Pet Peeve: Cardinal Directions on “You Are Here” Maps in Japan

Anyone who’s had the misfortune to see me navigate knows I have a terrible sense of direction. East/West/Left/Right… just can’t keep them straight.

So one thing that really drives me nuts is how free-and-easy they play with the cardinal directions on the “you are here” maps at train stations in Japan.

To my mind, north should pretty much always be “up” on a map, especially if it’s a map designed for people unfamiliar with an area (i.e. anyone using a “you are here” map). But in Japan, north can be any damn direction you can think of.

On this map, north is what would traditionally be northwest, thereby making all the streets unnecessarily slanted.

Here’s a map where north is what would traditionally be west.

And finally, here’s a map where north is pointing straight down (pardon the crappy blurry photo). What possible reason could you have to design a map like this? For the one where north is pointing left, maybe they had a landscape-orientated map but wanted to show more to the north and south. Still a bad idea, but I can at least I can imagine a justification. But to have north pointed towards literally the opposite direction you’d expect? What the hell Japan?