Japanese has a variety of personal pronouns, rather more than are found in English. For 'I', for instance, Japanese has pronouns like watakushi, watashi, atashi, washi, boku, ore, and uchi, each with a distinctive usage.
These can be made plural by the addition of -domo or -tachi for more formal terms and -ra for more informal terms, thus watakushi-domo or watakushi-tachi, washi-ra, boku-ra, ore-ra, etc.
The same goes for the second person ('you') and third person ('he / she / it / they') pronouns.
Many of these pronouns are supposed to be written in Chinese characters. Watashi is , boku is , ore is , kimi is .
Thus it is interesting to find that many signs and advertisements in public places use katakana for such pronouns, as can be seen from the following examples.
It is interesting to speculate on the reason for this practice. It may be related to the Japanese tendency to use hiragana rather than Chinese characters (kanji) for function words. This is especially the case since the characters in question have particular meanings. The character means 'servant', the character means 'master', etc. Using kana leaves these specific meanings behind. For advertising, in particular, such meanings may be intrusive and avoiding characters gives an up-to-date image.
Of course, some pronouns still use kanji, especially watashi, as in the following advertisement.
The following are the results of a Google search on the Internet (August 2003).
Note that can also be read kun, which distorts the results.