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.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Somewhere 11

Fare adjustment machine

If you don't know which station you are going to and therefore you don't know how much it will cost, the trick is to just buy the lowest fare ticket, and then get it adjusted at your destination. It's great when the subway map is all in kanji and you're not sure of the station.

Friday, 29 August 2008

In Roppongi Hills 3

Cancel, edit, accept

That's my daughter's shoe in there. I promised her I'd leave it in. For the noobs, the other kanji are 千 (せん) thousand, and 円 (えん) Yen. These buttons are on a Postal ATM.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Somewhere 10

Priority seating

This sign is meant to allow old, pregnant or injured people to get a seat on the train. However, there are some Japanese rules of etiquette which can circumvent this rule. The only way to be rude in Japan is if you know you are rude. If you bump into someone but keep walking, that's fine, you didn't realise you'd bumped into them. If you walk past a coworker on the street on a Saturday morning and not say hello, it's okay as long as you look as if you hadn't noticed them. And lastly, if you pretend to be in a deep sleep while sitting in the priority seats, there's no need to stand up no matter how old or pregnant the person who needs it looks.

Now if the needy person is a bit adventurous, they may say すみません or something, and force the salaryman or teenager to notice them. Then they will immediately jump out of the priority seat and apologise as if they'd only that moment realised someone needed the seat. Hardly anyone will ever move of their own accord.

Somewhere 9

Convergence.(as in a combined sewer 「合流渠」)

I assume this was a sewer cover, I mean I didn't go down and check it out or anything.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

In a Kyoto Park 4

Front facing car park, while in the car park, turn your engine off.

I suppose the quiet tranquillity of a Japanese garden is not compatible with people napping in their cars with their air conditioning, and hence the engine, on.

In Kyoto Station 4

Urgent stop switch (at rear)

Sorry for the poor updating, my laptop's backlight is out and it's hard to replace a light bulb, apparently. Don't worry, I'm still taking pictures, just not translating them too much. I'll do you a deal, at least one new sign a day. Can't say fairer than that, guvnor.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Somewhere 8

Elevator operating time, 6:10 to last train

The last trains are surprisingly early for such a busy city as Tokyo. Around midnight the subway shuts down and drunk salarymen usually decide to just lie down and go to sleep wherever they can.

Somewhere 7

改札階、 ホーム
かいさつかい、 ホーム
Ticket examining floor, platform

It's just a variation on ticket gate, but with less gate.

Somewhere 6

Authorised people only, do not enter

In Kyoto 2

City bus

In a Kyoto Park 3

After you drink, recycle (the bottle/ can)

Most vending machines have recycle bins next to them. Good luck finding a normal bin for your regular rubbish, though.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

In a Kyoto Park 2

Warm (thing)

On a vending machine. It's short for 暖かい (あたたかい). Again, it's used for warm things, as opposed to hot weather which uses 暑い (あつい).

In a Kyoto Park

Cold (thing)

On a drink vending machine. This is used more for things, rather than  寒い (さむい) which is more used for weather.

In Kyoto Station 3

お預入れ、 お引出し
おあずけいり、 おひきだし
Deposit and withdrawal

Johnzep has kindly mentioned that this means 'withdrawal', not a deposit drawer.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

At Kyoto Museum


A slightly less formal way to say toilet. This literally means 'hand washing'.

In a Kyoto Department Store


A fancy word for toilet. Kind of like saying washroom, restroom, bathroom, lavatory etc. I see this in department stores a lot.

In Kyoto Station 2

お弁当、 サンド、 お飲物
おべんとう、 サンド、 おのみもの
Bento (Japanese lunch box), sandwiches, drinks

On a Shinkansen platform. I assure you I wasn't drunk when I took this. Sandwiches is shortened to 'サンド' in Japanese, I suspect 'w' and 'ch' sounds are quite hard for Japanese speakers.

In Nara Station

Shinkansen (bullet-train) boarding place

You always see the Shinkansen in textbook examples, like it's a common talking point amongst the Japanese or something. I think they're just bragging, but here's the sign in a Shinkansen station. 線 is used for drawn lines and also train lines, as in English.

In Roppongi Station 3

Emergency exit

It took me such a long time to find one of these signs without 'exit' also written on it. However, I eventually saw this one in my local station of all places. I'd been searching all over Tokyo and there was one in Roppongi, where English is usually quite prevalent.

In Kyoto

Ryokan (Japanese-style hotel) street

Ryokans are tatami-matted Japanese hotels which usually serve a set meal in your room for breakfast and dinner. The meals are beautifully presented and consist of many dishes in the kaiseki manner.

In Kyoto Station

Passbook (on an ATM)

I've never heard of anyone using a passbook at an ATM, it's probably for old people or something.

Monday, 11 August 2008

On Roppongi Doori

Buses are stopping

Not a bus stop per se, it's more a warning about the frequent stopping and starting of buses in this lane.

At Keyakizaka 2

Go slowly

In Roppongi Hills 2

傘ふり場、 ここで傘をお振りください
かさふりじょ、 ここでかさをおふりください
Umbrella shaking place, please shake your umbrella here.

On a rainy day in Japan, the sheer volume of people with umbrellas can create a flood inside a shopping area, so you have to shake your umbrella or put it in a plastic bag. And there are special places to shake it, and sometimes special electrostatic machines which attract the shaken water. Of course I never do it.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Outside my Apartment


At Keyakizaka


The second kanji is a little irregular here. Note the difference between the picture and the blog text. The horizontal line of 'big' is joined on to the eaves of the 'roof' to make a square.

At Toshimaen 6

Children 2 years and under are free.

Some strangeness here. The age counter is sometimes written as 歳 and sometimes as 才. The second one is obviously easier to read and write. Also, child is written as 子供 (こども) but talking about other people's kids sometimes warrants an お prefix, and also a slightly different kanji spelling, as here, お子様 (おこさま).

In Roppongi Station 2

Emergency phone

Pic is a bit bad, sorry.

Somewhere 5

40m先 通行止、 車両、 進入禁止
40mさき つうこうと(め)、 しゃりょう、 しんにゅうきんし
40m ahead, closed to traffic, vehicles, no entry

At Toshimaen 5

お願い、 柵の中には入らないでください
おねがい、 さくのなかにははいらないでください
Request, please don't enter inside the fence.

There is furigana on the kanji because it's a sign at a fun park, and kids have to be able to read it.

On the Train

お願い、 貫通路には立止まらないで下さい
おねがい、 かんつうろにはたちどまらないでください
Request, please don't stop and stand in the gangway (between the subway cars)

On the Way to Tochomae

This subway car has weakened air conditioning.

Ah, and it was on the way to Tochomae, on the Oedo line. Apparently some Japanese can't stand air conditioning. Maybe that's why women wear cardigans all Summer.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Downloads - Aug 08

To make it easier to enter into your SRS, I've uploaded the signs and text in various formats to Mediafire for anyone to download. There are 45 signs in this pack, all the ones on the site up until August the 4th.

Note: I had some problems with zip files scrambling the Japanese file names on the pictures, and unfortunately I must somehow make the pictures into one file to be able to upload them. So I've used 7z format, an open source format, so you might need to use the 7 Zip program which is also free and open source. Please comment if you have any problems.

Update: I've removed the Anki file as it doesn't work with the most recent version of Anki. Also it's really time consuming to create, and has little use. It's far better to import the Excel or text documents into your own Anki deck.

I've also removed the individual download links for each file, and have just linked to the folder on Mediafire. You can see all the files there.

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

Files are available here:

It's a (Japanese) Sign Aug 08

The Dec 08 sign pack is available here.

In Toshimaen Station 2

place for boarding vehicles

This one is in the subway so it means, 'this way to the tracks'. It can be used for taxis and such also.

At Toshimaen 4

In this plaza, without authorisation, these things are prohibited.

Unfortunately I had an episode and completely cut off the right part of the sign which I thought was unimportant. Anyway, ball games, setting up stalls, playing with pets and things like that are probably prohibited.

At Toshimaen 3

カン・ペットボトル、 もえるゴミ、 タバコを入れないでください
カン・ペットボトル、 もえるゴミ、 タバコをいれないでください
Cans・PET Bottles, burnable rubbish, please don't throw cigarettes in here.

It's common in Japan to separate rubbish into burnable, non-burnable and recyclables. Japan burns a lot of its rubbish because it doesn't have much space to bury it. It even ships some rubbish overseas, and also makes artificial islands out of it, like Odaiba in Tokyo. Paper and foodstuffs are burnable, non-recyclable plastic are unburnable.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

A Car Park in Roppongi

pay by the hour
car park

In an Elevator Somewhere

地上、 地下
ちじょう、 ちか
Ground floor, basement

American style conventions screw with me in Japan. I mean the ground floor is G, not 1. The first floor is 1, right?

At Toshimaen 2

Entry prohibited

Cars are prohibited entry in this case.

At Toshimaen

Coin operated locker

I didn't crop it so you could see the disgustingly named Pocari Sweat.

In Toshimaen Station

Elevator / lift

No noob is good noob.

In Roppongi Station

Kiosk/ stand

It means a place you can buy papers, cigarettes, drinks, snacks, etc.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Somewhere in Taito Ward

Entry with a bicycle is prohibited.
Because, for the people passing through it will be a bother, please stop.
Taito Ward Office ・ Ueno Police Station

Sorry it's really long, I wanted to put everything in. Just cut and paste what you think is useful.

At Ueno Park 9

お願い!! 商品は1本毎に取り出してください。
おねがい!! しょうひんはいっぽんごとにとりだしてください。
Request !! For every one bottle (that you buy) please take it out.

From one of the ubiquitous drink vending machines. They don't want you to buy ten bottles of milk tea all together and jam up the chute.

At Ueno Park 8

空飛ぶぞうさん、 おとな1枚、 こども1枚
そらとぶぞうさん、 おとないちまい、 こどもいちまい
Flying elephants, Adults 1 ticket, Children 1 ticket

In hindsight, this may not have been the most informative of signs.

Animals gain the -san suffix when children talk about them, or when adults talk to kids. It's like saying Mr. Elephant, kind of a personification that makes it sound cuter.

Somewhere 4

注意 ~ 戸に触れないことけがをする恐れがあります。
ちゅうい ~ とにふれないことけがをするおそれがあります。
Caution - Don't touch the door, we fear that you may get injured.

In Ueno Station

Tokyo Metro Lost Items Collection Handling Centre

If you lose something on the subway there is a very high probability that you will get it back.

Near Roppongi Hills 7

No crossing

In case the unbroken waist high barriers which line every footpath and every street didn't give you a clue as to Japan's jaywalking policy.

Near Roppongi Hills 6


Noob, noob, why don't you give me a call?

Near Roppongi Hills 5


This is dedicated to noobs everywhere.