In the summer of 2015 Sam Gullam was invited to Tokyo to discuss the city's approach to pedestrian wayfinding.
Invited by one of Japan's leading providers of street furniture, Kotobuki, Sam gave a series of presentations to government officials, stakeholders and designers relating to how Tokyo might approach improved wayfinding in the lead up to the 2020 Olympics.
Kicking off with an event hosted by JDP (Japanese institute of Design Promotion) the presentations titled 'Learning from Legible London' explored the many areas of similarity between London and Tokyo in their size and nature and the challenges faced in being a host city.
As well as understanding the benefits that Legible London has delivered, the city and its stakeholders were keen to understand the structure of ownership of such a wide reaching system and how stakeholders can form the partnerships required to deliver a city wide scheme.
Critically the presentations and workshops also explored the differences between the two cities and how simply transferring the outcomes of the Legible London system would be unlikely to provide the best solution for Tokyo.
The desired growth in the still emerging tourist and visitor economy coupled with a difference in challenges of language, addressing systems, topography, public transport ownership and transport information systems all determine that context of both time and place may demand alternative approaches.
The presentations also prompted discussion as to the part that a coordinated design approach to wayfinding and on street transit infrastructure can play in city identity; and how that by adopting a facsimile of approaches and designs from elsewhere there is the danger of missing an important opportunity to contribute to an enhanced sense of place.