Skip to content

[wpaudio url=”https://www.btbpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Getting-Ready-for-the-Games.mp3″ text=”Click to listen”]

This week’s topic ties in nicely with YU’s comment on the last entry about English translations on restaurant menus.

I read an article the other day about plans that are being made to make Japan more “visitor-friendly” in time for the Olympic games, and including English on menus was one of the suggestions.

Personally, I think that is one area in which Japan is already outstanding because of the common practice here of having models of all the food displayed in the window and/or photos of everything in the menu.

I also think Japanese public transport is quite visitor-friendly. It is definitely more so than my own country’s public transport, which is, quite frankly, baffling even for natives!

To be honest, I cannot think of any major changes that Japan has to make, apart from making sure that there are enough translators in key places like police stations and hospitals.

Based either on your own experiences in foreign countries or on the experiences of people you know who have visited Japan, how ready do you think Tokyo is for the big event? What changes would you make if you were in charge?

Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

このブログは英語学習者のためのものです。レベルの高い人もいれば、初心者もいますので、自分のレベルや学習経験を気にする必要はありません。「いつもコメントを書いている人は仲間みたいだから参加しにくい」と思う方もいるかもしれませんが、勇気を出してコメントを書いてみてください。必ず温かく迎えてもらえます。多くのコメントは英語で書かれていますが、もちろん日本語もOKですし、英語と日本語を混ぜて書いても大丈夫です。言いたいことが言えないときは、How do you say 「〜」in English? と聞けば、きっとだれかが教えてくれると思います。私のエントリー、または他のメンバーのコメントの中に分からないところがあったら、「”…”はどういう意味ですか?」と遠慮なく聞いてください。このブログで使われているフレーズや表現をたくさん吸収すると、より自然な英語に近づけることができますよ!

コメントを投稿するときは、名前とメールアドレス、メールアドレス欄下に表示される4文字の英数字(CAPCHA code)を入れてください。 最初のコメントは承認後の公開になりますが、2回目からはそのまま投稿できます。

※メールアドレスは公開されません。

※CAPCHA codeは時間切れになることがあります。コード右上の矢印で更新してから入力してください。

※ブログの更新のお知らせはFacebookまたはTwitterで!Facebookでは「いいね!(Like)」ボタンを、Twitterでは「フォローする(Follow)」ボタンを押して下さい。

27 Comments

  1. Fumie on Tuesday October 8th, 2013 at 05:51 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    When I saw the picture of this week’s entry, I thought it seems an interest topic. But for me the menus are not tempting because all the menus are buttered taste so I thought they might be little heavy.
    I didn’t know that Sushiro installed English translations on menus on machines. They must be helpful for foreigners and I want to try it next time I went to Sushiro.

    > ~how ready do you think Tokyo is for the big event?

    When I joined a walking tour in Kyoto, I got to know an Australian mother and daughter. After the tour, they asked me which subway should they take and which station should they go. I went to the station and showed them how to buy tickets and destination at the machine. There were no English translations on machines. And station names were only written in Japanese. It’s unfriendly for foreigners although there are many foreign visitors in Kyoto.
    Also when my mom and I went to Korea, we tried to get on a subway but we didn’t know how to get to our destination and there weren’t English or Japanese translations. Although I asked several people, most of them didn’t speak English. I could finally meet a guy who speaks little English and we could go to the temple where we wanted to go. Another trouble I had in Korea was most products were only written in Korean so I couldn’t figure out what the contents/ingredients were. For example, I bought a juice at a convenience store but I was not sure how it tastes until I drank it.

    >What changes would you make if you were in charge?

    I would put English (possibly other major languages) signs and instructions and English (other languages) speaking volunteers or staff should be stationed at key places. And if taxi drivers, bus drivers and sales staff at some stores speak English that would be very helpful



  2. YU on Tuesday October 8th, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Hi everyone,

    > I also think Japanese public transport is quite visitor-friendly.

    I think so, too, as for train stations near typical tourist areas in Tokyo or the center of Tokyo particularly.
    If we should change the whole Japan to be visitor-friendly, I think there are a lot of places need to be changed, but the Olympic games will be held in Tokyo and most of the events were held in the very limited areas in the center of Tokyo, so I wonder if we really need to make changes on a large scale.
    However, I think we all must raise our low standard of English speaking skills to give visitors our hearty “O-MO-TE-NA-SHI”! That’s very obvious!!

    > Also when my mom and I went to Korea, we tried to get on a subway but we didn’t know how to get to our destination and there weren’t English or Japanese translations.

    Oh, really? Where in Korea did you go? When did you go there?
    When I visited Seoul about 15 years ago, I didn’t really think that their subway system was inconvenient. I found English train stations at every station and inside trains. I think all stations in the center of Seoul were numbered, so that foreign visitors could easily understand where to get on and off.
    However, I didn’t really think their local buses and taxies were visitor-friendly. My friend and I got on the bus on a regular route to visit some sights, but we didn’t know where to get off because there wasn’t any English guidance there, so we got off the bus when we found the first subway station and took the subway finally! I’m not sure how it is now, but as you mention, I got the impression that very few Korean people spoke English, too. Most Taxi drivers spoke very little English or nothing. Taxi fee is very low in Korea, it’s very wallet-friendly, but you have to be ready for getting involved in communication troubles with your driver when you take the taxi in Korea.
    Actually, we can’t really talk, though!



  3. YU on Tuesday October 8th, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    correction:

    > I found English train stations at every station and inside trains

    I found English “translations” at every station and inside trains



  4. Anne on Tuesday October 8th, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I guess the most bothersome thing is related to language.

    The other day, I saw a TV program concerning street signs in Tokyo. It was after Tokyo was chosen, so the program focused on how difficult it was to understand street signs. A reporter showed foreigners several street signs and asked if they understood them. Actually, all the signs were written in Romaji like ‘Kokkai(the National Diet)’ not in English. Most people who didn’t understand Japanese misunderstood each meaning. Even though you can read the letters in Romaji, but it’s difficult to understand each meaning in English,right? I didn’t notice these signs until I saw them on TV.
    Here’s the news concerning this:
    http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNZO58671620Z10C13A8L60000/

    Concerning this week’s topic, two things came to mind. One is a ‘tipping.’ As you know, we don’t customarily tip in Japan when we have dinner at a restaurant or take a taxi. When I travelled to the US and the UK, it was really bothersome how much money I would pay for the service because I was not accustomed to it. One of my friends told me an interesting story. One day, just after he arrived in Japan, he had dinner at a restaurant. When he was leaving the restaurant, he put some money including a tip on the table. The staff of the restaurant chased after him with the change. I’m not sure if guidebooks refer to these kinds of information or not, and it might be a small thing, but it would be helpful if travellers researched this kind of information beforehand.

    The other is about food. I’m wondering how many restaurants offer special menus for vegetarians or people who can’t eat meat for religious reasons. I also wonder how many restaurants show these kinds of information at the display.
    We discussed food before, especially that it is difficult to find nice restaurants for vegetarians in Japan. A lot of Japanese food has fish and meat in dashi.



  5. YU on Tuesday October 8th, 2013 at 01:12 PM

    Hi Anne,

    > all the signs were written in Romaji like ‘Kokkai(the National Diet)’ not in English

    I watched the program, too.
    (Now everyone must think I always watch every program!)
    Anyway, it’s the same as Sushiro’s English translation of “極上一貫”, isn’t it?
    Foreigners like David might understand what it means, but I don’t think foreign tourists who stay in Japan just for a week or so could guess what it is through the Romaji translation! It’s nothing but our self-satisfaction that we’ve translated Japanese into English for foreigners!

    > The other is about food. I’m wondering how many restaurants offer special menus for vegetarians or people who can’t eat meat for religious reasons.

    You have a point!
    However, an American friend of mine who lives
    in Tokyo(actually in the center of Tokyo) told me that now there are a lot of restaurants or grocery stores for vegetarians in Tokyo. He is a vegetarian, but he never had difficulty in his diet(食生活) living in Tokyo.

    > I also wonder how many restaurants show these kinds of information at the display.

    That’s very true.
    I think it’s still diffult for visitors to find those information even in the center of Tokyo.



  6. Biwa on Tuesday October 8th, 2013 at 01:28 PM

    Hi everyone,

    >I’m wondering how many restaurants offer special menus for vegetarians or people who can’t eat meat for religious reasons.

    This comment was from Anne, and it reminded me of a news program that featured ‘halal food.’ They said that although tourists from Southeast Asia and other Muslim countries are dramatically increasing, very few hotels and restaurants provide those food. One of the tourists said that she couldn’t buy food as a souvenir because the package didn’t have the ‘halal’ mark on it. I don’t know much about ‘halal food’, but it seems that they must be strictly prepared and authorized, and also every kitchen tool(knives, cutting boards, etc) has to be different from others. I guess this ‘halal’ related business is going to be a big market because almost a quarter of the population is said to be Muslims, and probably many of them are coming to Japan in 2020!



  7. Biwa on Tuesday October 8th, 2013 at 01:43 PM

    Hi YU,

    >However, I think we all must raise our low standard of English speaking skills to give visitors our hearty “O-MO-TE-NA-SHI”! That’s very obvious!!

    You’re right!
    I also notice lots of signs written in Chinese and Korean, especially in train stations and shopping malls around Yokohama. It must be great if we learn some easy expressions in those languages, too!



  8. Fumie on Tuesday October 8th, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    Hi YU,

    >Oh, really? Where in Korea did you go? When did you go there?
    Actually we went Seoul just a few years ago.
    As you said, there might be English translation in stations. I might remember wrongly. Anyway, I wasn’t sure how to get to the place we wanted to go so I asked several people but most people didn’t speak English. Although most eldery Korean don’t speak English but some eldery Korean speak Japanese and we were helped by them.
    私とても不器用なんです。ほんと恥ずかしいのですが日本語で書いてあっても人がすぐ理解できることが私にはできないから人に聞いてばかり。地下鉄の表示も英語で書かれていたんでしょう。私の覚え違いと思います。とにかくどのように目的地に行くかわからなくてその辺の人に聞いたんですが英語できない人が多くてなかなか解決できなかったです。



  9. YU on Wednesday October 9th, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    Hi Fumie,

    Thank you for your reply.

    > 私とても不器用なんです。ほんと恥ずかしいのですが日本語で書いてあっても人がすぐ理解できることが私にはできないから人に聞いてばかり。

    Same here!
    I’m short-tempered, very worryart, and have no sense of direction, so I always ask people the way even in Japan!

    My recommendation is Taiwan if you go abroad with your mother next time!
    As you know, many people in Taiwan are pro-Japanese. A lot of people in Taipei city, in the heart of the city especially speak Japanese, so if you stay at the hotel there, you almost don’t need to worry about the language during your whole stay.
    When I went to Taipei with my father about ten years ago(he was over 70 then), we used almost nothing but taxies because it was very hard for him to go to train stations and to take trains.
    It’s very difficult for us to pronounce Chinese language, but if you write the place and its address you want to go in Kanji on paper and show it to your taxi driver, he’ll perfectly understand you. People use 繁体字(like Kanji used in Japan) in Taiwan, not 簡体字(simplified Kanji used in Chinese mainland), so it’s very Japanese-friendly!
    FYI, taxi fee is very low in Taiwan, too!



  10. YU on Wednesday October 9th, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Hi Biwa,

    > I also notice lots of signs written in Chinese and Korean, especially in train stations and shopping malls around Yokohama.

    I always thought it was all prepared before the World Cup 2002 was held in South Korea and Japan. I heard the final match was held in the stadium in Yokohama, am I right? Unfortunately, I was in Germany then, so I don’t really know about that.



  11. Biwa on Wednesday October 9th, 2013 at 02:32 PM

    Hi YU,

    Hmmm…Maybe you’re right. I’m not really sure probably because I wasn’t that excited at Japan’s hosting the World Cup. I was just thinking that I’m seeing many signs written in Chinese and Korean simply because of the increase of the tourists from both countries.
    According to Wiki, only the final game in which Germany and Brazil competed was held in Yokohama. (I don’t even remember!! Ha-ha!) Even though, many soccer fans from Korea and China might have visited Japan. Does any one remember?



  12. YU on Wednesday October 9th, 2013 at 04:24 PM

    Hi everyone,

    I heard that the only major problem pointed out by the IOC besides Fukushima’s radioactive water leaks when Tokyo hosting the Olympic games was that hotels are very exepensive in Tokyo.

    As you know, our government has been running the campaign to have more foreign visitors in these couple of years, but apparently so many nice new ideas are ended up in the wastebasket because of the bad old regulations such as 旅行業法. Accommodations for tourists is one of them. For example, some government official thought of offering foreign visitors ordinary homes(of Japanese people) the substitute for hotels to clear the lack of hotel facilities during the games, but it cannot be realized under the present conditions because it is against 旅行業法.

    As I think Kattie might have told us, hotels in the host city usually get extremely expensive and crowded during the games, and I don’t think it’s visitor-friendly. Tokyo is already very expensive whatever you do, so don’t you think we should prepare more number of wallet-friendly accommodations for visitors during the games at least??



  13. Fumie on Wednesday October 9th, 2013 at 09:58 PM

    Hi YU,

    Thank you for your warm word.:-)
    Clumsy person like me should join a package tour, it would be easier but I want to choose where I will go and what I will eat so I chose the one that contains airplane and accommodation only.
    Reading your comments about Taiwan, the country seems like a Japanese-friendly. Thank you for your information.



  14. Biwa on Thursday October 10th, 2013 at 09:55 AM

    Hi YU and everyone,

    >For example, some government official thought of offering foreign visitors ordinary homes(of Japanese people) the substitute for hotels to clear the lack of hotel facilities during the games, but it cannot be realized under the present conditions because it is against 旅行業法.

    Really? I wonder why they can’t do that. I understand that ordinary people’s houses are not authorized accommodations, but what about home-stays? There are lots of people from other countries who stay in those houses, right?



  15. YU on Thursday October 10th, 2013 at 01:58 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    I don’t know much about 旅行業法, but apparently staying at the authorized hotels or ryokans and homestaying(?) at ordinary people’s houses are distinguished in Japanese 旅行業法.

    http://allabout.co.jp/gm/gc/58414/

    According to the site, 旅行業法 doesn’t recognizes hostfamilies’ houses as(for?) accommodations. In addition, it also says that “旅行 + ホテル宿泊” and “留学+ホームステイ” are different. “ホテル宿泊” when you travel is under the control of 観光庁, but no government offices in Japan have juriisdiction over “ホームステイ” while you study abroad or in Japan. 
    Anyway, I guess, in short, it doesn’t matter whether you personally invite your foreign friends to your house for a month or two, but our government cannot encourage Japanese travel agencies to mediate visitors and you because it is not in their scope of business determined in the current Japanese 旅行業法.



  16. YU on Thursday October 10th, 2013 at 03:17 PM

    correction ;

    >旅行業法 doesn’t recognizes hostfamilies’ houses as(for?) accommodations

    “Accommodations” defined in Japanese 旅行業法 don’t include “home-stays.

    > our government cannot encourage Japanese travel agencies to mediate visitors and you because…

    …..Japanese travel agencies to mediate between visitors and host families because…



  17. ashmoleanmuse on Thursday October 10th, 2013 at 07:49 PM

    Hi David,

    To be honest, I cannot think of any major changes that Japan has to make, apart from making sure that there are enough translators in key places like police stations and hospitals.

    What do you think about incorrectly translated signs and menus? Most of them are just funny but some are pretty embarrassing. The former is OK and people will laugh out loud, however the latter will make them feel awkward, and that it should be corrected. I must hasten to add that I shall refrain from posting the link of the latter.

    http://www.engrish.com/wp-content/uploads//2011/08/lamb-raisin.jpg

    http://www.engrish.com//wp-content/uploads/2010/07/lemon-glass.jpg

    http://www.engrish.com//wp-content/uploads/2010/07/reisure-and-lest.jpg

    http://www.engrish.com//wp-content/uploads/2010/08/dont-know-how-to-apologize.jpg

    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/05/28/article-2151137-13555234000005DC-308_634x474.jpg

    Ash



  18. ashmoleanmuse on Thursday October 10th, 2013 at 07:56 PM

    Hi David,

    To be honest, I cannot think of any major changes that Japan has to make, apart from making sure that there are enough translators in key places like police stations and hospitals.

    What do you think about incorrectly translated signs and menus? Most of them are just funny but some are pretty embarrassing. The former is OK and people will laugh out loud, however the latter will make them feel awkward, and that it should be corrected. I must hasten to add that I shall refrain from posting the link of the latter.

    http://snipurl.com/27yoe04

    http://snipurl.com/27yoe5k

    http://snipurl.com/27yoead

    http://snipurl.com/27yoed2

    http://snipurl.com/27yoeg4

    Ash



  19. ashmoleanmuse on Thursday October 10th, 2013 at 08:11 PM

    Hi David,

    To be honest, I cannot think of any major changes that Japan has to make, apart from making sure that there are enough translators in key places like police stations and hospitals.

    What do you think about incorrectly translated signs and menus? Most of them are just funny but some are pretty embarrassing. The former is OK and people will laugh out loud, however the latter will make them feel awkward, and that it should be corrected. I must hasten to add that I shall refrain from posting the link of the latter.

    http://snipurl.com/27yoe04

    http://snipurl.com/27yoe5k

    http://snipurl.com/27yoead

    http://snipurl.com/27yoed2

    http://snipurl.com/27yoeg4

    Ash



  20. ashmoleanmuse on Thursday October 10th, 2013 at 08:13 PM

    Hi David,

    To be honest, I cannot think of any major changes that Japan has to make, apart from making sure that there are enough translators in key places like police stations and hospitals.

    What do you think about incorrectly translated signs and menus? Most of them are just funny but some are pretty embarrassing. The former is OK and people will laugh out loud, however the latter will make them feel awkward, and that it should be corrected.

    Ash



  21. asmoleanmuse on Thursday October 10th, 2013 at 08:29 PM


  22. Fumie on Friday October 11th, 2013 at 06:24 AM

    Hi everyone,

    I found it on Facebook. It said that the government of Thailand promotes good commercials.
    This commercial is like a drama.
    http://rocketnews24.com/2013/10/06/375720/



  23. YU on Friday October 11th, 2013 at 08:48 AM

    Hi Fumie,

    Thank you for the link.
    I’d seen the one with the deaf-mute dad a while ago on TV.
    I wonder if someone can see them without crying!



  24. ashmoleanmuse on Friday October 11th, 2013 at 09:02 AM


  25. ashmoleanmuse on Friday October 11th, 2013 at 09:27 AM

    Hi all,

    Here are some funny misuse of English.

    pescatore of crab over shrimp and kleptomania

    lamb-raisin soft cream

    Hibiscuss&lemon Glass

    Please use the escalator on your behind(後方のエスカレーターを使用して下さい)

    Because you are dangerous, you must not enter.(あぶないから入ってはいけません)

    Please refrain from barking to avoid nuisance to neighbors. (犬の鳴き声は近隣の迷惑になりますのでご注意ください)

    Ash



  26. YU on Friday October 11th, 2013 at 09:40 AM

    Hi Ash and everyone,

    A friend of mine told me that she always gets upset seeing the sign written in English beside the diaper changing bed in the women’s public toilets. It just says, “Drop!”(落ちろ!?)
    She always wonders if it means they want our babies to fall out of the bed!!



  27. Biwa on Friday October 11th, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Hi Fumie,

    Thanks for the link! Both of them made me cry. I wonder how frequently they’re aired on Thai TV. I might have to cry every time I watch TV!

    Hi YU,

    I see. It sounds like another inconvenient Japanese law. Travel agencys sell all sorts of trips like ‘studying abroad’ or ‘getting a scuba licsence abroad’ etc…as long as they include the flight tickets. (I used to work for one, but please don’t ask me further questions because that was nearly 20 years ago! lol!) For most people, it doesn’t really matter which ministry is in charge of each part of your trip, does it? If the Japanese government wants to increase the number of inbound travellers, I think they really need to organize all the relevant ministries and work together.

    Hi Ash,

    I see lots of those strange translations, too. I wonder what ‘kleptomania’ stands for!