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Nihon Sankei - Miyajima1015 views日本三景 宮島 - Miyajima in Hiroshima Pref. is also one of the Scenic Trio of Japan (Nihon Sankei). It is an island in the Seto Inland Sea famous for Itsukushima Shrine which seems to float on the ocean. It is symbolized by a large, orange torii in the sea, Japan's most famous torii.
Shichi-go-san846 views七五三 - "Shichi-go-san" literally means seven-five-three. This is a Shinto-based, coming-of-age day on Nov. 15 for 7-year-old girls, 5-year-old boys, and 3-year-old girls. Although this is not a national holiday (like Coming-of-Age Day for adults in Jan.), many parents dress up their coming-of-age children in kimono and visit Shinto shrines for prayers around Nov. 15 (usually the closest weekend). It is also a busy time for portrait studios because many parents also dress formally and go to have family and child portraits taken before going to the shrine.

Place: A temporary photo studio in a local department store.
No Photography752 views撮影禁止 - The sign reads "Satsuei kinshi." "Satsuei" means to take photos, and "kinshi" means "prohibited." The "No photo" symbol also makes it clear.

On Japanese warning signs, the three most common words you will see are "kinshi" (禁止), "kiken" (危険), and "chui" (or "go-chui") (注意). They respectively mean "prohibited," "danger," and "beware of."

Place: World PC Expo in Makuhari Messe in Chiba.
Beware of Habu Snakes741 viewsハブに注意 - "Habu ni chūi." Finally we see the third most common word on warning signs: Chui, meaning "beware of" or "watch out for." Habu is a species of poisonous snake common in Okinawa where this picture was taken.

Place: Okinawa
No Photography647 views撮影禁止 - Another sign that reads (top to bottom) "Satsuei kinshi." "Satsuei" means to take photos, and "kinshi" means prohibited. At this Shinto shrine, you are not allowed to photograph inside the main shrine building housing the altar.

Place: A shrine in Kyoto.
Camera-tsuki keitai denwa (or keitai camera)618 viewsカメラ付き携帯電話 - "Camera-tsuki" means camera-equipped. "Keitai" is portable, and "denwa" is telephone. Ever since the camera phone was introduced in Japan in 2001, it has become hugely popular with the masses using them for snapshots and as you can see, self portraits.

Place: Takayama Festival, Gifu Pref.
DPE559 viewsDPE - Stands for Development, Printing, and Enlargement. We often find this at neighborhood photofinishers, but never at pro labs. The kanji after "DPE" is "uketsuke." The same characters as in the preceding picture.
Welcome!549 viewsようこそ - The red hiragana characters read "Yōkoso!" (Welcome!). The bottom characters say "Mother Bokujō e" (to Mother Farm).

(Note that all the Japanese kanji characters you see on signs will read either from top to bottom or from left to right.)

Place: Mother Farm, Chiba.
Costume Player Area, Tokyo Big Sight537 views会場 - The sign says "Cosplay Kaijō" meaning Costume Player area (where you can pose for photographers). They are allowed to use it from 12 noon to 4:00 pm. And they even provide a dressing room (closes at 5 pm) for these costumers who attract visitors to the comic book show held there. Taken at Tokyo Big Sight.
Nihon Sankei - Amanohashidate473 views日本三景 天橋立 - "Nihon Sankei" means the Scenic Trio of Japan. This is one of them, Amanohashidate in northern Kyoto. It is simply a sand bar with pine trees growing on it. Since it looks like a bridge (and actually serves as a bridge for pedestrians and bicycles), "Amanohashidate" means Bridge of Heaven. It has been the subject of poets and artists for centuries. This popular view can be had from a hilltop park nearby.

The Scenic Trio was thought to have originated in the 17th century when a Confucian scholar named 林春斎 traveled all over Japan and declared in writing that these three places were the best.

Place: Amanohashidate, Kyoto.
No Tripods468 views三脚使用禁止 - The bold characters read, "Sankyaku shiyō kinshi" meaning tripod use is prohibited. The sign further explains that since tripods hinder the view of other spectators, they are not allowed except in the press photographers' box.

The kanji characters for tripod consists of "san" for three (the 3 horizontal lines make it obvious), and "kyaku" which means legs.

Place: Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine (during the Yabusame Festival), Kamakura, Kanagawa Pref.
Nihon Sankei - Matsushima464 views日本三景 松島 - Matsushima is another member of the Scenic Trio of Japan (Nihon Sankei). They are pine-clad islands off the coast near Sendai, Miyagi Pref.

Place: Matsushima, Miyagi Pref.
Watch Out for Pickpockets!462 viewsスリに御用心 - Another human animal to watch out for. "Suri ni go-yōjin!" means watch out for pickpockets! "Suri" means pickpocket, and "go-yōjin" is like "chūi."

Place: Takayama Festival, Gifu Pref.
Beware of Flashers!443 viewsエッチマン注意! - Besides watching out for poisonous snakes, jellyfish, and wild monkeys as you saw in the previous images, there's one last wild animal to watch out for: the flasher. Apparently, this country neighborhood has had a flasher (a person who shows his genitals) so often that they put up this sign to warn female passers by.

The sign reads "H man chūi!" "H" is for "hentai" meaning pervert. "Man" is man, and you know what "chūi" means.

Place: Country road, northern Shiga Pref.
Danger, Keep Out428 views危険 立入禁止 - The kanji characters on the right say "kiken" meaning danger. The big characters on the left say "tachi-iri kinshi" meaning "entry prohibited." Remember the word "kiken" (危険). It is one of the three most common words on warning signs in Japan. Another one is "kinshi" (禁止). If you see it, be aware that something is prohibited.

Place: Ohara beach, Chiba.
Take Off Your Shoes405 views土足厳禁 - It says "Dosoku genkin" or footware prohibited. "Dosoku" literally means dirty feet, and "genkin" is like "kinshi," meaning prohibited. So we have to take off our footwear before going up the stairs to see the second floor of this museum.

In most places, it will be obvious that you have to take off your shoes before entering the castle, museum, temple, etc. At the entrance hall, you will see a shelf to store shoes and indoor slippers lined up on the floor.

Place: Azuchi, Shiga Pref.
No Smoking on Street404 views路上喫煙はやめましょう - This is "Rojō kitsuen wa yamemashō." It means please don't smoke while walking on the street.

Place: Street corner near a train station in Tokyo.
Tourist Information Center402 views観光案内所 - "Kankō Annai-sho." A string of kanji characters any tourist in Japan should remember. "Kankō" means sightseeing, "annai" means guide, and "sho" is place. You can find sightseeing maps and pamphlets, sometimes in English.

Place: Local museum in the countryside.
No Tripods and Monopods, unless...398 views三脚 一脚 - This sign says "Sankyaku, ikkyaku go-shiyō no kata wa, kyokasho (2,000 yen) ga hitsuyō desu." Since you learned the characters for "tripod" in the preceding image, you should also know the characters for monopod, called "ikkyaku," literally "one leg."

This sign is a warning and a money-making scheme. It says that you cannot use a tripod or monopod in this garden unless you pay 2,000 yen to obtain a permission slip.

Place: Heian Shrine Garden, Kyoto.
Beware of Jellyfish383 viewsハブクラゲに注意しよう! - "Habu kurage ni chūi shiyō." Beware of jellyfish. In Okinawa, "habu kurage" (Chiropsalmus quadrigatus) is a type of poisonous jellyfish whose venomous sting can cause death.

Place: Taketomi island, Okinawa.
Photo Booth378 views証明写真 - "Shōmei shashin." This is another very common photo term in Japan. You often see it at camera shops, photofinishers, and on these photo booths.

This booth is emblazoned with "Shōmei shashin" in red characters. It means ID photos (for resumes, driver's license application/renewal forms, and passports). Of course, people often use it for fun too.
Kasetsu studio370 views仮設スタジオ - Makeshift photo studios are set up in department stores, etc., during the prime portrait-taking seasons such as Shichi-go-san.

Place: A local department store.
Do not Enter348 views立入禁止 - Another "entry prohibited" sign or "tachi-iri kinshi" in red kanji characters. On the right, the characters read, "kankei-sha igai" meaning "unauthorized persons."

Place: Lake Biwa at Otsu, Shiga Pref.
Tenbōdai348 views展望台 - "Tenbōdai" means observation deck or lookout. It could be outdoors like this one, or on the top floor of a skyscraper. It implies a place that is up high where you can look down at the marvelous view.

Place: Hakodate, Hokkaido.
Shūgō shashin344 views集合写真 - "Shūgō shashin" means group photo, typically of a tourist group, school class, family gathering, etc. At famous places like Nikko above, you might see a photographer offering to photograph you in front of a famous view or building.

Place: Nikko, Tochigi Pref.
Beware of Wild Monkeys340 views野生の猿にご注意 - "Yasei no saru ni go-chūi." "Yasei" means wild, and "saru" is monkey. Japan has a substantial population of wild monkeys which can be very aggressive in foraging for food, especially at tourist spots. They often steal food (sweets, etc.) from tourist shops and commonly grab any paper or plastic bag that you are carrying. If you see wild monkeys, you should not feed them nor carry any bags with your hands.

The sign also says "We cannot be responsible for any accidents caused by wild monkeys."

Place: Mt. Hiei Driveway, Kyoto.
No Bicycle/Motorcycle Parking331 views駐輪禁止 - "Chūrin kinshi" in red characters mean two-wheeled vehicles cannot park here. In blue characters, it says "jitensha" (bicycles) and "ōtobai" (motorcycles and motor scooters).

Place: Street corner near a train station in Tokyo.
Do Not Enter329 viewsThis sign is similar to the preceding one. The middle column of characters has the word "kōji" (工事) which means construction. So the sign means, "Danger: No entry except for authorized construction workers."

Place: Mikuni-cho, Fukui Pref.
Danger! Do not Jump in River327 views危険!川へ飛び込まないでください。- The red characters read "Kiken!" (Danger!), and the black characters say "Kawa e tobi komanaide kudasai." "Kawa" is river, "tobi komi" is to jump or dive in.

This at the famous Dotonbori canal in central Osaka where it is a popular place for fanatical baseball fans to jump in whenever the local baseball team (Hanshin Tigers) wins big. The river is quite polluted and littered with trash (though recently cleaned up by the city). During the Soccer World Cup in 2002, several hundred people jumped in the water when the Japan team won a crucial game.

Place: Dotonbori, Osaka.
Hanami322 views花見 - "Hanami" literally means flower viewing, but it really means "partying under the cherry blossoms." Trash becomes a problem at the end of each day at major cherry blossom parks.

Place: A local park in Tokyo.
Train Station283 views駅 - The kanji characters read "Sannomiya Eki." The last character "eki" is what you will always see in train and subway station names.

Place: Sannomiya Station, Hyogo Pref. (10 days after the Great Hanshin Earthquake in Jan. 1995).
No Swimming275 views遊泳禁止 - By now you must be getting sick of seeing this word "kinshi." Well, it's certainly not a pleasant word since it limits your freedom. But it also serves to keep you safe. The kanji in red reads "yūei kinshi" meaning "swimming (and playing in the water) prohibited." Below in black reads, "Koko wa suieijō dewa arimasen." This is not a place for swimming.

Place: Lake Biwa at Otsu, Shiga Pref.
Under Construction - Do Not Enter271 views工事中 - Another variation of "Do not Enter." The red characters read "Kōji-chū shinnyū kinshi" meaning no entry during construction operations. The "No entry" traffic symbol is also a tell-tale sign. You usually see this symbol at the entrance of a one-way road (if you face the wrong direction).
No BBQ271 viewsバーベキューは禁止です - The characters in red say, "barbecue wa kinshi desu." Having a barbecue is prohibited.

Place: Ohara beach, Chiba Pref.
Portrait Studio248 views写真館 - "Shashinkan" is portrait studio. In Japan, they call it "photo studio" which in real English could mean a rental studio used by a pro photographer to photograph products, models, etc. Also notice the "55-min." photo lab next door.
Do not Go Beyond the Buoys248 viewsブイの外 危険 - It reads "Bui no soto kiken" which means "Dangerous to go beyond the buoy." The buoys in this case are the brightly-colored floating balls that mark the outer boundary of the safe swimming area. The water is usually too deep or the waves are too dangerous beyond this boundary. Almost all swimming beaches in Japan have some kind of outer boundary.

Place: Northern Lake Biwa, Shiga Pref.
Go Slow241 views徐行 - The sign on the right says "Jokō" meaning go slow (when boarding or disembarking from the ferry). You may see this at construction sites as well.

Place: Onomichi, Hiroshima Pref.
Under Construction237 views工事中 - The sign reads "Kōji-chū" meaning "under construction." You see this often at Japanese Web sites as well.

Place: Near Mt. Fugendake, Nagasaki Pref. (Note that the year stated in the image indicates the year the photo was first published, not the year when the picture was taken.)
Portrait Studio Services230 views写真館 - "Shashinkan" (the last three characters on the bottom line) is portrait studio. This sign is outside a portrait studio advertising its basic services.

From top to bottom:
Ki'nen shashin (記念写真): Literally "commemorative photo" which could be any kind of portrait--of family, children, etc., for any kind of occasion like coming-of-age day, graduation, etc.
Shutchō shashin (出張写真): Location shoot. A photographer can be dispatched to any location for any type of shoot such as wedding receptions, children's track meets, etc.
Shōmei shashin (証明写真): ID photos.
55-min. Photos226 viewsThe term "one-hour photo" was once popular, but it seems "55 minutes" has taken over. Below the number "55" is the kanji for "fun" or minutes. Below that is "shiage" meaning "finished in." Thhe red katakana characters on the right says "Digital camera prints."
Commemorative Photos221 views記念写真 - The top characters says "Ki'nen shashin." Ki'nen shashin is perhaps the most common photo term in Japan. Literally, it means "commemorative photo," but it has no real English equivalent.

It almost always show a person(s) you know and it's usually posed. They include family, friends, and yourself. It is a visual keepsake to record good memories. The picture answers the who, what, and where questions on a personal level such as travel photos, a meeting with the mayor, or at a friend's birthday party. It can be a casual snapshot or formal portrait.

This sign invites customers to have their photo taken by a pro photographer in front of this famous temple. The second line says "Ippun de dekimasu" meaning ready in 1 minute.
Disposable Cameras203 views写るんです - Next to a coffee machine on the left, this is a vending machine selling single-use cameras (or film with lens).

FujiFilm was the first to introduce these cameras (in 1986). Their single-use camera brand is called "Utsurundesu" (the red characters on the machine) meaning "it takes photos." It comes from the word "utsuru" which means capture (an image). It is also the first character in the word "shashin(写真).

Other film makers came up with their own cutsey names. These cameras, though, are on its way out as digital cameras and camera phones dominate.
Store Your Bags192 views一時預り所 - "Ichiji azukari-sho" means makeshift baggage storage place. This facility has been provided to accommodate the bags of the flood of visitors coming to see a big festival near this train station. The available coin-operated lockers are not enough. The "ichiji" can also mean one o'clock, but in this context, it means temporary.

The sign on the right says, "Ichinichi ikko 400 yen" and "Eigyō jikan 8:00 - 17:00." It costs 400 yen to store one bag, and the storage hours are as stated. The place requires you to come back for your stored bag by 5 pm. One advantage of the coin-operated lockers is that you don't need to come back for your bag by 5 pm.

Place: Shimo-Suwa Station, Nagano for the Onbashira Festival.
Public Toilet181 views公衆便所 - Pronounced "kōshū benjo." And "WC" means "water closet." This is outside in the park. The men's/ladies' room inside a department store, etc., is usually called "otearai" (お手洗い).

Place: Sumida River fireworks, Tokyo.
Fortune-telling Note165 viewsおみくじ - "Omikuji" is one way Shinto shrines make money. You pay a small fee and you receive a small paper note with a fortune inside.

Place: Heian Shrine, Kyoto
Self Printing155 viewsThe top characters says "Self Print" which means you can print photos yourself. On the red sign, it says that you can print from your digital camera or camera phone. However, when you look at all the little notes, there are so many things to keep in mind that you'd better ask the sales clerk to help you operate this machine. Before sticking in your memory card, better back up the data first.
Exit155 views出口 - The kanji characters beside the door says "Deguchi," meaning Exit. In this case, this door is only for exiting, not entering. (You enter the bus through the front door.) You will see "Deguchi" at train/subway stations as well.

Place: Bus stop in Tokyo.
You Are Here149 views現在地 - Sightseeing and parking map. The "P" stands for "parking lot." Toward the bottom, the red kanji characters say "Genzai-chi" (You are Here).

Place: Minakuchi Castle, Shiga Pref.
Photo Lab Counter147 views受付 - The last two characters on the large sign above is "uketsuke" meaning reception desk. This is a film processing counter inside a large camera store. The katakana characters before uketsuke say "Color Print." It's where to go to get your film processed.
Stone Buddha145 views石仏 - The characters read "Sekibutsu." "Seki" is stone, "butsu" is Buddha. This small stone buddha was one of several embedded on a series of stone steps leading to the castle tower.

Place: Azuchi Castle Ruins, Shiga Pref.
This Week's Recommendations135 views今週のおすすめ - The top string of characters say "Konshū no Osusume." "Konshū" is this week, and "osusume" is recommendation. You might see such a signboard in train stations. It publicizes major events and travel to those places. In this case, the Tenjin Matsuri (festival) in Osaka, the Hasu Matsuri (Lotus Flower Festival) in Kusatsu, Shiga Pref., and the Yosakoi Hyogo Festival in Kobe.

Place: A JR train station in the Kansai area.
Sightseeing Map130 views観光案内図 - You will often find a large sightseeing map right outside the train station. At the top, the last four kanji characters read "Kankō Annai-zu" meaning sightseeing guide map. Such maps are inexact and you cannot tell how far things are. The first three characters is the name of the city (Himi-shi).

Place: Himi, Toyama Pref.
Photo Services127 viewsSign outside a portrait studio and camera shop.
From top to bottom:
1st line from top (red characters): Irrelevant (ignore it)
2nd line: Studio satsuei (portraits taken in the studio) and Shōmei shashin (ID photos).
3rd line: Irrelevant
4th line: Camera, yōhin (supplies), and album
5th line: Digital eizō shori (Digital-editing services)
Bay Cruise Map123 views伊根湾めぐり案内図 - The large white kanji characters at the upper left say "Ine-wan Meguri Annai-zu" or Ine Bay Cruise Guide map. When the word "meguri" follows the word for bay (wan) or any body of water, it means sightseeing boat cruise. This map, near the pier, shows the route of the sightseeing boat.

Place: Ine (Tango Peninsula), Kyoto.
Photo Paper122 views印画紙 - Pronounced "ingashi," it means photo paper, the kind you use in the darkroom. This is an ad from a camera magazine published in 1940. It advertises Sakura Photo Paper. The company was called Konishiroku (see bottom characters), the forerunner of Konica.
Eight Scenic Views of Omi122 views近江八景 - This sign post indicates that this place is a Scenic Spot ("Meishō" in the red characters). The scenic spot is one of the Eight Scenic Views of Ōmi or "Ōmi Hakkei." And this Ōmi Hakkei is Night Rain at Karasaki.

Ōmi (also spelled Ohmi) is the former name of Shiga Pref. During Japan's feudal era, there were a few hundred fiefs each having a name. These fiefs were eventually consolidated into the current 47 prefectures. Thus, each prefecture consists of one or more old feudal domains. The names of these old fiefs are commonly used in present-day place names within the prefecture.

Famed woodblock artist Hiroshige visited Ōmi and drew these eight scenic places immortalizing the term "Ōmi Hakkei," an idea that came from a lake in China. There are other similar names such as "A Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji" made famous by woodblock print artists.

Place: Karasaki at Lake Biwa, Shiga Pref.
Swimming Beach106 views海水浴場 - The sign on the left reads "Kaisui Yokujō." "Kaisui" literally means ocean water, and "yokujō" is bathing place.

Place: Kujukuri beach, Chiba Pref.
Bus Stop104 viewsバス - At the top, the red katakana characters at the top says "basu" or bus. The word "noriba" (のりば)or "stop" is often appended to "bus." Below "Basu" is the name of the bus stop (Sumoto I.C.). "I.C." stands for "interchange" (on an expressway). Below that is the name of the bus companies stopping there (Tokushima Bus and Awaji Kōtsū).

Place: Awaji island, Hyogo Pref.
Commemorative Photo Sign103 viewsMt. Aso in Kumamoto Pref. This is a signboard graciously provided for "ki'nen shashin." You can stand behind this sign which says "Commemoration of Climbing Aso" with the date chalked in below it.
Quasi-National Park97 views国定公園 - On this sign post, the smaller characters on the right read "Noto Hant? Kokutei K?en." "Noto Hantō" means Noto Peninsula, and "Kokutei Kōen" means Quasi-National Park. The word "hantō" literally means half island.

A quasi-national park is like a second-tier national park. The top-ranking national parks called "Kokuritsu Kōen" are defined to be natural areas of beauty rated as world-class. Meanwhile, the quasi-national park is not regarded as "world-class," but it is still beautiful enough to be designated as a national park. The large characters on the left say "Sekinohana," the name of this scenic coast.

There are over 50 quasi-national parks in Japan. In addition, there are prefectural parks designated by the local governor. These are areas of natural beauty recognized by the prefecture, but are not as magnificent as national and quasi-national parks.

Place: Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa Pref.
Photo Gallery94 viewsフォトギャラリー - This is obviously "photo gallery." Above it is "Hana to Midori"(花と緑)meaning flowers and greenery. This was at the Lake Hamana Pacific Flora expo in 2004.
Emergency Refuge Area94 views指定避難所 - What might look like another sightseeing map is actually a guide to the nearest emergency refuge area. It is usually a large park, and it is mainly for major earthquakes. The kanji characters at the top read "shitei hi'nan-jo" or designated evacuation area. The name of the park (Nishi Kōen) is further to the right.

Place: Sendai, Miyagi Pref.
Cherry Blossom Festival94 views桜まつり - In big black characters is "Sakura Matsuri." "Sakura," of course, means cherry blossoms, and "matsuri" is festival. Above that in small characters is "Sumida Kōen" (Sumida Park) which is famous for cherry blossoms in Tokyo.

Place: Sumida Park, Tokyo
Lake Mashu94 views湖 - The large characters in the middle is "Mashū-ko" or Lake Mashū. The third character "ko" means lake. Names of lakes almost always ends with this word. Lake Mashū, one of the cleanest and most transparent lakes in Japan, is within a national park called "Akan Kokuritsu Kōen" as indicated by the small characters at the top.

Place: Lake Mashū, Hokkaido
Thank You93 viewsIn big, red hiragana characters at the top is "Arigato gozaimashita." If you cannot even read this, it means you are totally illiterate in Japan. This big gate faces the pier where passengers get off the ferry and head for the train station right beyond this gate.

Place: Hama-Kanaya Station, Chiba Pref.
Cape93 views岬 - Cape is "misaki" in Japanese. The sign says "Sukoton Misaki," or Cape Sukoton.

Place: Rebun island, Hokkaido
Castle92 views城 - "Shiro" (or oshiro) means castle, but when it is appended to a name of a castle, it is pronounced "jō." Such as Kaminoyama-jō in the above example.

Also, if you're Okinawan, you would be familiar with this kanji because many Okinawan names have it. For example, Oshiro, Miyashiro, Kaneshiro, etc. The kanji can also be pronounced "gi" as in Miyagi (think Karate Kid movie).

Place: Kaminoyama Castle, Yamagata Pref.
Bicycles and Motor Scooters89 views自転車/原付 - The left kanji characters (top to bottom) say "jitensha" (bicycles). On the right, it says "gentsuki" which is short for "gendōki-tsuki jitensha" (原動機付き自転車)or motor scooters.

Place: Island in the Seto Inland Sea.
Peace89 views平和 - "Heiwa" is another word you will hear often, especially in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Okinawa. The first two characters on the left read "Heiwa" followed by "ishiji" (cornerstone). (Ishiji is normally pronounced "ishizue," but they call it "ishiji" here.)

Place: Cornerstone of Peace, Okinawa. This is a memorial park with many black slabs of stone inscribed with the names of the 200,000 people (all nationalities) who died during the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.
Cycling Road86 viewsサイクリング ロード - Above the bicycle symbol in green, it reads "Cycling Road." (Above that is "Shimanami Kaid?.") It is obvious that this is a path for bicycles.

Place: Island in the Seto Inland Sea. The Shimanami Kaidō is a roadway connecting several bridges spanning across a few islands in the Seto Inland Sea from Imabari in Ehime Pref., Shikoku to Onomichi in Hiroshima.
Castle Ruins81 views城跡 - This is "jōseki," a kanji compound using "shiro" (see preceding image). The title's bottom two characters is "jōseki" meaning castle ruins. The top two characters is "Koyama," the name of this particular castle.

Place: Koyama Castle, Shizuoka Pref.
National Park80 views国立公園 - As in many countries, Japan has areas of natural beauty designated as national parks called "Kokuritsu Kōen" (the last four characters on the sign's top line). The entire top line of characters reads, "Seto Naikai Kokuritsu Kōen." Seto Naikai is the Seto Inland Sea between Shikoku and Honshū islands. It is one of the first three areas in Japan to be designated as a national park in 1934. There are over 25 national parks in Japan. (See list at: http://www.env.go.jp/en/jeg/nps/pamph/index.html).

In the middle line (left to right), are two small characters "Meishō" or "Scenic Spot." The large characters is the place name, Tomonoura. Below this in small characters is Fukuyama-shi, the name of the city.

Place: Tomonoura (Fukuyama), Hiroshima Pref.
International73 views国際 - Another word all overseas tourists in Japan should know: "Kokusai," the first two large, white characters on the left. It means international. It is followed by "kōryū" meaning exchange or interchange, and "tsudoi" or event.

Place: Tokyo
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