Depending on what part of the world you live in, one of these maps will look right at home while the other might seem kind of off. However, given the overall dominance of the Euro-centric map, the other one is more likely to give an uncomfortable feeling to a greater number of people.

While both are currently in use in different countries, is it possible that one map is more valid than another?

A discussion broke out on the international imageboard 4chan over Pacific-centric maps. Although it was misguidedly introduced as only a “Japanese-made map” surprisingly a fair number of people from various countries came to its defense.

USA: Japanese people use a world map with Japan in the center… What do you think about that?
Canada: Holy crap! Look at all that wasted space in the middle where the Pacific Ocean is.
Italy: It makes more sense than I expected.
France: It “makes sense” that Greenland is split into two?
Finland: Good luck finding anyone who’ll care that Greenland is split.
Argentina: It is useful, putting your own country in the center of the map.
USA: Silly Japanese, don’t they know America is the center of the world?
UK: It’s actually kind of cool. You can better see how homo sapiens evolved and spread across the world from left to right.
Italy: Seeing Italy on the outer parts of the world gives me a strange feeling…
Australia: Australian people use the same map.

Thanks to the comment out of Australia we could see that this map is not exclusive to Japan but to other countries in the Eastern part of Asia as well.

And while we’re on the topic of Australia, I have an open request for the whole continent: Would you please stop telling Japanese tourists that you use a version of the world map with Australia on top? I have met a surprising number of people in Japan who are fully convinced everyone in Australia uses a south-up map.

Anyway, the Pacific-centered map certainly has some benefits in terms of anthropology. It also disrupts the barren tundra of Greenland instead of the numerous populated islands of the Pacific. It’s also more in keeping with the tectonic plates.

On the other hand, the Euro/Afro-centric map has the benefit of being more in line with the time zones.  In addition, straying from it would screw-up various common English terms. North and South America would become the Far East and the Middle East would become the Mid-West.

In the end though, it doesn’t really matter as the boundaries of maps are completely arbitrary on a round world. And with the advent of geographic information systems like Google Maps the world can look any way you want it to at any time.

Not to mention that Mercator projection maps are for third-graders and USA Today infographics. If you want a truly distortion-free look at the Earth in 2-D, go Dymaxion map or go home.

Source: Kaigai No Bankoku Hannoki (Japanese)
World Maps: Amazon – 1, 2
South-up map: Wikipedia – CaseyPenk
Dymaxion map: Wikipedia – Chris Rywalt