Support Tourism in Japan
from a Visual Design Perspective

EXPERIENCE JAPAN PICTOGRAMS are a novel set of visual symbols developed for people of all cultures and ages to enhance their tourism experience in Japan. These uniquely simple and easy-to-understand pictograms are designed under the key concept of “second encounter with Japan” to invite visitors to explore and enjoy Japan a little deeper than before.

The project was conceived and produced by Nippon Design Center with the mission to help as many tourists as possible by providing functionally and aesthetically well-designed pictograms as part of the basic infrastructure for tourism in Japan. For this reason, all the materials are made available for free use, including commercial uses. It is our heartfelt wish that the EXPERIENCE JAPAN PICTOGRAMS will evoke the interest of present and future visitors and enrich their tourism experience in Japan.


A Toolbox Filled with Japanese Stories

EXPERIENCE JAPAN PICTOGRAMS were developed as minimum tools to convey basic information about Japan, as well as its diverse aspects. Despite the deceivingly simple design, each symbol, for the most part, is provided with a text – a story that gives you a glimpse into the everyday life and history of Japan. We encourage you to read these stories to experience Japan before your visit or downloading the pictograms.



At 3,776 meters, Mt. Fuji is the highest independent mountain in Japan. With its graceful appearance, Mt. Fuji has enchanted and inspired not only Japanese but also such world-renowned artists as Van Gogh and Claude Monet. What fascinates people about Mt. Fuji? It cannot be the height, as there are many higher mountains around the globe. “Why is it shaped like that?” “What does it look like on the other side?” wonders a boy on a train whose eyes are riveted on Mt. Fuji, which may be the most imagination-evoking mountain in the world.



Another classical music/dance/theater of Japan with a history of over 400 years. All Kabuki characters, including women, are played by male actors. Kabuki is also one of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritages. Kabuki is regularly performed at Kabuki-za theatre in Ginza, Tokyo, as well as in certain venues in Kyoto and Osaka. The word “kabuki” is derived from a verb “kabuku” which means to “be in the forefront of fashion” or “go out of the ordinary.” The Super Kabuki II, which premiered in 2015, was based on a popular manga “One Piece” and was very successful. It was indeed on the cutting edge of fashion!



A form of Buddhist meditation, where a practitioner sits on a small pillow (“zafu”), keeping the spine straight. Zazen is becoming a popular activity among foreign tourists for its mindfulness effect. It is similar to but different from yoga or Pilates. With eyes half open, you sit, doing nothing but facing the self. “I’ve never imagined emptying the mind can be so hard... Actually, I’m getting hungry... What’s for dinner...” Whack! I got slapped on the shoulder by the priest with a wooden stick as if he could read my mind.


ラーメン [RĀMEN]

A Japanese noodle dish in hot soup that originates from China and has evolved on its own into large varieties with different types of noodles, toppings, and soup. Tens of thousands of rāmen restaurants are scattered across Japan. Rāmen is now a soul food for Japanese people, and there are even journalists specializing in writing articles about rāmen. “Let’s finish with rāmen!” is a common suggestion after drinking alcohol. Martin, who professes himself to be Japanese at heart, still has a hard time understanding this. “Why do they always have room for rāmen after drinking and eating so much?” he wonders.



A traditional martial art imbued with many ritual elements. It is a national sport of Japan, in which two rikishi (wrestlers) with magé (hair topknot) wearing nothing but mawashi (belt/loincloth) attempt to force each other out of a 4.55 m-diameter dohyō (circular ring) or to touch the ground. Today, quite a few rikishi are from overseas, and many sumo fans, including Paul McCartney, are non-Japanese. Most rikishi weigh over 100 kg, but smaller rikishi can outsmart those weighing twice as much. Taro, a small-figured boy, loves to watch sumō. He gets inspired and encouraged by watching rikishi whether they win or lose.



An urban park in Hiroshima built for people to pray for world peace near the epicenter of the a-bomb strike on August 6, 1945. The park contains the World Heritage Site “A-Bomb Dome (Genbaku Dome),” the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims, the Peace Memorial Museum, and other facilities that preserve and convey the tragic legacy. If you walk around the park, you will see thousands of orizuru (folded origami cranes) everywhere. Orizuru became a symbol of peace after the death of a girl who was exposed to radiation at the age of two and kept folding cranes in hopes of recovery. Even today, the park receives more than 10 million orizuru (weighing about 10 tons) annually from all over Japan and the world, four of which in 2016 were folded by the then U.S. President Obama – an epoch-making event to be remembered by history.


Usable on Paper, the Internet, Physical Signage, and More

EXPERIENCE JAPAN PICTOGRAMS were designed in pursuit of originality, universality, and flexibility to different media, such as paper, digital displays, and outdoor signage, on all of which they function well and aesthetically. Each pictogram can be used by reversing black and white or changing colors for a broad range of applications. The possibilities are infinite for you to explore.

Design Concept

The simple, aesthetic, and friendly design and shapes allow users to quickly capture and understand the essence of Japanese tourism.


Many interesting aspects of travelling in Japan are uniquely categorized into seven areas based on travelers’ experiences.


Aesthetic and universal forms are made of circles, squares, and other basic geometric shapes accentuated with curved lines and planes.


Each PICTOGRAM is designed to work functionally and aesthetically on many different media, including paper, digital displays, and outdoor signage, regardless of size and whether moving or stationary, for a broad range of applications.


You can reverse black and white or change colors of the PICTOGRAMS.
To ensure legibility, we recommend increasing the color contrast between the background and the PICTOGRAMS.


The color can be changed to any color of your choice.
Please experiment to find the best color combination such as cool, chic, cheerful, and organic that best suits your image and needs.


All PICTOGRAMS are designed to fit in a square grid, which we recommend using for a good layout.


If you are laying out more than one PICTOGRAM, we recommend you provide ample space between them for easy visibility.

Example of use: Tourist Map
Example of use: Signage
Example of use: Communication Apps
Example of use: Tourist Information Website
Example of use: Restaurant
Example of use: Hotel