The first time I went to Tokyo alone, I got lost within the first five minutes of arriving at Shinjuku Station, unable to comprehend why there were so many transfers to different lines going in different directions. Without mobile data on my phone, I was basically one of the ‘internet-less lost gaijin’ crippled by the lack of Google Maps who ended up befriending the station master at every transfer station because, without them, I would probably have had to spend the night hanging out with the buskers on the streets.
The maps in Japanese subway stations are not only confusing, they also look like multi-colored spaghetti or weird roller coasters, and I can clearly recall thinking how nice it would be to have a better-looking representation of the city’s train lines. Thankfully, it looks like South Korean design company Zero per Zero has fulfilled my wish with their subway map designs, which are becoming a hot topic on Reddit.
Zero per Zero has turned the subway systems of major cities in the world into beautiful works of functional art. From New York City and Paris to the entire European railway system, they have turned maps into trendy artworks that are not only easy to read but super easy on the eye. For Japan, they have produced maps for Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido’s Sapporo.
▼ The Sapporo subway map arranged into the shape of a snowflake – how cute!
While the complex Tokyo map might not so useful when you are panicking on the wrong platform, it would certainly look fabulous in on your bedroom wall next to all the Polaroids you’ve pinned on it to show off your well-traveled twenties. Some Reddit users have also reached a similar conclusion:
“I’ve got it hanging on my wall. Its a fantastic piece of art. Not so great for actual navigation”
“I have this map framed and its hanging on my wall right now! I always liked the aesthetics of the rail maps, so was thrilled when I found this poster.”
“This map makes me feel good. ”
“Would love it if there was a high res version of this. It’d make a nice desktop wallpaper. :]”
The artistic maps are in fact available in high resolution, and you can purchase them as posters at US$20 per piece from the company’s online store. The foldable functional versions are available in three different sizes at $10 and $5 as well.
I’m not sure if carrying this adorable Tokyo Subway map is going to keep me from getting lost during my next visit, but at least when I’m am I can feel good about looking at the map.
▼ A poster of Osaka’s subway map
▼ Their Tokyo train map looks like a giant eye!