Japanese How-Tos


One thing I admire about the Japanese is how easy it is to figure-out their illustrative instructions or specifications. When they illustrate something using figures, symbols, or images, words become unnecessary. This is why, for most Japanese products, figuring out how to assemble toys or opening a packaging the right way, is relatively easy by just following their illustrative instructions – even if one cannot read hiragana, katakana or kanji.

I’ve worked on Japanese projects for 3 years with no knowledge of their language. This limitation didn’t prevent me from creating reporting solutions with layout and data in accordance to their specification which was in the form of matrix and symbols. An indication of how good they were able to illustrate the details of the specs without the need for lengthy narrative. From my years of experience in information technology industry, I think Japanese specs are truly superior.

Even in non-complex uses, here is a clever instruction in Kyoto of how to properly leave garbage bags during designated yellow garbage bag collection days. A photograph of the exact spot including the tree, plus few symbols, you’ll then have a simple yet effectively clear instruction on where not to put the yellow garbage bags.



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