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Ship Log

Which Way’s Up for Japan Tourism?

Japan Map

You can’t get there from here.

While we were on our way to Japan it was announced that Tokyo would host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Over the next six weeks, I tried to imagine how visitors from around the world would find touring around Japan. Specifically, outside the Tokyo Games and the special arrangements for press and athletes, will Japan prepare for more tourism across the country?

It’s a challenge for Japan to welcome visitors, partly due to the Japanese personality, and mostly due to the language barrier and the reluctance to use the Latin alphabet, even though English is the common language with other Asians, and both Americans and Europeans are unlikely to be able to read or sound out Japanese Kanji characters. Tokyo is more accommodating to foreigners, of course, than most Japan cities. Other towns, like Kanazawa, are quite advanced in marketing to visitors, as we observed here. Many, especially in the northern Honshu, have a long way to go.

Unfortunately, I learned very little Japanese while visiting. I’m pretty good at imitating the sounds, but knowing where I’m headed on a map, or following instructions on signs, or even interpreting illustrated posters is beyond me. Of course I believe in ‘continuing education,’ so I ask for your comments below to help me decipher these messages. My guesswork appears in captions with the photos.

Japan Signs Fast Food

Hey! You can eat your noodles and broth separately or dump them together! Everybody’s happy.

Japan Signs OntheBus

If you talk to old ladies you’ll get a fat lip.

Japan Signs Elevator

One way to abandon your puppy, and five more fun activities with elevators.

Japan Signs PostOffice

Even if your phone can walk and talk, you should mail a letter to your grandmother.


6 Responses to “Which Way’s Up for Japan Tourism?”

  1. Interesting note on how language comes into play while traveling in Japan. I wasn’t aware that the Japanese have less tendency to use the Latin alphabet. Thanks Kristin!

    Posted by Tyler Muse at Lingo Live | November 15, 2013, 4:33 pm
  2. Well, yes, the Latin alphabet has just recently been imposed on Japan so that westerners can find their way around. (There weren’t street names before WWII.) I hadn’t realized how much I gleaned by sounding out unknown words in Spanish and German, for example. Not so in Japan.

    Posted by khenning | November 16, 2013, 4:12 am
  3. Those are very colorful and interesting Japanese posters.

    Posted by Neva Fels | November 17, 2013, 9:28 pm
  4. Love the signs!

    Posted by santafetraveler | November 20, 2013, 12:08 pm

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