Ata Distance: “Japanese Typography, Apple Maps and the Art of Using Color Kanji”

Came across a really interesting article about the intersection of Japanese typography and phone maps (while researching an article about how to use the Suica card on Apple Pay), and how Apple Maps fails to adhere to customary rules to keep things legible:

It is important for designers to understand the difference and keep it in mind when working with Japanese typography. Unless the designer takes careful steps, Japanese text quickly becomes unreadable at smaller sizes especially when overlaid on colored backgrounds.The best example for keeping Japanese text legible against a varied background is the humble, lowly supermarket chirashi: the supermarket ads inserted in the daily newspaper that end up as kitty litter box liner. Supermarket chirashi are the meat and potatoes of Japanese printing companies big and small and the first work that new to the job employees and designers cut their teeth on.

Bonus for smartphone map nerds (completely unrelated to Japan): Justin O’Beirne’s captivating analysis of Google Maps’ evolution in the past decade.