Duct-Tape Typography of the Tokyo Subway

Monday August 05, 2019 Written by James

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Next time you’re lost in Tokyo’s maze-like subway system, say a prayer for Shuetsu Sato. He’s a 65-year old station employee whose job is to guide busy commuters (and despairing tourists) through the labyrinth unscathed.

A few years ago, Shuetsu realised he needed more than a megaphone to get the job done. So he started making worksite signs and sticking them up all over Tokyo. He only had two tools: a roll of standard-issue duct tape and a craft knife. Turns out that’s all you need to make beautiful typography. Shuetsu designed a particular kanji that worked in straight lines, up-down and side-to-side, then cut out the curvy bits with his trusty blade.

Shuetsu’s lettering was so beautiful (and the guidance so helpful) that he quickly grew a cult following. He’s been asked to design logos and movie titles, published a duct-tape typography guide, and street-art groupies now hunt his work with more zeal than a fresh Banksy. There’s even an official typeface named after his style: Shuetsu Sans.

Just make sure you stick to directions.

For more of Sato’s work, search Instagram or Google for 佐藤修悦 or 修悦体.

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