Friday, 12 December 2008

Shibuya Standing Sushi Bar

元祖立食寿司、 にぎり寿司、 1ヶ75円、 にぎりたてのお好きなネタがすぐ食べられます。
がんそりっしょくすし、 にぎりすし、 1ヶ75えん、 にぎりたてのおすきなネタがすぐたべられます。
The originator of stand-up sushi, hand-formed sushi, 1 for 75 yen, your favourite topping stand-up hand-formed sushi can be eaten immediately.

As I said in the last post, restaurants often have heavily stylised kanji on menus and signs. This store has gone for a crystal clear font, except for the Rorschach kanji at top right. You can see 寿司 (すし) in both the weird font and the clear, one above the other. I sometimes think they try to make the kanji as disfigured as possible whilst still retaining borderline legibility. The し looks a little like a cartoon duck.

Anyway, that's some cheap sushi.


そば、 うどん
そば、 うどん
Soba, udon

Remember, it's read right to left. I'll tell you, reading menus and restaurant signs is some of the hardest stuff. Everyone seems to prefer highly stylised scripts, so it's really difficult to make out. It's like trying to read English that's written in an ornate Gothic script. Okay for natives to do, but hell for second language learners. You can see this one is pretty easy because they are using kana, but even so, check out the 'ど'. Now imagine reading kanji written like this.


Mizuho Bank

Mizuho is just the name of the bank.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Downloads - Dec 08

Here is the second sign pack, which runs from the 4th of August up until the 5th of December 2008. There are 80 signs included. As before there are various formats available. The pictures' folder is archived in 7z format because this type supports the preservation of the Japanese file names on each pic, whereas zip doesn't. You can get the free and open source 7Zip program here.

File details:

Excel spreadsheet, 4 fields; number, kanji, kana, English

Excel 97-03 spreadsheet, 4 fields; number, kanji, kana, English

ODS spreadsheet, 4 fields; number, kanji, kana, English

Tabbed text document, 3 fields; kanji, kana, English

Pictures only, no text, 7z format

The files are available here:

It's a (Japanese) Sign Dec 08

The Aug 08 sign pack is available here.

Friday, 5 December 2008


Dr. Kobayashi, dentist.

Kobayashi is just someone's surname.


Underground passage (for crossing the road)

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Garage Sign

Parking, early morning and late at night.

Illegal double parking is everywhere in Japan. People are always dropping things off, picking things up, trying to stay one step ahead of the traffic cops.

Park Ahead

Caution, ahead there is a park, Azabu Police Station, Minato Ward Office.

I don't understand the need for this sign. It's in the back streets of Roppongi. It seems like a traffic sign, so perhaps it's to warn people that there may be kids running about. The thing is, the street it's on is really a narrow, slow moving type of street, I can't imagine anyone hooning up and down it dangerously.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Stop Button on the Bus

とまります、 お降りの方はこのボタンを押してください
とまります、 おおりのかたはこのボタンをおしてください
Stop, people who want to get off, press the button.

Real Estate Office

Yamanaka Real Estate

山中 is just a surname. A real estate agent is a 不動産屋.

Bus Station Sign

To Shibuya station, 15 minutes.



Swing Set

Warning, on days with good weather, this will become hot.

Some signs are useful and some are just funny. This sign was on a large, arty swing set in the park behind Tokyo Midtown. You would think that if you were designing play equipment, you would make sure said equipment didn't become blisteringly hot on sunny days, you know, when kids are likely to play on them.

Post Box

Post / mail

This double crossed 'T' symbol is the postal symbol. 'T' for The Postal Service, I suppose.

Edit: Tokyo5 has kindly explained in the comments that "it's not a 'T'. It's 「〒」's from the katakana character 「テ」('te') for 「テガミ」 (tegami...which means 'postal letter')." Thanks, Tokyo5.

Shop Information

Store information

Buildings are usually filled with a conglomeration of unrelated businesses, and if they are bars or restaurants they usually try to have a list at the front detailing their premises. In department stores also, when they have a floor of eating establishments, there is usually information explaining the different restaurants and their food.

My wife hates going to the department store restaurants because they invariable have only five or six choices which are the same in every department store. The usual suspects include soba, udon, tenpura, sushi, Italian, Chinese and a restaurant which seems to serve pizza and parfaits. We usually end up going to the pizza and parfait one, and getting a cornflake filled parfait. I think the cornflakes are meant to be a cheap replacement for more ice cream. I hate those cornflakes.

Car Park 2

空、 10分 100円
から、 じゅっぷん ひゃくえん
Empty / vacancy, 100 Yen per 10 minutes.

Contrary to the last post, this kanji can be on its own, and is its own word. Parking is expensive in Tokyo.

Car Park

Full (parking lot)

They are using just the one character to show this car park to be full. However, you wouldn't see this kanji on its own usually, it's part of the word 満車 (まんしゃ). So it's an abbreviation.

Height Limit

Height limit 2.0 metres or less.

I saw this above someone's garage door.

Pond Sign

Don't enter the pond.

Good advice.

Restaurant Sign

In preparation (not open for business)

Mostly this is out the front of restaurants, either mid-morning or mid-afternoon, while they are preparing the dishes for the next meal.

Free Taxi

Empty taxi

This is the one to look for when you need a taxi. I find it really difficult to see usually, because it's behind the windshield and sometimes a bit glarey. It's often just as easy to see if there is a person in the back seat or not.

Flower Shop


That flower is a stroke too.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Near a Fire Hydrant.

消防署の通達により、 ここに駐停車できません。 管理組合
しょうぼうしょのつうたつにより、 ここにちゅうていしゃできません。かんりくみあい
Notice from the fire department, you can't stop your car here. Management society (of the building).

I suspect bigger buildings have a kind of maintenance and management office, which is what is probably meant by the management society. The building's management.

On a Train Platform


Some words have an honorific prefix in Japanese, ご or お, in such words as お酒 (おさけ, sake) or ご主人 (ごしゅじん, husband ). A bit of a noob trick, but if you can't find a word in the dictionary and it starts with ご or お, then just remove this prefix and search for the original word.

In Some Shinkansen Station or Another

名古屋・東京方面、 ひかり、 のぞみ、 自由席1-5号車、 停車駅
なごや・とうきょうほうめん、 ひかり、 のぞみ、 じゆうせき1-5ごうしゃ、 ていしゃえき
Nagoya, Tokyo direction, skips-most-stations Shinkansen, extra high speed Shinkansen, unreserved seats cars 1-5, stations where trains stop

Just the most pertinent points. As you can see there is some English. I didn't really know how to format it, and it was hard to shoot because it flashes from English to Japanese over and over.

On a Drink Machine

氷なし、 先に押してください、 マークにはたらきます。
こおりなし、 さきにおしてください、 まーくにはたらきます。
Without ice, press the button before, it works on the ones marked (with the little snowy mountain shape).

I've never tried such an extravagant option on my soft drink. I just take it as it comes, baby.

On a Postal ATM

硬貨を入れないで下さい。 紙幣
こうかをいれないでください。 しへい
Don't put coins (in here). Bills

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Priority Seat

優先席、 おゆずり下さい、 この席を必要としているお客さまがいます。
ゆうせんせき、 おゆずりください、 このせきをひつようとしているおきゃくさまがいます。
Priority seat, please turn over this seat to people who need it:
People accompanying infants, pregnant people, the aged, disabled people.

Not the clearest picture, but it was on the train. You can see the picture corresponds to the types of people described. I especially noticed the picture of the aged person. They are bent forward, which is somewhat of a stereotypical image of an older person in Japan. The reason for this, as far as I can tell, is that older Japanese people are far more susceptible to osteoporosis than Westerners, perhaps because of an aversion to dairy foods leading to a lack of calcium. I've rarely seen someone whose back is really deformed because of this in Australia, however in Tokyo I see these hunched over little old ladies all the time.

To the JR Station

エレベーター、 JR方面、 地上階行き
エレベーター、 JRほうめん、 ちじょうかいゆき
Elevator, the direction to the JR (station), go towards the ground level.

The Metro stations are usually underground, whereas often the JR stations are above ground because they service the further outlying areas of Tokyo.



I saw this at the scene of a minor prang.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Umbrella Bags

After using the umbrella bag, put it into the dustbox (rubbish bin) below.

These are the bags you put your wet umbrellas in when you go into a shop. I don't know if they recycle the bags or not, but it always strikes me as a waste.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


Beware of noise leaking, as for headphone and stereo noise, please moderate them. Subway car manners, please cooperate.

I've been on holiday in Australia. There aren't so many Japanese signs there although I did catch a few.

Monday, 15 September 2008

On a Platform

Liner ticket machine, Chiba home liner (only running on weekdays)

Thursday, 11 September 2008

In a Taxi 4

In an emergency, remove the cover in this direction (and open the door.)

I would rip that thing off so fast in an emergency. On the cover of a taxi door handle. Maybe it's to stop kids accidentally launching themselves from speeding cabs.

In a Taxi 3

Suica, Pasmo and Icoca can be used.

All these are types of Radio Frequency electronic tickets. Suica also means watermelon, 西瓜 (すいか).

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

In a Taxi 2

Late at night and early in the morning there is a 20% surcharge, from 10pm to 5am.

I would call it a 'surcharge' but you might say 'premium'. 割 (わり) is also a signifier for a 'unit of ten percent', so I think the surcharge would be 20%. It wouldn't make sense for it to only be 2%.

On the Bus to Shibuya

Until the bus stops, don't stand up from your seat.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

In a Taxi

Please touch your card here.

I've finally managed to be in a taxi in the daytime and sober. You can pay by Suica or Pasmo RFID cards in some taxis. Mostly you use these electronic tickets on the subway, but they are also being used lately to purchase things from vending machines or at konbinis.


Manga cafe

This large sign advertises one of the amazing manga cafes. You can read manga, watch anime, eat, drink or sleep all night at these places. I've read many an article about freeters sleeping in these places as a cheap alternative to capsule hotels. Don't know first hand whether it's true or not but it sounds uncomfortable.

Sunday, 7 September 2008


Consideration zone

Taken near the priority seats on the subway. I suppose old people don't want to hear teenage conversations. Almost everyone on the subway only uses their phones to text, never to speak on anyway.

Number 9

Train carriage number 9

Three Signs

おねがい 使用済みのトレー・容器は各お店にお戻しください。
おねがい しようすみのトレー・ようきはかくおみせにおもどしください。
Please return trays and dishes (containers?) that you are done using to their respective shops.

If you leave your seat (table), please take your valuables with you.

髪の毛を切らないで!! ほかのお客様のご迷惑になります。
かみのけをきらないで!! ほかのおきゃくさまのごめいわくになります
Don't cut your hair!! It will be a bother to the other customers. (This is a rather odd sign I saw in a convenience store bathroom.)

Thanks go to Johnzep for kindly acquiring and typing up these signs.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Azabu Juban Shopping Street Festival

The Azabu Juban Shopping Street Festival is just an excuse to eat and drink a lot, it doesn't even try to pretend that the festival is attached to some temple or religious holiday.

Japanese savoury pancake


Japanese fried noodles

Chinese noodles in soup

Specially made

Squid balls

The last one is a dish I hadn't seen before, I suppose it's like たこ焼き、(たこやき)、 octopus balls. They are a deep fried batter and octopus mixture. Kind of a Japanese comfort food, but it's not really very appetising, in my opinion.

All of these dishes are usually to be found at festivals. The ice is actually shaved ice with flavoured syrup, great in Summer. The signs were not very kanjified, I tried to pick the most kanjified examples but it wasn't easy. I forced myself to trudge around drinking beer and eating greasy food until I found some good ones.

Monday, 1 September 2008

In Roppongi Station 4

Let's not board the train at the last minute, because it's dangerous.

No one but no one heeds this advice.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Outside a Jonathon's Restaurant

Open 24 hours. The 'Hachiouji-Asahi-chou Branch.

The bottom line is the building's address or name or something. It's hard to tell.

Edit: Tokyo Five to the rescue. Added the street address part.