Japan Survival Guide
Important Kanji To Know

So you can't read all that much Japanese, but you've still got to get around... not a problem! Here are some of the most common signs that a travelor will want to know about, and what they mean.

Bank - Police - Coin Lockers - Subway - Post Office - Stop Signs
Open/Close - Push/Pull - Coffee - Books! - Tabacco (Cigarettes)

Post Office
This will be outside any building with a post office inside. Sometimes, the whole building is the post office; more often, just one floor is, so also look for the sign inside if you get confused. Oh, and if you see this sign outside of a store, look closer... it might only be an advertisement stating that the store sells stamps and postcards!
[The left photo was taken somewhere in Tsuruoka, Yamagata prefecture; the right was taken somewhere in Tokyo.]

Stop Signs
Whether driving or walking, it's a good idea to know where cars have to stop. These two signs say the same thing -- tomare, "stop" -- in two different ways, the one on the left using the Chinese kanji for the sound "to", and the one on the right using the Japanese kana for the same sound.
[The left picture is from a shopping area near the Ikebukuro JR Station, and the right picture is from a street in Nishikasai ward... and both are in Tokyo.]

Both of these pictures are button controls in elevators. In both pictures, the kanji on the left is for hiraku, "open", and the kanji on the right is for tojiru, "shut/close".

The word "PULL" in...

Kanji <-> Kana

"PUSH" in Kana

I apologize in advance; I have no picture of the kanji for hiku, "pull". I will correct this as soon as possible. To the right, however, is the kanji for osu, "push". You'll see both of these on about fifty-percent of the business related doors you run into in Japan, so you'll save yourself a lot of frustration and embarrassment by remembering this one!
[I have no idea where I took this picture.]

Bank - Police - Coin Lockers - Subway - Post Office - Stop Signs
Open/Close - Push/Pull - Coffee - Books! - Tabacco (Cigarettes)

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All illustrations in these pages are copyright (c)2002 Garth Haslam, and shouldn't be used without his permission. To contact him Click Here!