Sushi, geisha, sumo – everyone knows at least a few famous things from Japan. But how many people actually know what the country looks like on a map?

Our Japanese writer asked six of his foreign friends with an interest in Japan to draw a map of the country to see just how good their knowledge of the country was. The following collection of decidedly poopy-looking doodles is what he got back.

Drawing a map of any foreign country without peeking at an atlas or quickly tapping the country’s name into Google can be tricky at the best of times, and so our writer doubted whether his friends–who hail from Hong Kong, America, Thailand, England, Denmark and Vietnam–would be able to draw a map of Japan accurately.

The main problem with the drawings our writer received from his friends is that none of them seemed to be aware that Japan is actually made up of four distinct islands (as well as thousands more tiny ones and Okinawa in the far south). There’s Hokkaido in the north, then the largest and most popular island Honshu, then Shikoku and Kyushu in the south.

For reference, here’s what Japan actually looks like:

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 11.15.45 AMGoogle Maps

Now let’s take a look at our foreign doodlers’ efforts!

First up is Kalvin from Hong Kong. Japanese cars and electronics are really popular in Hong Kong, and it’s not actually that far away, so we had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, what we got back was basically a long, turd-shaped thing that, without “JAPAN” written down its length, we would never recognized.


The next drawing is from R-san, an American who simply adores Dragon Ball. R’s a pretty smart guy, so  we were expecting something special but…we got another weird sausage shape! And this time it came with some mysterious dots, like a fly had stepped in an ink pot then hopped all over this work of art.


The below drawing is from P-san, who hails from Thailand. Although Hokkaido and Honshu are shown as connected, and there’s a weird fish-tail thing going on at the bottom, this is actually pretty good. The general outline’s there, and there’s even some katakana and the Japanese flag, so we’re definitely giving extra points for that effort.


This one is from Mr. C, who is English. It gets a passing mark since Hokkaido and Honshu are shown as separate islands, and there’s something at the bottom that could potentially be Okinawa and its surrounding islands, but it still looks a bit like a Yorkshire Terrier pooping.


U-san from Denmark included some helpful labels on his own poop-shaped Japan, and we do have Hokkaido and Honshu separate, even if the latter is kind of tiny. However, Shikoku and Kyushu have again been completely forgotten about.


Mr T from Vietnam, meanwhile, also gets a passing mark for having Hokkaido separate and remembering the island of Okinawa off the bottom. We’re not sure why he’s drawn the country horizontally, though. Maybe this is Japan is seen from space or after messing around with Google Maps too long.


And last but not least we have the entry from our own writer, a real live Japanese person. Hokkaido at the top is looking strangely angular, but the four separate island are all there, which is the least we can ask for. Hopefully every Japanese person would produce something of this level minimum. But before our Japanese readers start getting all smug, we’d like to see the kind of maps they’d produce if asked to draw some of the countries listed above!


Who do you think made the best attempt? Let us know in the comments section below!
[ Read in Japanese ]