A map does not mean “only a map”, only a picture that visualizes location of objects on the earth. For me, a map means everything; everything related to geospatial information and its related attribute data. A map is a guidance that helps us to understand a place and to be well oriented geospatially.

Every time I go to new places, I always try to find a map of the place beforehand, by buying a printed map if it is available in shops, or by searching digital maps on the internet as well as visit google maps website. Few years ago, before visiting Melbourne, I bought a map of Melbourne city and its surrounding areas in Jakarta. As well as when I visited Kuala Lumpur, I tried to look for a map of Kuala Lumpur city soon after I arrived in the city. From the maps, I could get many information about the city and explore the city well.

However, having a map in hand does not always mean that you will be well oriented in a new city; at least this is true for me. Until more than six weeks since my arrival in Fukuoka City, Japan, with a map of Fukuoka City in hand, yet I could not point important places of the city on the map, even my own house (maybe it sounds ridiculous because I am a Geodetic Engineering graduates). Why? Because the language that is used for composing the maps is Japanese language with Kanji letters, the thing that I do not understand.

From this instance, I then realized that in toponimy (i.e. the map lettering and naming systems) one of the key factors in order maps are readable and understandable is language. The Fukuoka City map maybe toponimically is good for Japanese people or non Japanese people who can read Kanji letters and understand Japanese language. On the other hand, it can be said that the map is toponimically not appropriate for non Japanese people like me. For a big city like Fukuoka, with so many foreigners reside in the city, it sounds ridiculous to notice that there are no (or very difficult to find) non Japanese language based city maps. Since almost all public facilities, public transport, street names, and only very few number of Fukuoka City people who can speak English, it is most likely for new foreigners who are not be able to read Kanji Letters and Japanese Language to experience lost in the Fukuoka City of JAPAN.