Fact Check


Does a photograph show an advisory sign for Japanese metro passengers?

Published Oct. 7, 2006


Claim:   Photograph shows an advisory sign explaining priority seating for Japanese metro train passengers.

Status:   False.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

The enclosed picture is of signs in Japanese metro trains.

Through symbols, they instruct riders that the seats they reference are "Priority seats for" (from left to right):

1. person with injured arm

2. person holding a child

3. pregnant woman

4. person with injured leg

The signs are shown in the attachment. Would you have worked this out without the explanation above?


Origins:   Many countries have taken to using pictographic signs in public facilities such as airports

and mass transportation systems to accommodate tourists and other visitors who may not be able to understand signs printed in the local language(s). Sometimes, however, we find ourselves confronted with symbolic signage that seems just as inexplicable as notices written in languages we can't read.

If the advisory sign shown above (purportedly displayed in Japanese metro system trains) seems somewhat puzzling to you, even after you've read the explanation of what it supposedly represents, you're not alone. It isn't a genuine sign; it's a prankishly modified version of the real thing.

The altered version depicts four stages of the ... umm ... process of procreation: a man with an erection, a man and woman engaging in intercourse, a pregnant woman, and a woman giving birth. The original sign looks like this:


The genuine notice advises metro riders that priority seating should be given to:

1) Passengers with children

2) Pregnant women

3) The elderly (or other persons with physical conditions that make it difficult for them to stand)

4) Passengers with leg or foot injuries

Last updated:   16 March 2004

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.