Just when you thought Japanese commercials couldn’t get any weirder.

Japan’s newest commercial about manners on trains may be quite difficult to get your head around.

The commercial produced by Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co. tells a story of two Japanese schoolgirls who face off for one empty seat on a crowded train carriage. Deathly stares between the girls suddenly turns into an “air chair battle”, which then quickly escalates into a very strange dance battle – carried out to the tune of what sounds like someone beatboxing. The sequence even has one of the girls pull of some pretty bizarre funny faces, for what reason I’m still not sure.

If all of that sounds confusing, don’t worry, the video totally clears it all up. You can check it out here:

▼ Schoolgirl funny face number one


▼ The schoolgirls use a random salaryman as an “air chair”


Eventually, the two girls sprint over to a middle-aged man holding onto a safety handle in the middle of the carriage, and they proceed to use the man as an “air chair”. The man doesn’t seem to appreciate being twerked on by two high school girls and awkwardly brushes them aside. The girls connect to form a two girl “air chair” and then, oh no! The girls fall over and we see legs. I’m sure that was completely unintentional on the part of the commercial producers.

So what was the moral of the story? Well, there are a couple of cutaways toward the end of the commercial of other commuters sitting with legs wide apart or with bags rested on the seat next to them or between their legs. And finally we see all these “bad” commuters tidy themselves up and shift along the seat to make room for the two girls to be able to comfortably sit down. So it turns out the moral of the story is make sure you don’t encroach on the space outside your own sitting zone.

▼ Rude commuters spreading out on seats


A Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co. survey found that the most complained about “bad manners” was the way in which some people sit. The company says they hope the advertisement will be an opportunity to change the way some people think about train etiquette.

A very strange commercial attempting to change the way people think, but it attracted people’s attention (and ours) – and that’s half the battle.

Here are some comments from people who viewed the commercial:

“This is a good ad. Well done Nishi-Nippon Railroad!”
“I was drawn to the long hair of the girl wearing the white shirt.”
“They have their backs against the wall! Do you know what an ‘air chair’ is?”
“This is what I call a Japanese-style ad.”

There have been a few commercials in Japan recently about manners on trains including this controversial ad by Tokyo Metro, which criticized women for applying makeup while riding the train.

Do you think this latest commercial promoting train etiquette will have an effect?

Source: YouTube/Nishitetsucojp via Asahi Shimbun,
Images: YouTube/Nishitetsucojp