Tokyo-based author and translator Matt Alt has a post up today on Altjapan about the history of anthropomorphizing tsunamis in Japan.
Japan has a long history of using cute mascot characters in situations that can surprise Westerners. In fact, quite often the more terrifying or distressing a situation, the cuter the visual description of it becomes on official posters here.
This may sound counterintuitive or even a little condescending at first, but when you start thinking about it, it makes perfect sense. Whereas, say, photos of damage or devastation would probably cause people to avert their eyes, this sort of presentation lures people into actually reading the sign -- particularly children, as tsunami education needs to start early.
Of course, there's no way to know how many lives public-service campaigns like this saved in the 3-11 earthquake and tsunami. But similar to the ancient stone tsunami-warning markers found dotting the countryside, these cute characters are another example that natural disasters are never far from the minds of people in Japan.
(via Sean Bonner)
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: email@example.com.