Japan Tip: Upside Down Maps

Stare at a dense Japanese map in a subway for a while and you may start to think everything is upside down.

You may be right. While I have seen this occasionally in some other Asian countries, Japan regularly orientates north in whichever way the mapmaker wanted. Usually it seems to be aligned with the direction a viewer of the map is facing.

In Japan always look for the direction of the N or 北. In this example from the Osaka subway, north is pointing down, as indicated in the upper right.

Osaka Map

6
Leave a Reply

avatar
5 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
5 Comment authors
RakSiamJamieRapid Travel ChaiJennifer C.dhammer53 Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
RakSiam
Guest
RakSiam

in the Taipei subway the local maps are oriented to the up is straight ahead no matter which cardinal direction that is

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

In England they always give driving directions by landmark/city. It would be “heading toward Warrington”, rather than north. maybe it’s because things don’t tend to be as grid oriented as they are here. Otherwise, I don’t know why it would be that people almost never use north, south, east, west when giving directions.

Jennifer C.
Guest
Jennifer C.

I really love the maps that are in direction of travel. Not sure if it’s gender-related, but I (female) cannot wrap my head around “North up” maps unless the scale is large (if I want to see Spain’s relation to Greenland, for example.)I realize I am in the minority, though this fascinating article delves deeper into the concept: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/magazine/29language-t.html?pagewanted=all

Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

@Jennifer C – very interesting and thanks for sharing the article. Certainly from my days living in China, while road signs have cardinal directions on them, telling someone to go north or whatever leads to a blank state, and asking for directions is always navigation by landmark and walking times, rather than, say, number of blocks.

Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

@dhammer53 – NYC one is great, still not used to the NYC online Weekender, though.

dhammer53
Guest
dhammer53

The New York subway map is a real map of NYC, with the subway system shown in actual locations. The Tokyo map, and others around the world, is just a station listing! Drives me crazy.