PHOTO: Japan makes its signs English friendly. (photo via Flickr/Terrazzo)
While the spirit of Olympic sport is universal, language is not.
Japan has taken great steps to prepare for its upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020 and it is now moving to change major parts of its signage.
The news comes by way of JapanToday.com, which explains the country’s National Police Agency showed off designs for the new stop and slow signs that will greet visitors – first in heavily trafficked areas such as around airports. The turnover will be extensive, and the report states: “The new versions will gradually replace the roughly 1.7 million stop signs and 1,000 slow down signs in Japan.”
You can expect to see some of the changes as early as July, which will help a wildly popular tourist destination.
The report reminds that just last year Japan enjoyed a record number of foreigners coming to enjoy its eclectic nightlife and equally diverse landscape. We also imagine the country can expect to greet more than that 24 million that entered its borders last year when the Olympics comes around.
There is no cost attributed to the makeover. However, CityLab reported on the then-possible switch back in January 2016.
The estimates for the change at that time were impressive: “The government estimates the bill for replacing every sign in Japan with a more ‘global’ design would total 25 billion yen, or $214 million.”
Now, we might temper that cost a year later in that officials managed to maintain the overall shape of the actual signs. Japan Today explains: “The agency decided to maintain the shape as a survey of about 500 foreign drivers showed the current shape is more easily recognizable to foreigners than changing the shape to an octagon.”
This isn’t the only switch you might see over in Japan. The city of Morioka, which is in the Iwate Prefecture, decided to bring a bit more transparency to the proceedings by unveiling a long list of whimsical signs that would adorn its restaurants and attractions.
Back in 2014, TravelPulse’s James Ruggia outlined some of the other changes that were about to take place: “Kenzo Tange’s Yoyogi National Stadium, an important stage of the ’64 games, is being retrofitted by architect Zaha Hadid to give it a new look. Officials are also considering the addition of a $210 million cable car system that will be used to connect the Olympics sites to the Ginza district.”
Another development, the move of the famed Tsukiji Market, has been postponed. But the rest of Tokyo and her outlying areas continue to prepare.