Chris Schimkowsky is a PhD researcher in the Department of Sociological Studies and the School of East Asian Studies, the University of Sheffield. He is currently conducting fieldwork in Japan as a visiting researcher at Keio and Waseda Universities. His research interests include the emergence, maintenance and disintegration of social order. Chris has previously studied in London, Tokyo and Beijing. 

 Tokyo trains during COVID-19 

“For this comic, Chris collaborated with Amaebi, a Japanese illustrator who is currently working on a series of ‘manner posters’ for the East Japan Railway Company. Part of the Kanagawa-based design team Studio Sue, Amaebi has rich experience of doing creative work for major Japanese companies and publishers. The result of a partnership between researcher and research participant, the comic examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Tokyo’s notoriously congested trains. 

Chris’ research explores efforts by Tokyo railway companies to improve passenger etiquette on public transport. The research enquires into the challenges of governing everyday (mis-)behaviour in contemporary cities through an analysis of company-driven ‘manner improvement’ campaigns targeting mundane passenger practices ranging from boarding behaviour to the correct way to carry one’s smartphone on a crowded train. The project combines participant observation, archival research, interviews with company representatives and passengers, and a visual analysis of ‘manner posters’ employed by transport providers to appeal to passenger etiquette.”