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I downloaded OpenStreetMap from for Tokyo, that I am going to visit in 2 months. The map (at least on my computer) shows the street names etc. written with Latin alphabet, but about half of them are showing the Chinese reading! For example, instead of Akasaka Gyoen it is showing Chibanyuyuan, instead of Tokyo in the names of colleges etc. it is showing Dongjing. I'd prefer to see the Chinese characters or the Japanese reading instead of pinyin - at least I could match them to the street signs.

asked 09 Jun '13, 18:41

Mike%20Kizhe's gravatar image

Mike Kizhe
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edited 10 Jun '13, 14:48

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦


Where did you download "Open Street Map for Tokyo"? Please add the URL.

(09 Jun '13, 20:22) aseerel4c26 ♦

Oh, and the positions would also be useful. Is this one of the places you mention?

(10 Jun '13, 00:50) aseerel4c26 ♦

Yes, that was one of the places I mentioned. I downloaded the maps from In the link you provided everything looks fine it shows Kanji and Latin alphabet reading. In the maps I downloaded it shows Chinese pronunciations instead of Kanji (Chinese characters) and that was throwing me off; I guess I just need to download the map from a different site. I just need to figure out how to download small portions of the world map from and transfer them to my handheld.

(10 Jun '13, 02:29) Mike Kizhe

You will not be able to "download small portions of the world map from and transfer them to my handheld" if you mean a Garmin GPS device (at least without further processing/map making by yourself). See my answer below how to get Garmin maps.

(10 Jun '13, 18:11) aseerel4c26 ♦

I've also asked the question on the mkgmap development list:

(11 Jun '13, 13:39) SomeoneElse ♦

The "赤坂御苑(Akasaka Gyoen)" has a different name in the map you downloaded (from the discussion in the comments above)? Well, then it seems the Garmin map you downloaded converts chinese characters to pinyin ("Chibanyuyuan"). The pinyin does not seem to be in the OSM data.

So, please try another Garmin map (there are many Garmin maps built using OSM data). See for more info: wiki: OSM_Map_On_Garmin/Download. Please mention here if you had success and with which map/URL.

(reacting on @Mike Kizhe's comment below) Well, it ''may'' be that many/all Garmin maps transcribe the kanjis because Garmin devices may not be able to display anything except latin letters (look here). You could look in the OSM data with the data browser (similar to my link to "Akasaka Gyoen" above) to see how (in which script) the names are entered in our database.

The way different scripts are entered (in parentheses) into our data in the example "赤坂御苑(Akasaka Gyoen)" is the way the mappers have done it. I think that is not really correct because the name is duplicated. Here is another example which has two name tags name = 東電総合グランド and name:ja_rm = Tōden Sōgō Ground - one for kanji and on for latin, which is in my opinion more correct (because it allows the map maker to choose which script he likes to display), but that may be one which has only chinese transcribtion on your Garmin map. That is because the people who make the Garmin maps may only use the "name" tag. I would suggest to try a Garmin map which is available only for Japan (not for the whole world), it may have special processing rules. And, in fact, OSM_Map_On_Garmin/Download#Asia lists three maps only available for Japan with special notes on Kanji in the right column - try them.

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answered 10 Jun '13, 14:45

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦
accept rate: 18%

edited 11 Jun '13, 13:25


I downloaded and installed Velomap from and again I see in MapSource Chinese reading and next to it Japanese in parenthesis: Shibuiguqu (Shibuya), Xinsuqu (Shinjuku), but half of the names don't have Japanese even in parenthesis. I transferred the maps to handheld Garmin Dakota 20 and it's the same, all kanji are transcribed in Chinese pinyin. I also tried "Generic Routable testing new style: from; it has less Chinese, but still a lot.

(11 Jun '13, 12:05) Mike Kizhe

@Mike Kizhe: thanks for you comment (that will be helpful for others with the same proble), I have answered/updated my answer above.

(11 Jun '13, 13:26) aseerel4c26 ♦

It may happen that some streets in Japan were just missing names, and that Chinese names have been given to them (without indicating the Japanese). If you know were it is, look at "name" tags on these objects : if they contain Chinese, rename the tag as "name:zh" and enter a new tag "name" for the Japanese name.

Note that objects that don't have "name" but only "name:ja" don't have any default name, and applications will show the Japanese name ONLY if Japanese is explicitly set by these applications or renderers to show Japanese in preference to the generic "name" name which may be in any (unspecified) language.

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answered 09 Jun '13, 22:17

Verdy_p's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 10 Jun '13, 11:46

SimonPoole's gravatar image

SimonPoole ♦

Verdy-p Thank you for the answer, but it's a quite bit over my head :) I am just a user and not a programmer; all I know is "I downloaded a map of Tokyo and it is not showing the place names in Chinese rather than Japanese", tags, objects are worse than Greek (or Chinese) to me :)

(10 Jun '13, 00:20) Mike Kizhe

My anwer did not involve any programmation. Do you know that OSM is user-contributed and that you can contribute too, instead of just viewing maps or downloading them on some device? Read the OSM tutorial to know the basic concept like "tags". This does not require you any programmation.

(10 Jun '13, 05:13) Verdy_p

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question asked: 09 Jun '13, 18:41

question was seen: 8,655 times

last updated: 11 Jun '13, 13:39

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum