The Japan Tourism Agency has devised guidelines to improve signboards and make them easier to understand for foreign visitors. Tourism officials are trying to turn Japan into a more tourist-friendly country by enhancing explanations of facilities and places in foreign languages. The draft guidelines say names of facilities, such as parks and museums, will be translated. For example, "Hibiya Koen" will become "Hibiya Park."
The Justice Ministry has decided to station about 50 foreign-language interpreters next fiscal year at immigration clearance counters of 18 airports and seaports across the country, a move apparently designed to cope with the increase in visitors from other Asian countries. It is estimated hiring such interpreters from the private sector will cost 300 million yen, the ministry said.
The Asahi beer is ice-cold. Naoki Doi takes sips from it between bites of curry. The bespectacled tour guide has asked me and my family to eat fast: he's taking us around some of Kyoto's outstanding shrines and temples, and there's a lot of them to see. He is, he says, relieved to have some business again. In March this year, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of East Japan, sending a devastating tsunami towards the shore.
When first-time visitors arrive in Japan, a few things they may notice right off the bat include the juxtaposition of the high-tech and the ancient, the unfailing politeness of locals, and a curious fixation with cuteness — to wit, all the cute mascots that promote regions, historic sites, local specialties and events, the police, you name it.
Some hotels around the world try to lure you in with perks such as free Internet, free continental breakfast or free night stays for repeat customers. One hotel in Japan though, tries to appeal to unique customers by offering something you won't find in most hotel rooms anywhere. That is a model train.
Tokyo's Haneda airport unveiled a new passenger terminal Monday that will handle international flights once its fourth runway becomes operational Oct. 21. The new five-story terminal will open the same day. The airport currently handles a limited number of international flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul and Hong Kong, but once the new facility and runway are up and running, flights farther afield, including to Hawaii, San Francisco, Paris, Bangkok and Singapore, will be added.