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Gas station signs

ハイオク: 148?
レギュラ: 137?
軽油: 115?

What meaning do the question marks have?

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Unfortunately, I am afraid this question is an issue of Japanese culture that does not have any connection to the Japanese language. Unless you can rephrase it to make such a link, I will have to close it. But perhaps somebody will be able to help you in the chat or in meta. –  Dave Jun 26 '11 at 8:14
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You think it's an issue of culture or you know it's an issue of culture? It could be an issue of one crazy petrol station for all I can tell but if you know why not share while closing? –  hippietrail Jun 26 '11 at 8:19
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@hippietrail: sorry, didn't mean to imply I knew the meaning of that (if I had to take a guess, I'd say it's just one lazy station attendant who can't be arsed updating the decimal every day)... But regardless of the answer, I cannot see any link to Japanese language (even the link to culture might be tenuous). Of course I'll be happy to hear counter-arguments... –  Dave Jun 26 '11 at 9:56
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Something is being communicated here through written communication - one half of linguistics - in a manner which someone more familiar with the Japanese language than I am may be able to interpret. Even an answer like "this has nothing to do with a Japanese language," if authoritative, would be better than closing the question and leaving it ambiguous. –  Garrett Albright Jun 26 '11 at 11:21
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nevan and Dave, the digital signs in the back have question marks too - you can see them quite clearly on the bottom two prices. They are not "2"s. –  Garrett Albright Jun 29 '11 at 14:26
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I traced the photo to this place in Okazaki (Aichi prefecture): photo of the gas station

On their web page, they claim to offer the cheapest gas based on a crowd-sourced survey of gas prices elsewhere in Japan. The numbers shown on the signs are based on these survey results:

一番安いガソリンスタンドはここ!皆さんから投稿された全国のガソリン価格口コミ情報をリアルタイムにお届け!

Further down the page, it mentions that the prices are rounded up to the nearest whole yen, which is why there are question marks displayed instead of numbers:

小数点以下を切り上げる

As you can see, the price at the bottom of the sign is for 18 litres of kerosene (灯油). This number has no decimal point, so the last digit hasn't been replaced.

As Dave suspected, these question marks have very little to do with 日本語 at any level. But I hope someone finds this useful and/or interesting :-)

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Yeah, that's where I took the picture in the OP. But I could have told you that. :P How did you "trace" it? At any rate, thanks - I didn't think to try searching their web site for an explanation. –  Garrett Albright Oct 24 '13 at 1:08
    
OMG why did the kerosene become so much cheaper compared to the OP? –  user54609 Oct 24 '13 at 2:19
    
@GarrettAlbright I just searched for ユニーオイル羽根現金スタンド. Only took a minute :-) –  squeamish ossifrage Oct 24 '13 at 9:52
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