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6 comments

Japan May Change Signage Ahead of 2020 Olympics

Posted February 05, 2016 12:00 AM by Hannes
Pathfinder Tags: japan olympics signs

Roads and maps have interested me for some time now. There's something about driving a route that was traveled by countless predecessors for hundreds or thousands of years that piques my interest.

Little did I know that there's a (presumably) small but dedicated group of so-called roadgeeks who take trips to experience the road and take pictures of signage. These guys might drive to my home state, for example, to see and discuss the country's highest numbered interstate, shortest interstate, or particularly interesting interchanges. I'm haven't yet reached that level of fanaticism, but maybe I'll get there someday. I am, however, roadgeek enough to care about some interesting changes to signage and maps that various Japanese agencies are considering ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

The more finalized proposal to alter Japanese signage involves new pictograms on foreign-language maps of the country. Japan's Geospatial Information Authority (GSI) polled over 1,000 people from 92 foreign countries to aid their development of 18 new map symbols. The most notable altered symbols give an interesting look at the country's attempt to satisfy different cultural requirements. For example, the Japanese symbol for a police station is a simple 'X' representing two crossed police batons, but foreign language maps produced ahead of 2020 propose instead using a saluting guard-like figure. And the Japanese symbol for post office--which resembles a 'T' inside a circle and is supposedly derived from a 19th-century Japanese term meaning "communication"--would be replaced with a more universal envelope image.

A more striking example involves changing the swastika-like manji representing Buddhist temples to a silhouette of a stereotypical temple tower. This one in particular has been met with backlash from native Japanese, who contend that the ancient Sanskrit symbol (shown on this page) has been associated with Buddhism since long before its use by the Nazi Party stigmatized it worldwide. They also believe Westerners could learn a bit of Japanese history by discovering the truer origins of the symbol.

Japan's National Police Agency (NPA) is also considering a redesign of the country's stop signs ahead of the Olympic Games, which shines some light on an interesting difference in international signage. In almost every part of the world since the 1960's, stop signs have taken the form of red octagons with 'STOP' written in that country's script. And interestingly, Japan adopted that design (even adding 'STOP' in English) from 1960 to 1963 before switching to their current design, the inverted red triangle seen here.

The NPA plans to survey foreigners in a similar fashion to the GSI poll mentioned above and expects to complete the survey by the end of next month. Replacing each and every sign would cost the nation over 25 billion yen. The project would presumably cost less if the NPA decides to just add the English 'STOP' to every existing sign, an option they're also considering.

It's not unusual for Olympic hosts to take drastic measures to accommodate the massive influx of tourism, and Japan's no exception. The country has a proven track record for adapting to tourists anyway: in 2013 it changed romanized Japanese street signs to straight-up English translations to accommodate foreigners. Speaking for myself, if I were visiting a country notorious for earthquakes and tsunamis, I'd certainly appreciate clear signage directing me where to take shelter in the event of another disaster.

Image credits:

Eastwind41 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons | Public domain

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#1

Re: Japan May Change Signage Ahead of 2020 Olympics

02/05/2016 8:29 AM

I personally feel that if you are visiting their country, you should adapt to them and learn their signs. They shouldn't have to adapt to you.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Japan May Change Signage Ahead of 2020 Olympics

02/05/2016 11:06 AM

That makes sense if you are visiting their country out of the blue. But Japan is hosting a world wide event. They want a lot of visitors from all over the world to attend.

Japan certainly doesn't have to change anything to accommodate the tens of thousands of visitors who will only be there a short time. But it's probably in their best interests to make the visitors they are hosting as comfortable as possible and make things as easy as possible for them to get around.

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#5
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Re: Japan May Change Signage Ahead of 2020 Olympics

02/06/2016 9:26 AM

And it's their culture...very polite and accommodating.

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#3

Re: Japan May Change Signage Ahead of 2020 Olympics

02/05/2016 1:31 PM

I would just print

on that vinyl stuff that seems to cling to anything, put them on the signs before the Games and then just peel them off when they're done. If you do anything at all.

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#4
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Re: Japan May Change Signage Ahead of 2020 Olympics

02/05/2016 6:57 PM

Come on, let's see how many OT's I can get on this puppy. Please add some more. I added my own five to whoever put the first one on there. Is there a CR4 record for OT's? Maybe I can get into Guinness.

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#6
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Re: Japan May Change Signage Ahead of 2020 Olympics

02/09/2016 6:12 PM

"Is there a CR4 record for OT's?"

Yep, about 11 million. I must have really pi$$ed that guy off!

http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/62315/Electrical-Meters

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