Life Abroad

Symbols & Signs

Most of us go through our daily lives without noticing how many signs and symbols we use. When you move to another country, it can be a shock realizing you suddenly don't know what the signs and symbols around you mean.

Look though this section to help you understand the symbols you find on the tags in your clothing for laundering instructions, and the meaning of road signs to keep you safe.

Laundry Symbols Road Signs
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Japanese Laundry Symbols & Road Signs

Laundry Symbols

Symbols and numbers are used to describe the suggested laundering method for articles of clothing on the tag. These are the five basic laundry symbols. They will have other elements added to convey further meaning below.

The symbols were updated in December, 2016, so the previous version is included for your reference.

Base Symbol Meaning
signs_symbols/laundry Machine-wash
bleach Bleach
dry Tumble Dry
iron Iron
cleaning Dry Clean


The following are common combinations of base symbols and modifiers. Old symbols are included for your reference.

- Washing -

Base Symbol Meaning Note
No line Regular wash
weak Gentle wash
weaker Gentler wash or hand wash More lines = gentler wash
washhand Hand wash in water up to 40 degrees Celsius New Symbol
handwash Hand wash in water up to the degrees marked on symbol Old Symbol
no wash Do not machine wash New Symbol
no washable with water Do not machine wash Old Symbol
bleach Chlorine bleach, Oxygen bleach OK
bleach2 Oxygen bleach OK
NO chlorine bleach
bleach3 No bleach of any kind
bleachold Chlorine bleach OK Old Symbol
bleachold2 NO chlorine bleach Old Symbol
washable Machine wash in maximum water temperature displayed Old Symbol
washable2 Machine wash in maximum water temperature displayed New Symbol

- Drying -

Base Symbol Meaning Note
dryer1 Tumble dry up to 80-degree heat. Marked 強 in domestic clothes dryers.
dryer2 Tumble dry up to 60-degree heat. Marked 弱 in domestic clothes dryers.
dryer3 Do NOT tumble dry.
dry1 Line dry/hang dry New Symbol
dry1old Line dry/hang dry Old Symbol
dry2 Line dry/hang dry in the shade New Symbol
dry2old Line dry/hang dry in the shade Old Symbol
dry3 Lay flat to dry New Symbol
dry3old Lay flat to dry Old Symbol
dry4 Lay flat to dry in the shade New Symbol
dry4old Lay flat to dry in the shade Old Symbol

- Ironing -

Base Symbol Meaning Note
iron1 Iron up to 200 degrees (high) New Symbol
iron1old Iron between 180 and 210 degrees Old Symbol
iron2 Iron up to 150 degrees (medium) New Symbol
iron2old Iron between 140 and 160 degrees (medium) Old Symbol
iron3 Iron up to 110 degrees (low) New Symbol
iron3old Iron between 80 and 120 degrees (low) Old Symbol
iron4 Do NOT iron New Symbol
iron4old Do NOT iron Old Symbol

- Dry clean ONLY -

Base Symbol Meaning Note
drycleaning1 Perchloroethylene and Petroleum-based solvent dry cleaning New Symbol
drycleaning1old Perchloroethylene and Petroleum-based solvent dry cleaning Old Symbol
drycleaning2 Perchloroethylene and Petroleum-based solvent SOFT dry cleaning New Symbol
drycleaning3 Petroleum-based solvent dry cleaning New Symbol
drycleaning2old Petroleum-based solvent dry cleaning Old Symbol
drycleaning4 Petroleum-based solvent SOFT dry cleaning New Symbol
drycleaning5 Do NOT dry clean New Symbol
Old Symbol Do NOT dry clean Old Symbol

Japanese Road Signs

Road Signs

The following road signs are the most common that you will come across. Please take note of them whether you drive or not in order to be safe and follow the law.

Base Symbol Meaning
tukodome Road closed to all
sharyotukodome Road closed to vehicles
shinnyukinshi No entry  Cars and motorcycles
jitenshakinshi No bicycles
jitenshaoyobihokousha Bicycles and pedestrians only
hokoushasenyou Pedestrians only
jokou Slow
tomre Stop
hokoushatuukoudome Road closed to pedestrians
oudankinshi No pedestrian crossing
Railroad crossing ahead
gakkouari School Zone
koujichuu Construction ahead
oudanhodou Crosswalk ahead
oudanhodou2 School Crossing
from From this point
to Up to this point

- Vocabulary-

Japanese Romaji English
行き止まり ikidomari Dead end
通行止め tsuukoudome Road closed to all
徐行 jokou Slow
止まれ tomare stop
横断禁止 oudankinshi No crossing

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