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.
These simple characters say it all... it's the Japanese kana for ko-hi-, "coffee". This is from the bottom of a sign advertising a combination book store/cafe, thus the big symbol for hon, "book", on the top of the sign. I'll get a better shot later; there are plenty of full-on coffee houses in Japan, but I don't drink coffee... so I don't frequent them.
[From a shopping area near the Ikebukuro JR Station in Tokyo.]
Okay, so maybe you don't need to know this one... but it's sure important for me to be able to spot! The kanji for hon, "book", is usually either red on a white field, or white on a red field; this appears to be a national convention, but I don't know why. Of course, odds are that only I'm worried about this...
[Yes, once again, both pictures are from a shopping area near the Ikebukuro JR Station in Tokyo.]
Need your "coffin nails"? Well, you'll be gratified to know that there's nothing like a "no smoking" area in Japan. With that in mind you'll be on the look out for stores that display the Japanese kana for tabako -- tabacco. The bottom part of both these convenience store signs states tabako clearly; and most convenience stores signs tend too. And, no... I don't smoke.
[Both pictures are from a shopping area near the Ikebukuro JR Station in Tokyo.]
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