Thursday, 4 August 2011

Does North really have to be the top?

When I started living in London, I really didn't have any idea why you need to know which direction is the North, South etc., why tube stations have to indicate 'Southbound', 'Northbound' instead of name of the destination.

In Japan, we rarely use North or South to indicate directions to get somewhere. Usually it should be which station, and when you come out from the station, right or left and 3rd corner at convenient store right and so on. You really don't have to know where is the North.

In Japan even maps are not necessarily pointing the North. If you see a map on a wall around a station, for example, it is most likely pointing the direction you stand rather than North, which is very confusing for non-Japanese.

So, it is not only me but quite often, Japanese people do turn around a map to point the direction you stand (otherwise you have to turn to face the North all the time). And this is one of those things Westerners do not understand at all!

When I get lost somewhere in UK with map in my hand and if I ask English people for direction, then they always say:

You got lost because you turn the map in that strange way!

Not really! OK, I got lost but it is not because I turn the map in 'your' strange way. It is perfectly reasonable for me...

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