Japanese Warning Signs: Watch Your Fingers!

I took this picture of a Japanese warning sign in an elevator a few years ago. I thought it was kind of humorous with the fingers getting munched and the tearful face.

WATCH YOUR FINGERS

Actually the text reads:

ドアにちゅうい or “Mind the door!” Pronounced “doh-ah ee chooo-eee” with a slightly longer “ooo” sound than usual.

Which is also re-iterated in the text below, only in kanji this time:

注意

This has several different translations but means essentially “take care” or “be mindful” or “watch out for” etc. You will see 注意 a lot on signage like this, usually on or in trains by the door warning you to not get your fingers caught in the sliding door.

You’ll also hear this at nearly every single train station stop when you’re on board the train. Something like “go-chuui kudasai” (ご注意下さい) in reference to exiting the train, which means just “please watch out” or inferred “watch your step.”

The rest of the sign reads like this:

ドアにふれないで! けがをするおそれがあります。

or

“Don’t touch the door! There is a risk of injury!”

its also worth mentioning that “door” here is spelled out in katakana, which is one of the two Japanese phonetic “alphabets” saved for borrowed foreign words or used for emphasis.

ドア is literally pronounced “doh ah” or “door.” Yup, its English, only spelled out in Japanese. You will find a lot of this, and often its hard to figure out that it IS actually a borrowed word, because it will be forced to follow Japanese pronunciation rules.

On this sign, I’m assuming that its mostly written in phonetics so that smaller children would be able to read it, and it seems fitting that the warning sign would be aimed at kids who might be sticking their hands in places they don’t belong….

So there’s our first Japanese warning sign. There will be plenty more of those to come, I assure you.

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