A screen grab from the Tokyu Corp. TV advert
A screen grab from the Tokyu Corp. TV advert

Japan’s Tokyu Corp. has been running trains in Tokyo since 1922. That’s 94 years of ferrying millions of people around, which means the company should have learned a lot about the needs of its passengers.

One lesson it seemingly hasn’t learnt: Don’t mess with women when it comes to putting on makeup.

There are lots of rules on Tokyo’s massive network of train lines, unwritten or otherwise. It’s frowned upon to eat and drink on the train, for example, and talking on a mobile phone can win a disapproving scowl or even a suggestion to stop the yakking.

One habit that’s started in recent years is women using a train ride to pull out a hand-held makeup case to adjust their foundation, lipstick, mascara or whatever.

Tokyu Corp. decided it needed to put a stop to that behavior and recently ran a television advertisement of a woman prancing up and down in a subway car in front of other female passengers applying lipstick. The soundtrack yells “mittomonai” or “unsightly.” Basically cease and desist with the makeup stuff. Bad idea.

Japan’s social media has lit up with Japanese women infuriated by the Tokyu advertisement and blasting the company for interfering in the entirely personal business of applying face paint.

To be fair, Tokyu’s TV add starts off with suggestions for generally paying more attention to others on subways, such as not walking down the platform staring at a mobile phone and bumping into people (that gets my vote). Still, it’s the second part of the TV ad that has Tokyu’s female passengers furious. You can see it for yourself here:

YouTube video