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.