Tokyo’s street signs to go global for 2020

In Other News Tokyo 2020 - September 18th, 2013

Street signs and menus across Tokyo will get a global makeover with six languages for foreign tourists expected to flock to Japan during the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

The Tokyo metropolitan government said they were considering adding foreign interpretations of Japanese signs on roads, railways, sports arenas and other facilities across the capital.

According to the metropolitan government’s proposal to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Arabic and French will be added to the signs.

Currently, guide boards at sightseeing spots and other areas in Tokyo are written in four languages – Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean.

Tokyo governor Naoki Inose pressed the necessity of using multiple language displays in restaurants and shops, such as menus and commercial goods.

Tokyo also plans to offer various Olympic-related information such as competition results, information on sightseeing spots and transportation guides in multiple languages via monitors in trains to guide more than 250,000 foreign tourists expected to arrive during the summer games.

Some metropolitan officials, however, said the changes could lead to confusion and that displaying multiple languages would take up more space.

“To expand the availability of multiple language displays besides public signboards, the private sector’s cooperation is indispensable. It’s not easy.”

Meanwhile, road signs currently written in Japanese using Roman characters are set to be changed into Japanese and English over time.

By: Maesie Bertumen

Image: ak_tokyo/Flickr