The national government is moving forward with changes to road intersection signs both in Japanese and English in order to more clearly indicate to tourists when they are near sightseeing spots.
According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, it has already decided to change or newly set up signs at 45 intersections. As of Oct. 13, work was finished at 30 of these locations. The ministry intends to change or set up yet more signs in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and an increase in foreign tourists.
The changes made so far are to national road intersections located near tourist sites or scenic areas. The sign by the former site of Shuseikan, a group of factories for the Edo period Satsuma Han domain and one of the UNESCO World Heritage "Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution" has been changed from "Iso Koban," referring to a police box there, to "Shuseikan." The sign for an intersection by Hokkaido's main recreational street in Sapporo was changed from "South4West3 South4West4," referring to zones of the city, to "Susukino," the name of the district.
Regarding the reason for the changes, a spokesperson for the ministry said, "Many tourists check road signs to make sure where they are. We aim to make the signs easier to understand" by showing the names of nearby sightseeing locations. The ministry is putting information about the updated signs on its website to help map and car navigation system makers to update their systems.
The ministry will talk with prefectural governments as it decides on which additional signs to change. The planning department of the ministry's Road Bureau says, "We will work to have intersections on roads managed by local municipalities also changed."