Japan to introduce English road signs ahead of Tokyo Olympics


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yeah they really need to change the sign to suit foreign drivers. so many accidents will be averted if only japan makes an effort to catch up with the rest of the world!

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This will be worth a laugh.

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Interesring is that according to Wikipedia Japanese Stop Signs briefly in the 60's had the word STOP on them!

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stop and slowdown signs, each with English translations beneath Japanese words

This could also help the Japanese with their English...

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Utter waste of time and money.

The inverted triangle is also used in the UK aswill as the octogan. Google shows that France does the same.

Does Japan think that vast numbers of visitors to Tokyo are going to start driving?

The only signs that need updating are sign posts on local roads that do not have a romaji equivalent. There are relatively few and it's not an issue that affects Tokyo.

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This is just another reason for Japanese drivers to ignore Stop and Slow signs. When I first came to Japan I thought stop signs were give-way signs. Partly because of their triangular shape, but mostly because I never saw anybody stop at them. Honestly!

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They fell short of stating the cost to Tax Payers

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To be honest, a "Foreign Driver" stick-on sign for rental cars (like the new driver and elderly driver signs) would be more useful....Japanese roads can be quite confusing regardless of signage, and it might be good if other drivers knew to watch for sudden turns or stops. Anyone renting a car can be given a sheet of paper describing the signs in multiple languages and rental car staff can go over it with them. There are only a couple that matter for safety.

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I suggest they swallow their damn pride and first get some native English speakers to help correct all the stupid arsed Engrish! Which by the way is far more confusing at times that a road sign!

Another.."because of the Olympics rush to waste money".

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How about bring the address system up to the 20th century so that gaijin can find their way around. I can just see Japanese people trying to cope with, "Excuse me. Can you tell me where 3-Chome Street is?"

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First of all, I don't ever recall seeing a foreign tourist driving a rent-a-car. Secondly, if they did, there probably wouldn't be enough cars to meet the demand anyway. I really doubt that the rent-a-car companies are going to increase their fleet for a one month event.

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"Inverted pyramid"? It's neither, but just an equilateral triangle

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How about using international standards?

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@Bertie: In USA, cars are equip'ed with street direction robocall device. so,, youbspeak where you will be going. Then roboanswer device tell you have to turn which side after so and so mile on soo and so street. First all Japanese brand name cars made in USA and ow new cars by Detroit cars behave same. Not in Japan yet?

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Tourists who come to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics in TOKYO will be insane if they rent a car. Subways, trains, and buses will be so much easier and convenient to get to the various Olympic venues. Plus parking will quadruple their cost of staying in Japan.

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Frank Thornton,

First of all, I don't ever recall seeing a foreign tourist driving a rent-a-car.

Really? Okinawa is full of them. Can't speak for other areas.

If the Olympics fans do try to rent a car, they are going to have fun! The only indication of which lane goes where being on the road surface - invisible in heavy traffic. Very few signs. Red lights with green arrows. Cars suddenly stopping in front of you so that the driver can talk on his cell phone and some drivers even watching TV as they drive. Incredibly crowded roads and a totally incomprehensible address system with no street names or house numbers.

If they try to take a bus they'll be in worse trouble. Taxis in the Tokyo area take forever EVEN IF you are lucky and the driver knows the address. And trying to walk somewhere is going to present yet another problem.

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I don't think it's necessary, although it can't hurt unless it's a major tax expense. I think very few (sane) people will rent cars for Tokyo and the Olympics that wouldn't know the signs otherwise. There are better ways the money could be spent on making things more foreign-friendly and international, I'm sure.

And it's weird because I didn't notice the signs had no English... or did I just stop noticing it was Japanese? hmmm... :)

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It seems at least several of the large rental companies have navigation which can be changed to English, so that's half the problem solved. Never seen any English on the rental contract itself though (or Chinese, etc) so I guess still very low demand.

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Just put STICKERS on existing signs if you want to help, stop the pork barrel stuff already eh!

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I can't tell you how many times I have been following signs to a location in Japan and there is no sign at the last turn. Please make an effort to put up "the last sign."

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Stop sign with red plastic, Go with Green plastic and lump behind?

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As a Canadian writer who has been in Japan for anywhere from six to eight weeks every year since 2000, I can unequivocally state that this is the stupidest waste of money I've seen in Japan. And I've seen plenty. The budget for this fiasco would be better spent on signage in subway stations and on bus routes (not to mention the buses, themselves, where drivers show utter disdain for gaijin riders who need simple help..Forget the train stations, they're easy enough. Japan is hideously behind the times, comparatively speaking with other countries when it comes to accommodating English-speaking people. Let's not forget that English is the language of international business. How far behind can Japan continue to trail the herd? Eons.

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@Trevor: There are many people whose countries accepted to send people who work in employee shortage Japanese corporations. They usually are more frequent in English. Like Phillipinos. they will appreciate if traffic signs are bilingual. Then more people are encouraged to work in Japan. Japan should be kind to people who buy Japanese car.

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Tan Light

Will they get signs proofread? Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't.

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What car hire offices have staff that can explain rental terms and conditions? Again a misallocation of resources aimed at the natives to make them think somehow that Japan is 'international'

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Why not use the international signs? How fast is "slow"? In Germany 80kph is slow!

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smithinjapan: "And it's weird because I didn't notice the signs had no English... or did I just stop noticing it was Japanese? hmmm... :)"

Aren't all the road signs in English now? How else would I be able to understand them?

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Its all Greek to me?

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Next thing they'll be naming the streets.

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Like 'benten dori street' lived on that one.

Why add street after diri or michi in the translation?

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Agreed it makes the 'translation' a bit silly, but it helps a non-speaker know what they're talking about. A lot like "Ohori-Koen park" or "Kiyomizu-Dera temple."

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Traffic signs are not a problem. Problem is the the steering wheel on the right side of the car. Worse: the incoming flux is on the wrong side of the road (to a gaijin coming to Japan, of course). Quite confusing the first days.

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Traffic signs are not a problem. Problem is the the steering wheel on the right side of the car.

Funny that, the hordes of European tourists driving around in rental cars in Australia seem to manage the right hand side steering heel.

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