When in Rome, do as the Romans do
The amount of foreign tourists visiting Japan is overwhelmingly increasing, while the understanding of manners and customs in Japan is considerably lacking. In many areas throughout Japan, problems in regards to tourists are arising.
The key to being able to properly welcome and care for foreigners lies within deepening of the understanding of Japanese culture. With an unwavering increase of tourists each year, this has become the next topic in regards to Japan’s tourism.
In Kyoto, one of Japan’s largest tourist areas, leaflets written in English and Japanese about ‘things you shouldn’t do in Japan’ have been distributed.
The leaflet mentions things such as not taking pictures of maiko without permission, and taking your shoes off when walking on tatami mats. While this is common sense for Japanese people, these kinds of things are occurring resulting in complaints. With the distribution of the leaflet, the number of complaints decreased.
In Nara city’s park, many tourists have been irritating deer in order to take a picture with them, causing several incidents. In April, 4 signs written in English and Chinese that warn people not to tease the deer when feeding them have been put up.
Incidents regarding toilets have been occurring nationwide. In Shizuoka, where many foreigners go to climb Mt. Fuji, signs warning again flushing litter down the toilet have been put up.
Last year, 2,800,000 foreigners visited Japan, which is the highest number recorded. At the same time, an increase of “public nuisances” has also appeared.
Many people have seen foreigners talking in a loud voice on trains or talking up parts of the road walking in groups.
Much of the trouble is related to manners. Rather than tourist organisations and authorities warning tourists, it would be more effective if Japanese people kindly told tourists about the customs and manners of Japan. It is likely the majority of people would accept them.
The government says that in 2020 (when the Tokyo Olympic games are held), the number of tourists is expected to increase to 4 million. In June, the law banning private residential buildings from taking in temporary lodgers was lifted in an attempt to accommodate the increase in foreigners that will affect Japan nationwide.
What is most important is that Japanese and foreigners are able to understand each other and can enjoy their time in Japan. Japan aims to be a tourist capital that greets visitors with an open smile.