Neighborhood Street Signs
Continuing the “Street Walk” series following the building construction photos, I photographed a number of street signs that are quite common in Tokyo. They have a uniquely Japanese feeling to them. When you walk past them everyday they become commonplace.
These street signs can be a great way for the beginner to learn Kanji since every time you pass them they can serve as a memory jog.
The sign above is a common one in Tokyo showing that the road is a designated travel path for school children. You can see Shibuya-ku (渋谷区) displayed at the bottom of the sign.
The following sign pasted to the front of a building when they are looking for new tenants is also a common site. Whilst internet advertising for offices and apartments has become very popular and of course real estate agents have full lists at their office, a sign like this can really catch the attention of passers by who might just be interested in renting at that location.
The red writing says “looking for tenant”. The light blue writing is the name of the real estate company, with the dark blue writing saying “please feel free to contact the agent for property details”
This is a fairly typical, although graffiti-ed, fire extinguisher box. You can see on the top it even has it written in English, just in case a foreigner needs to put out a fire :)
This sign is very common for most apartment buildings. When putting out the rubbish you have to separtate burnable from non-burnable and then there are special days for large rubbish and other items. This sign has quite a bit of English on it, but you can expect many of them to be totally in Japanese. This sign provides a good teaching aid since it has both English and Japanese together.
When carrying out road or building construction, there are normally a set number of signs that you will see around the area. One is the following sign, apologizing for any inconvenience that might be caused during the construction work.
To make sure you don’t try to enter the site this one says “No entry”
A very well known sign at construction sites is the following one, 安全第一, “Safety First”. It’s history is said to go back to the early 1900’s when US Steel coined the phrase “safety first”, and was brought to Japan around 1913, becoming a national slogan for progress.
Moving away from construction signs, this picture of a dog tells people that the area is an official safe house area for children. This system was set up for the community to keep an eye out for suspicious activity and assist children if they are in trouble. Note the dog is wearing a sash that says his name is Hachiko-kun.
Here is a quick link to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Departments website explaining how you can get involved in the safe house area for children. (Japanese language only)
I found this sign in a local park (the mens toilet was not meant to be part of the photo). The sign is explaining the rainwater storage barrel that is for times of natural disaster.
Looking at the sign closely, you can see the kanji text has been supplemented with furigana, written on top of the Kanji. Presumably this is so that young children can also read the full text. The explanation says that you can use the water for flowers and park cleaning as well as in disaster times such as earthquakes.
Noticeboards for the local area are common on the street. this one is for Nanpeidai. The notices look fairly old. Note the 2nd poster from the left where the police are still appealing for anyone who knows the whereabouts of the Aum Shinrikyo members.
Having looked at a number of closeups it is worth seeing the street as a whole. Here is a street with some construction work happening on the right. How many signs can you see in this picture? Every telegraph post seems to have some form of advertising on it.
Look at the policebox, Koban, sign in this photo. It is in the top of the shot in green. The sign it written only in romaji.
Many road signs in Tokyo are written in romaji as well as Kanji. Here is a typical road sign.
A look at street signage would not be complete without seeing a few, or a lot, of posters for politicians. It seems like there is always some sort of local or Prefectural or National election going on and the posters are everywhere.
How many different signs do you pass on the street everyday and not really notice?