Much is often said about the reluctance of Japanese people to deface public property. And basically, all of what you hear is true.
Or so I thought, until today.
Today... I witnessed one of the worst displays of public vandalism I have ever seen in the eight years I have lived in this country. Yes, while waiting for the subway this morning, I was shocked to discover that some Japanese hooligans had scrawled mercilessly upon a defenseless paper notice, a sign taped to a vending machine, whose only crime had been to notify customers that the machine was turned off to conserve power. It even politely apologized for the inconvenience. Here is the poor abused notice below. (You may have to squint a little to see the pencil markings.)
The scrawling above the official message reads as follows: "You should shut off that escalator too!" Upon deciphering this, I took a look to my left to see a fully functioning escalator just beside a working elevator.
The degenerate- while his methods are questionable- had a point.
But this does not exonerate him of his crimes. For graffiti is a contagious social ill, always threatening to spread among the most vulnerable and impressionable members of any society. Underneath, is my case in point. Written in the awkward handwriting of a child or a foreigner, lies the ominous statement: "Let's make the station even darker."
Darker indeed, now that we all must live in the shadow of your terrible crime!
And just when it seems as if the sign's suffering might never end, another well-mannered Japanese kid has apparently gone bad. "But if the station is too dark," the child has scrawled on the sign: "people could fall and get injured."