Iwate Prefecture uses samurai pictograms to help educate and inform foreign tourists

By Oona McGee, RocketNews24

As Japan gears up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, local and prefectural governments are working hard to find ways to accommodate foreign tourists and help overcome language barriers at establishments like restaurants and onsen hot springs around the country.

Iwate Prefecture in the northern Tohoku region has been implementing a plan to welcome foreign travellers to the area since April last year, with a set of pictograms for local businesses to download and use on their premises. Titled “Ten Ways to Make Travellers Happy”, this collection of black-and-white icons is designed to catch the eye of tourists with fun graphics, which include an image of a naked samurai with a topknot.

The samurai is instrumental in providing guidance for first-time visitors to Japan’s public baths. Although we have to hope the below message to watch (out for) others when washing doesn’t get misinterpreted.

The samurai also asks visitors to avoid washing inside the tub. Obviously, smuggling your crab friends into the bath inside your hair is off-limits too.

He’s also here to spoil the fantasy of drinking refreshing Japanese sake while bathing.

And although he looks like someone covered in measles or chickenpox here, he’s actually dripping with water, to show you how not to enter the locker room after your bath. Wipe all that excess water off before entering the locker room, samurai.

As well as helping foreigners out with the finer points of bathing, the Japanese warrior also appears in a number of pictograms to disperse some other handy information too.

To see the full set of 26 pictograms in the “Ten Ways to Make Travellers Happy” series, check out the official website here. Unlike the controversial onsen hot spring mark and the traditional temple pictogram, these icons are a lot easier to understand universally so let’s hope they don’t run into any problems!

Source: Japaaan

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Japanese spray toilets receive new standardised symbols to help foreign tourists -- Japanese government recommends changing Buddhist temple mark on maps to avoid Nazi connotations -- Got tattoos, but still want to experience a Japanese hot spring? It’s no problem here!

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Unlike the controversial onsen hot spring mark and the traditional temple pictogram, these icons are a lot easier to understand universally

No, they aren't. You can see this by following the link and seeing the fact that several signs that mean polar opposites have the exact same image, just with different text at the bottom. If you have to write your message on the bottom of the sign, you haven't made a better sign, you've just made a more decorated one.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Agree with katsu.

The NO symbol (or prohibited, banned etc) is usually a diagonal line across the pictogram itself. No idea why they didn't use it, seems pretty international to me.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Wow. Those are really messed up. They need a diagonal red slash through the No pictures but holy mother of god:

"No washing inside tub" could be interpreted as "Don't go all Carmen Miranda by wearing fruity hats." Or, conversely, "Please wear a fruity hat in the tub."

"Shoes off" and "Shoes ok!" is the same picture. And they aren't shoes, they're geta. In a shop? Japanese people take their shoes off when they go shopping? I've never seen it.

Four have the same picture for four different things: being able to use or not use a credit card and what appears to be a bank transfer (?) As it is in Kanji, a writing system unfamiliar to most of the world, that makes no sense if they are trying to communicate with "foreigners."

I'm amazed Iwate has no JET program ALTs running around that could easily have mentioned the confusion.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

borschtFEB. 16, 2017 - 09:11AM JST

I'm amazed Iwate has no JET program ALTs running around that could easily have mentioned the confusion.**

JET ALTS , seem to be running around.. causing educational confusion during their stay here, rather than correcting English.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

These are horrible. Clearly they did not get any feedback from their target audience before releasing. They really don't reflect well upon Iwate. They should retract the right away and try again with feedback from native speakers from the start.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

i hate to be snooty, but after living in Japan so long, i also don't appreciate when others do not follow onsen etiquette. at a bath near Mt. Fuji for example, a most likely Chinese group kept putting their towels in the water. another probably Japanese fella was washing at the sit down shower and spraying water everywhere!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yes these are dreadful and totally ineffective. They should be scrapped immediately and replaced with nothing at all, if proper alternatives are not available. The only purpose will be to attract ridicule.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Watch others when washing" sounds like they want to encourage voyeurs!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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