23 Japanese Map Symbols to Know and New Ones for Foreigners
As we wait for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the GSI (Geospatial Information Authority of Japan) has created new map symbols for international tourists visiting Japan. This is the first time for this to happen in Japan’s long history. The spurring force behind this, in addition to being more user-friendly for the increasing number of visitors to Japan, is the similarity of the 卍 temple symbol to the Nazi symbol.
The reaction to this announcement overseas, to clarify for the avoidance of doubt, is not to “change” the map symbols but “add”. In short, keep the current symbols so the Japanese will understand, but also add the new symbols on maps intended for international tourists so that it is easier for non-Japanese to decipher.
In this article, we’ve brought together both the new map symbols along with traditional symbols that are good to know for traveling or living in Japan. We hope you’ll use them as a reference.
Part of Planned Update to Map Symbols
*Left: Original (Used by Japanese), Right: Newly Added (for International Community)
Koban (Police box)
Useful Japanese map symbols to know
There are mixed reactions toward these additional map symbols coming from both Japan and overseas. Some say that it’s strange to change a traditional symbol that’s been used for forever. The retraction of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic emblem is still fresh in people’s minds, but perhaps it’s a forte of the Japanese to simply take back a principle, treat it with flexibility, and have it be suitable to people.