. It says, "Don't take your eyes off your children! Don't let them ever be alone."

Below, an add for the "Nationwide Safety Zone Activity Campaign":

The slogan of the Nationwide Safety Zone Activity Campaign: "Protect the streets that I love!"

Another design with the same slogan – Nate from "" says, "If this were the cover of a 45, I'd buy it!"

Below: another poster in the same series. . . . but more ambiguous.

Huh? What is the artist trying to convey here?? "Play soccer, go to jail?"

I thought most cities TRY to get kids to play sports to keep them OFF the streets?

Below: A poster warning about furikomisagi (振り込み詐欺), which is the Japanese equivalent of Nigerian spam.

Furikomisagi is like you'll get a phone call from someone who gives you a big story, and then asks you to go to the ATM and wire your money directly to their account.

I think it says something about Japan that this kind of simple-minded crime is such a big deal. Either Japanese are madd gullible, or (alternatively) Japan is such a safe country that the cops have to make a big stink about totally ineffective crimes, just to keep folks scared. I have no idea which.

Below, another typical anti-crime poster, warning about HITTAKURI TAHATSU (literally the "rash" or "surge" of  hittakuri)

What's hittakuri? Driving by old ladies on a motorbike and snatching their purses.  The skilled detectives amongst you will note that it's THE SAME GUY

that was just doing FURIKOMISAGI in the previous poster.  he bought a helmet – i guess with the money he got from phone fraud. I don't understand why – if he's such a slick crook – why he'd choose a disguise that totally resembles his real face (pictured above). Kind of defeats the purpose!

Moving on. . .

Here's a series of BOUHAN PATOROURU (anti-crime patrol) posters from Ookubo, Tokyo's immigrant neighborhood.

The thing that makes these posters different from the professionally designed posters above: the bouhan patorouru posters are folk art.

Hence the title of this piece.

They're drawn by – who? Kids? Or adults who use a childish style because they're trying to get kids to read it? Who knows?

They're all kind of outsider art, and just like other folk customs, they're grass-roots, and have their own set of informal rules and customs.

Motifs and things that repeat from poster to poster.


Above: the electronic rape whistle . Yes they really exist. Also yes, they do look like Tamagochi.

Below: a common theme in these posters: clocks.

More clocks!

The clocks make plain what the rest of the posters just hint at: despite the title of "Patrol", the real lesson of the posters is:

"Kids! If you get kidnapped or raped, it's your fault. No one is going to help you. You should have gone home earlier and had more damn common sense."

This is an example of 自己責任 (jikosekinin), which is one of the more fucked words in the Japanese lexicon.

Literally it means "self-responsibility."

But in practice, it means "It's your own fault. When such-and-such happened to you, it was a nuisance to those around you to step over your dead body."

It means, "Even when alone you have a responsibility to act properly." 

Of coruse it helps if kids have street-smarts, but  telling little kids cops are useless? That is kind of fucked. I guess that is part of why the Yakuza can operate so openly. The regular cops don't help people, so if you need help you go to your local godfather.

It's all the bad parts of individuality (responsibility ) with none of the good parts (creativity, freedom).

Basically if you're not in a group,  you're responsible for bad things – even if it's not your fault.

But if you're in a group, you're NOT responsible even if it IS.

You'd never use 自己責任 for someone in a group, if something bad happens. Instead, you'd use 説明責任 (setsumeisekin), which literally means "responsibility to explain." Like explaining is enough, you don't have to actually make restitution to your victims, or even tell the truth. Any excuse is ok if you're in a group.

Anyway, on with the show:









Finally, another furikomisagi poster:

This poster actually lists some common techniques of phone fraud, so I've translated it here – with some help from Nate.


Isn’t This All A Bunch Of Furikomesagi??
“The process to receive your tax-rebate stimulus check from the government is really difficult! Allow me to act as your surrogate. If you give me your bank account number, I can get you your check fast!  If you request, I can help you with these difficult application procedures. Please let me see all the related documents.”
(someone claiming to be your son or grandson and using their name): “There’s been a problem at work / money has been embezzled / I was entrusted with the boss’ money which he gave me to take somewhere / The price of our company’s stock has plummeted” . . .these are the pretexts that the “ore ore” fraudster uses to get you down to your ATM: “I need money really seriously! Can you lend me a hand? Can you do a wire transfer of funds from your bank right now?” Sometimes they’ll send someone in person on a motorcycle who is claiming to be a friend of your son’s or something like that – they’ll come by in person to pick up the money in cash!
You haven’t paid your monthly fee for such-and-such a website. If you don’t pay right now, we’ll have to charge you late fees and penalties. But if you put cash in an envelope and FedEx it today
TAX REFUNDS-and-so-forth FRAUD:
“You are eligible for a tax / medical insurance refund. Quickly go to the nearest unmanned ATM and you will receive further instructions by phone. Hurry up!” 
Not sure how successful this one is.
You’ll get a phone call or some junk mail saying, “We can loan you money at really low rates, but first you have to wire us some money as collateral.”
If you get a strange phone call asking for money, stay calm and arrange a meeting with your local police!
3 comments Tags: , , ,

3 Comments so far

  1. TAOISTIC April 20th, 2010 11:03 pm

    (holy shit that wolf's head is coming out of her neck)
    These posters are awesome! I'm surprised that they aren't turning those shady grinning criminals into cartoonish foreigners.

  2. Steve April 21st, 2010 8:09 am

    They have posters like this all over Hong Kong as well. At first I thought it was some gradeschool project, but I guess not.

  3. Marupinku May 6th, 2010 10:20 pm

    TOMATO STEAL!  I love them.

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