Fujisawa: What do you think of the new rules for standardizing English on public signs?


People interviewed in the tourist area of Enoshima in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, offer their views on new transport ministry guidelines requiring that public signs use standardized English words to replace Romanized Japanese words.

Gunnar, 41
Engineer (Swedish)

It’s a great idea, because I can’t read Japanese and I’d have no chance of reading them otherwise. They should change the more important signs right away but as far as the others are concerned, they should wait until they need replacing, in order to preserve their budget.

Shimoji, 30
Hotel worker (Japanese)

I think it’s necessary to put street signs in Japanese and English, but it would be best if the names of places were mainly in Japanese and the English part was smaller so foreigners would be able to study the Japanese language.

Sharon Harris, 67
Retired (American)

I don’t know if it’s a good idea. Do they have enough foreign tourists here to warrant that? I think they already have lots of signs in English now compared to when I first came here 25 years ago.

Ryan, 26
Chief flight attendant (English)

We managed to get here without English on the street signs but it seems like a good idea to me. It would definitely be more ecologically friendly if they waited until the signs were due to be replaced before changing them.

Arichika Takahashi, 50
Company employee (Japanese)

I think it’s OK to change them but, for example, “Aoyama-dori” should be “Aoyama-dori Avenue” and not just “Aoyama Avenue,” and because English guide books say the name of a temple and “ji” they should keep the “ji” and not just replace it with “temple.”

Zeta, 32
Cabin crew (Hungarian)

I think its a good idea, actually, because I struggle with street signs sometimes when I’m here. It would be best if they kept some of the Japanese names, like “dōri,” and put “avenue” after it because it would be hard to ask directions if they replaced “dōri” with “avenue.”

Interested in collecting vox pops? Email community@japantimes.co.jp

  • keratomileusis

    One has only to think of the following, “Montmartre Street, Maximilianstraße Street, and New Appian Street” to see the folly of this proposal.

    • C.J. Bunny

      Spot on. The tautology is irritating and pointless. And as said, it doesn’t help tourists ask for directions or make anything clearer.
      But they could sort out some of the bizarre Japanese English used for “translating proper names”. Like the National Diet or any of the other odd names that make no sense to tourists and are virtually unknown to Japanese people.

  • Miamiron

    I love how the 40+ Engineer says he needs English signs in a Japanese city because as he put it “I can’t read Japanese and I’d have no chance of reading them otherwise.”

    You know, unless you took an hour a day to study Japanese. Being an Engineer, I`m sure its not too hard to learn a little Japanese.

    • Dismantle_Me

      But maybe he’s only in Japan for a few days on holiday . . . ?

      • Miamiron

        Well for tourists, why not just make English maps available at train stations, bus ports, etc? Also, what about the countless number of free apps that have multi-lingual offline map downloads available?

  • Haime564

    Traders Superstore and learn how to trade and then move to South East Asia and live a life that you never dreamed you could live. That’s what I am doing now and very happy instead of being in fear all the time and stressed.