Japan to Remove Buddhist Swastikas From Maps Because Tourists Think It’s the Nazi Symbol
By Editorial Staff
January 22, 2016
The Western and Eastern cultures don’t always quite see things eye to eye.
Japan is making the move to remove swastikas from their tourist maps because it is confusing Western visitors who are mistaking them for Nazi symbols, according to the Telegraph.
The ancient Sanskrit symbols have been used to signify temples long before the rise of the Nazi regime. However, they are now going to be erased from Japanese maps after a survey revealed most Western tourists associate it with Nazis rather than with Buddhism.
In 1920, Adolf Hitler created a red flag with a white circle and black swastika that would later be used to represent his regime. He wrote in his autobiography “Mein Kampf” that the flag was symbolic of “the victory of Aryan man.”
As a result, Japan’s tourism officials have announced a move to update their maps and redesign the icon to denote religious temples. The swastika will be replaced with a more recognizable image of a temple in the form of a three-tiered pagoda.
The plans have stirred a commotion among those in Japan who are unhappy about the change. One Japanese academic argued that tourists should be more educated about the history of countries they decide to visit. Makoto Watanabe, a communications expert at Hokkaido Bunkyo University, expressed his disapproval to the Telegraph:
“We have been using this symbol for thousands of years before it was incorporated into the Nazi flag, so I believe it would be better for us to keep it on our maps and ask others to understand its true meaning.
“I think it would serve a good purpose if people from abroad see the symbol, ask what it means and where it originated.
“That might help to get rid of some of the negative impressions associated with the ‘manji.’ ”
The manji, as the symbol is referred to in Japanese, is not the only icon causing confusion for Western visitors. The survey indicated that foreigners also get mixed up with the letter H. While the letter stands for hotels in Japan, it is often used as a signifier for hospitals on maps in other parts of the world.
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