Japan Wants Your Travel Advice

Japanese sign for no smoking

Recently the Japan government announced that is what looking to recruit foreigners to help give them advice on how they can make things more travel-friendly for non-Japanese speaking visitors.

They are looking to pay for the travel allowance of 100 people for feedback on how to make it easier for travelers to use public transport, stay at local hotels and eat at local restaurants.

Sounds pretty good right?

Where do you sign up?

The first thing that probably comes to you your mind is – where do I sign up? But after a hour or so of digging, I really can’t find any place to volunteer. If the Japanese government is anything like my Canadian one, initiatives are typically announced before the roadwork is laid to move forward on said initiatives.

Oh well. I’ll keep looking and let you know if I ever find the place to sign up.

How difficult is it to get around Japan?

Japanese street sign

Maybe I’m not the best judge of how difficult it is to get around Japan. My wife says I did a remarkable job of getting us to our destination when we first visited Japan. But I do know it can be rather intimidating to go to a place with so many people and mostly everything written in a language you can’t even begin to understand.

I remember one situation that happened to us in the Kyoto underground where I noticed an older couple starring at a ticket machine with their mouth agape. I recognized the look immediately because I had the same look a day before when a Japanese man helped me understand the Kyoto subway map. So I went ahead and offered my assistance since I had pretty much mastered the machine from the day previous.

What was interesting was that the couple thought I had been in Japan for months since I knew my way around so well. They were kind of surprised when I told them that I had actually only been in Japan for a few days. So I guess things could be improved for helping tourists find their way around Japan.

“What we hear is that there really isn’t enough information on things like how to buy train tickets, or how to use the baths in traditional Japanese inns,” said the official.

“It’s hard for us Japanese to judge how prepared different parts of the country are — we need people to use as monitors who really don’t know Japan at all.”

What has been your experience?

No jumping off escalator sign

So far I have only been in either major centers or touristy locations in Japan. Which seem to have pretty decent signage and directions in English. But there’s probably a lot of room for improvement once you get off the beaten track.

What has been your experience getting around Japan? Were you constantly getting lost or ending up in the wrong places? We’d love to hear from you in your comments!

Photo Credits – Japanese No Smoking Sign by: megadem, Japanese Street Sign by:
chrissam42, Escalator Jumper by: bthomso.

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