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We are all going through the coronavirus in some shape or form, and governments around the world are taking action in some way and giving differing messages, in order to halt the spread of the virus. In Japan, perhaps due to the use of masks in everyday life and generally high standards of hygiene, the infection numbers have stayed quite low. Recently, however, as numbers have increased in certain areas, policies such as ‘social distancing’ have only just started to be introduced.
It is fair to say that the Japanese government have been giving out mixed messages, so a number of design companies have taken it upon themselves to play their part in assisting the public through easily understood cultural messaging around the foreign concept of ‘social distancing‘.
Design company, NOSIGNER have set up a website called Pandaid and have essentially created a public service site with simple visual explanations of anti-Covid19 measures and downloadable resources to help stop the spread of the virus. The site explains the measures and why they should be practised and uses some interesting cultural imagery to represent the concept of social distancing.
The tatami mat is simple for young and old to understand. Most houses, many restaurants and most traditional Ryokan guest houses use tatami straw mats on their floors.
The ‘mama-chari’ style bikes are also commonly used in every village, town and city across Japan.
The tuna is an interesting choice you might think, but is arguably the nations fish of choice and therefore understood.
Japan’s love of ‘The Beatles’ is huge but adds an interesting angle to the public health message.
Of course, everyone’s favourite official prefectural mascot, Kumamon from Kumamoto has got in on the action in the hope of clearing up confusion around messaging. Instead of the foreign term, ‘social distancing’ the mascot uses the term, ‘Kuttsukanai-mon’ which means ‘Don’t stick (together)’ with Kumamon’s characteristic ‘mon’ added to the end of the word.
Japan is also famously home to giants of the gaming world, so why not create a ‘social distancing’ game! A Twitter user, Gunjo Chikin has created a game inspired by the call for social distancing in which you have to tap other characters to keep them at 2 metres. There is also the appearance of a character resembling Prime Minister Abe handing out facemasks, nodding to central government’s Coronavirus policy. Have a go.
A cute and fun set of ways to get a serious message across. Typically Japanese.