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. 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.

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