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Japan revamps bewildering map symbols

Japan: Foreign tourists in Japan have often complained that the pictograms on Japanese maps are hard to understand. Some are even considered offensive. So now, Japan’s national surveying and mapping agency, the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI), has released a set of new standard symbols for foreign-language maps. The swastika-like symbol for a temple has now been replaced by a three-story pagoda. The big X, which left foreigners scratching their heads earlier, would now be replaced by a legible police box.

Japan new map symbolsA total of six symbols are being replaced, while eight new symbols of convenience stores and tourist information centers are being added. A panel of experts and opinion polls from 1,017 people from 92 countries and regions, including embassy officials, foreign students and tourists on the streets, were utilized for this process.

Takayuki Nakamura, GSI’s executive officer for national mapping, says, “Japanese users are divided in their opinions on the new symbols. Some say we should change symbols for Japanese-language maps also at this opportunity, while others say the traditional symbols should stay. Either way, it will take a while before any changes are made, as we need to coordinate with related government agencies.”

Source: Japan Times