A Sign Outside of an Elementary School in Takadanobaba

What: A Sign from the Shinjuku Ward PTA, Yotsuya police department

Where: Outside of an Elementary School

Translation: (not verbatim, not the entire sign) Go home before it gets dark.


Yet another recurring theme of anthropomorphize signage, this poster from the Shinjuku-ku PTA is by far the strangest thing I have yet to see in Japan. On the other hand, as we discussed in during the early childhood and socialization part of the class, it seems to be systematic of the new and bubbling anxiety among Japanese parents that their kids (regardless of how much emphasis is placed on teaching independence in schools) live in a terrible and dangerous world where there are literally shadowy figures hiding behind corners, waiting to snatch them. I wonder, though, exactly why the PTA chose to anthropomorphize a real, although minimal, danger? Certainly, this is an indication of the infiltration of a Western-style of fear-guided parenting proliferating the culture, but taken to a whole other level. The fact that PTA’s still have any shape or form of power in the world is amazing to me as back in the States PTA’s (alternatively called Home&School Associations) are glorified fund-raising organizations. Furthermore, there appears to be a bit of tension between the traditional approach to socialization (let’s reductively call it ‘independence’) and having to remind your kids through a type of proxy-parent in the form of a sign to go home before it gets dark.


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