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What does Japan need to do in order to attract more tourists?

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Probably make things a bit more tourist friendly in terms of English speaking tour guides and whatnot, which was posted here on JT not too long ago. Highlight bargains including hotels and cheap eats. Contrary to what people here state, the biggest thing people ask me about Japan is if things are expensive. That's right, not once has anyone ever curious about Japan asked me about Jp "racism" or xenophobism or other ridiculous non issues. Their main concern and curiosity has been the image that Japan is too expensive which it is not if you do things properly.

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1)Stop trying to be WHITE or BLACK with your outfits and attitudes. 2)Stop treating Gai(koku)jins like Gai(koku)jins and act with the same respect as you do with your own! 3)People should have POSITIVE experiences when in a country, SMILE more! (They are ususally drunk or asking for money) 4)STOP BEING SO EMO!! Enjoy life and spread good energy. Less suicide rates. 5)All newcomers should get a booklet in their home country's language explaining how to travel throughout japan the easiest and cheapest! 6)FIX your language!!! (It's confusing for you and us) 4 different types(Katakana, Hiragana, Kanji, Romanji) in one language...DameDA!!!

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Japan doesn't have a lot to draw tourists. None of my family or friends in Australia would have come here if I hadn't been living here. It was just a novelty for them. At least for Australians, a holiday is a place to get away and relax. Japan doesn't have that image, unless you go to a resort in Okinawa. Japan is seen as more of a cultural tour destination, but who really wants to see temples, shrines, kabuki and noh?

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Agree with rjd. They seem to want tourist and then screw things up. When the new subway line opened in Osaka last year they took ALL of the English/romanji off the subway maps and replaced it with some coloured/numbered system that no one understands. If folks don't know the number or colour of the stop they want, they have to ask someone... we all know how helpful folks are here with being asked directions.

The price thing is another. Cheap hotels and whatnot don't often have websites in English and the places that do, faaaaar too expensive.

Getting food here isn't as difficult as other places due to the plastic displays outside but when given a hand written menu all in Japanese even now I get flustered. English menu would help.

Mind you, they could do something abotu English education in Japan so that folks could actually speak English...

Oh, and of course the wareware nihonjin... "We are so special"... staring and gaijin comments should also stop but I think that would be expecting too much.

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Yeah tmarie, for Aussies it's a novelty, but for most the accommodation prices and language barrier make Japan a non-destination for holidays. In order to attract more foreigners Japan needs to create a network for travelers with cheaper accommodation like, hostels and backpacker's inns.

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Keep your culture. Do not copy "western" culture (which isn't even western to begin with).

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if the airfare from australia wasn't so expensive i would be going there at least once a month!

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Focus on the higher end tourists to bring in he cash, not the whingy backpackers who complain about price and expect everything to be written in English.

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Clean up the beaches, get a better climate, not have such ugly concrete wastelands for cities, make the touristy things like skiing, camping and mountaineering more accessible for tourists rather than only promoting them to the Japanese and just generally be more tourist orientated. Are they that important to the Japanese economy, anyway?

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I think that another problem is the cost of travel inside J. It strike to me, that it cost to me more go from Nagoya to Kagoshima for visit my family than travel to Seul for a weekend vacation.

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Stop looking like you are going to have a heart attack when a foreigner approaches you to ask a question

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What Beaches? do you mean the bits of sand between the boat ramps? The Japanese should stick to the "if you don't like Japan the way it is, don't come" approach. Why try to change Japan to Butlins holiday camp or the Gold Coast it will just attract the idiots and cost Japan more in the long run. If you want to go camping in the mountains there is nothing stopping you accept a few bears and 6 meters of snow in winter, no one else bothers you which is great, not like in some other countries where you can't find enough room to put your tent pegs in.

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Try to educate the population about manners when encountering someone different. Staring, pointing, or shouting out are considered rude in most countries when encountering someone who is physically dissimilar to yourself. The Japanese need to start instilling this idea in their kids especially so they grow up not carrying on as they do now. My parents taught me never to do such things in regards to people who were disabled or looked different in any way because it hurts their feelings. The Japanese either don't care about the feelings of foreign people or they are too ignorant to realize their actions are disrespectful. More English speaking and guidance. I know that people hate this, but English is currently the international language (it used to be French, so let's just accept one language will always bind us, but it may not be the same one forever). Japanese is a difficult language to learn because it's hard to read without learning lots of characters, especially if all you want to do is come for a nice tourist trek and not live here forever. The notion that learning Japanese is a compliment and not doing so is an insult isn't helping tourism. More low cost accommodations and food tours. Food is one of the biggest reasons people come to Japan. Make the process of accessing it easier and the cost more reasonable. Make the culture accessible by expanding beyond simple translation. Japanese culture needs to be framed properly and placed in a psychological context to help foreign folks relate to it. Get over the idea that Japan is just too sophisticated for foreigners to comprehend and help them understand it so they can develop deeper interests and are interested in coming here again and again. It's not that confusing, but Japanese people like everyone to think it is.
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Very simple. Too simple : a few familial leisure resort places with Chinese speaking staff.

Most tourists are Chinese, it's an increasing trend. They are not passionated with Japanese culture (want to to see a little of it), not impressed with eikaiwa people trying their Engrish on them. They come to Japan to relax and do shopping. 90% of them. Put them on the priority list.

Well to tell the truth, that's easy to find businessmen able to build and manage a resort, but a revolution would be needed to bring Japanese cultural tourism into 21th century. I always feel extremely ashamed to take tourists to the grotty museums in Kyoto. My friends and relatives (I include the Japanese ones) have been to all the big European museums, were welcomed by guides speaking 5 languages + headphones in 30 other dialects, catalogues and booklets in 50 versions, interesting exhibitions with relevant explanation, postcards for sale... and they cannot believe that here, there is only a sort of amateurish "my village exhibition hall" and its Obatarian special omiyage shop.

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I have made many trips to Japan over the past 40 years and I truly embrace the class and culture of the country and it's people. I would hate to see changes made in a culture merely to attract foreign dollars. Japan's core is too important to sacrifice for something so superficial. That being said, there is one major improvement that would not only attract visitors from afar, but would also increase internal tourism. When I watch TV programs such as Soko Ga Shiritai, I see many places I would love to visit and enjoy. Unfortunately, the program fails to mention the difficulties of traveling within the country. Certainly, the use of a small back-pack is possible on a short weekend trip in the train. Unfortunately, for anything requiring more luggage, it is extremely difficult if not almost impossible to move from one place to the next. Most tourists don't want to haul two or three pieces of luggage on and off of trains and through terminals, and even if they do, there is no space for them on commuter trains. The trips on Soko Ga Shiritai make the destinations all look interesting and easily accessible, but they don't show the truck or bus or other support vehicle which is making it all possible. The reality is that such undertakings are unbelievably difficult for the average tourist, either foreign or native. Perhaps simple for a young couple but a major undertaking for someone a bit older or for a family that wants to vacation together. It's actually easier to travel from Japan to Guam or Hawaii than to an internal destination. Any well thought out internal travel system that addressed these travel needs would add immensely to the experience of the traveler, foreign or native.

Let me also state that as someone without much ability in languages other than my own, I still acknowledge that as being my problem and not that of the country which I visit. With the exception of in Tokyo, I have always been impressed with the efforts that the Japanese people have shown me in trying to assist me when I need it. The simplest gestures of common courtesy and mutual respect are always reciprocated in kind.

LDWill

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Have real non-smoking areas and actually enforce the non-smoking laws. Too many times people smoke in the non-smoking area and get nasty when someone in asks them to stop. Even most police will not get involved. Other than that, wait for the financial situation internationally to improve.

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Taxi's is too expensive !!! Everything is just too expensive !!!! I met a tourist 2 months ago. Him and his wife complained to me that Japanese people are kinda of ANAL and cold looking. Especially taking the trains. People give the cold shoulder on the the trains.

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Let's face it. Japanese don't WANT more tourists. They don't even want the ones who are here now. How would they ever want more?! Times are hard even for the natives in this country. The question really should be, how can Japan improve itself and its society, providing more opportunities for its women in the work force for example, so that they don't walk around with sour puss expressions all the time, and begrudge moving over even a centimeter on the trains to squeeze into. In a word, being more magnanimous about life. I'm not saying that ALL japanese people are like this, but let's just say an ever increasing number of the city dwellers are like this. Put on a happy face. No. 1 After that, build a new highway above the Kosoku doru, not just endless roads leading to nowhere in the country. Distribute some of the 11 Trillion dollars locked up in the banks and P.O. accounts, and allow the people to enjoy THIS life, not after they're gone. John Lennons Imagine comes to mind. "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one."

If the law was changed to make more equal rights for all, men, women and children, and it was abided by, not just emotionally by your friendly smiling koban who do absolutely nothing, but with real authority so that its illegal to not rent to foreigners etc. In a word, if the peoples hearts are friendly and welcoming as their advertisements to sell new products, then you will attract more tourists, not before.

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Provide services, websites, timetables, maps, and the like, in languages other than Japanese. English, would be a good start, being the official language of more than 40 countries, and probably the major business language of the Asia Pacific. The English deficit in Japan, is breath-taking. And the arrogance of some officials, who still regard TOEIC scores as a reliable measure of English COMPETENCE, is perplexing, to say the least. Just ask the tourists!

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Some people will complain wherever they go. I love Japan! I also see Japan is successfully attracting Chinese visitors to places such as Mount Fuji, and providing them a good time at reasonable costs for groups. To attract more individual tourists, it might be good to hire a few foreigners to help put out information on attractions they are apt to enjoy, lodging, transportation, etc. In particular, the mountains are mostly unknown outside of Japan, except Mt. Fuji of course, which is a disappointment for many because of the crowds and trash. I hiked over Kirigamine and Utsukushigahara in Nagano Pref. last weekend and found them both impressive. The Southern Alps and Yatsugatake are also very nice and unspoiled. Specialized information for hikers could open a new field of tourism. I would particularly recommend combining culture with nature. Historical guides to some of the mountainous areas would be really nice.

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isthistheend...Spot on. Won't ever happen, but a nice sentiment nonetheless.

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1)Stop trying to be WHITE or BLACK with your outfits and attitudes. 2)Stop treating Gai(koku)jins like Gai(koku)jins and act with the same respect as you do with your own! 3)People should have POSITIVE experiences when in a country, SMILE more! (They are ususally drunk or asking for money) 4)STOP BEING SO EMO!! Enjoy life and spread good energy. Less suicide rates. 5)All newcomers should get a booklet in their home country's language explaining how to travel throughout japan the easiest and cheapest! 6)FIX your language!!! (It's confusing for you and us) 4 different types(Katakana, Hiragana, Kanji, Romanji) in one language...DameDA!!

Actually, the only thing Japan needs to do is make sure people like this don't live here.

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What Japan needs to do is change the education system, to educate the young to be more tolerant and open-minded towards foreigners. It also has to stop teaching people that the Japanese are unique and that foreigners and foreign countries are bad. The recent poll showing that most Japanese hoteliers neither want nor desire foreign guests is a case in point. Fascist politicians with their fascist ideals making speeches (albeit true) that the Japanese neither want nor desire foreigners, must also cease. It will take at least a generation after that for things to change for the better, so this will be a very long-term project.

Maybe they could also have a program of education for ALL the citizens with regard to public manners. This is being attempted, in a half-hearted, outward show kind of way. It must be treated more seriously. Japan and the Japanese used to be famous throughout the world for politeness and good manners. Those days have long gone. Ride the trains and see what I mean. As others have already said on this thread, Japan is not the usual kind of tourist destination. It doesnt have the anything much outside of a very rich culture to offer most tourists. People who visit here almost remark to me how miserable and unhappy the people look, and how unwelcome they feel here compared to the beautiful Thai smiles and genuine warm welcome they can experience in the very popular Thailand. Tourists know what they want, and unfortunately Japan does not have what it takes to draw myriads of foreign tourists. There is little point in having a "Yokoso Japan!" campaign, when the first thing tourists experience is being fingerprinted, photographed and treated like a potential terrorist, then visiting tourist places to be given anything but a friendly welcome. The government also needs to deal seriously with the blatant racial discrimination here, reflected in the "Japanese Only" signs in abundance throughout the Japanese archipeligo. Deal with these problems, and tourists might just come in greater numbers.

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The recent poll showing that most Japanese hoteliers neither want nor desire foreign guests is a case in point.

A case in point of how a cleverly-worded article can send people running off with a totally false impression, to eagerly spread the 'news'. There was no recent poll showing any such thing. The poll you are referring to showed that roughly 1870 out of a total of some 55,000 establishments are 'not prepared' to accept foreign guests. That's about 3.4%, a very far cry from 'most'. And the poll also showed that 'not prepared' meant 'did not have the facilities' to accommodate foreign guests, language being the main obstacle, not 'did not want' foreign guests.

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what do you imagine the other 54,000 would have said Cleo? not having facilities and the language barrier is an obstacle most ryokan owners will happily keep. I've stayed in plenty, not been turned away but am sure if given the choice they would prefer not to have foreigners staying. their choice and it's fine, I just dont want to hear the tourism board either whining or saying what great steps they are making.

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cleo is right. there was no poll saying they don't want you at their ryokan. i swear, it's like there is a certain type of foreigner who has come here just hoping to encounter 'racism' at every turn.

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Less RACISM! Racism is still racism no matter how softly it is portrayed, whether it be from an obachan, policeman or ryokan owner. My father has had personal experience of not being allowed to stay in a Ryokan, so he had to stay in a tacky business hotel in Takayama, great tourism expereience that was...

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The other 54,000 did not say they were 'not prepared'. Most of them weren't even asked - it was a poll aimed at establishments that had not had a single overseas visitor in the previous year, which cut the numbers down drastically.

I also have stayed in plenty of ryokans and have never been made to feel anything but 100% welcome, even when I've made 'unreasonable' demands regarding food etc.

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I also have stayed in plenty of ryokans and have never been made to feel anything but 100% welcome, even when I've made 'unreasonable' demands regarding food etc.

The only unreasonable demands I make are (1) to be spoken to (not treated as invisible) after I've established that I can communicate in Japanese and (2) not to be asked dumb questions. Alas...

In a recent onsen stay, I was asked whether the yukata might be too small for me, despite my modest proportions. Invisibility set in shortly thereafter. I felt as welcome as one can feel when one is invisible. I'm thinking of using this newly acquired power to check out the women's bath next time.

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One of the considerations of tourists in visiting a foreign country is the costs of travel, costs of accommodation and food. We all know that Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world. In order to attract more tourist, Japan should disseminate more information about cheap means of transportation in going to and around Japan. There should also be more information about cheap facilities or accommodation/hotels which could be temporary dwelling place of tourist while in Japan. In summary, there should be more information about how to spend less when going to Japan.

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It was reported by JT that Govt has created a separate tourist agency for the purpose. Did it fail or that agency is inviting public comments? One more thing, why do they want to attract "more" tourists "now"?

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It could start by removing "Japanese Only" signs from some proprietors' doors.

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Revenues brought in by tourism is most welcome by all countries. Make foreign language education compulsory. One good move I notice is that some hotels and restaurants hired Chinese citizens who could speaks both Chinese and English to bridge the language barrier. Its frustrating trying to check in at the airport and not getting through with what you say. Having applied for a visa before coming and again be finger printed and photographed at the immigration counter is stringent. Japan is beautiful and variant with its courteous people is enough to keep the tourists coming.

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First of all, something must be done about the Godzilla situation. Second, and more seriously, why not start with a good advertising campaign? I live in the States and have always wanted to visit Japan (like many others.) Solid advertising in addition to travel and accommodation specials might be the incentive many people need to make that dream trip a reality. Hope to get there someday!

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Realistically, they need to move the island closer to countries that have a lot of disposable income.

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When I'm in Japan I often go to Western hotel chains. Easy to book, easy to get a nice room. A bit pricey though. That's great for major cities, however, as I've looked at going to smaller cities and towns you won't find that friendly western chain to book with. So I think there is something to getting other lodging to be more westerner friendly.

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First, congratulations to Nessie on becoming "invisible" at the ryokan. Most Japanese become invisible too. Most would all it a complement as it could be read as just "fitting in". You'd probably stick out (no pun intended) in the womans baths though, so be careful!

Second, all this talk of racism. I repeat that I get it here and there, but no more than I can see in other countries. Moreover, it all seems to eminate from ignorance of other cultures as opposed to being malicious. As such, it really doesn't bother me. If it becomes endemic, I would probably leave and move to a more friendly environment. Anyone (really, anyone) who stays, suffers, and complains with such regularity on racism should really consider moving out. Don't take it as defeat, it just makes sense for you!

Finally, the missing link for tourists has to be a good grasp of foreign languages. English would be a start, but wouldn't help the enormous amount of Chinese tourists that have surfaced in recent years. Teaching Japanese to a higher standard is only half the equation, bringing in more foreign workers to service the tourism industry would help too. Unfortunately, the Japanese infrastructure of very small, and often family run, ryokans doesn't lend itself well to a tourist model. This is basically the reason that most can't service overseas or non Japanese speaking guests.

Cost too is an issue. When it costs more for me to fly Tokyo - Ishigaki than Tokyo - London, AND I get two meals on the latter noted flight (nothing on the domestic one) then I know something is wrong! Tourism is aimed at the Japanese pocket so not likely to be in reach of most of the local neighbours.

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Kview,be realistic...Japan is NOT really beautiful country.A lot of tourist sites are rusting,dilapidated and run down.Japan might be interesting,but never beautiful.I was shocked when I went there for my first time.Half the country looked like a big junkyard.Yes yes yes some parts are certainly very nice,but then across the street there will be dump trucks,vending machines,tacky souvenir shops etc.I understand celebrities who are basically paid to say " Japan is so beautiful"...but come on guys,if anyone truly thinks Japan is beautiful,they must be from a pretty enviromentally ugly country.

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Make traveling here less expensive. Less expensive travel means more tourists; more tourists means Japanese become accustomed to foreign faces, which leads to tolerance, which decreases discrimination. You can't put the cart before the horse.

But maybe Japanese people don't view tourists as a necessity. In Thailand and the 'welcoming countries' the people are smiling because you equal money to them. Without tourism, their country would lose a significant portion of its economic wealth. In Japan, the amount that tourism contributes to the economy is so small, perhaps Japanese view foreign tourists as something which isn't needed.

Obviously, with so much recent news about the push to grow Japan's tourism industry, the people in charge are trying to find new sources of economic development. Perhaps Japan is rich enough to: 1. Be too expensive for tourists and 2. Not need tourism as an industry.

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Are you all hoping this leads to Obama? I am!

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I think that we discused these many times before and one of the most interesting answers that we got is that J think that tourism is for poor countries. There is no real interest in atract mases of tourists here. Only the gov want it and is because they know that the current economic system cant keep growing, in fact it started to shrink by hollowing out most of the production to china. People dont like changes, even if is for their own survival. Is not like we are happy with the idea of be a tourist spot for the chinese, but that is exactly what we need for get back part of the money the chinese take from taking J jobs. Is reality, adapt and survive or face high levels of unemployment. Until people face it, these is all just lip service with out any real interest.

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I have never really viewed Japan as a tourist destination. Although I enjoyed it here so much that I now have a part time residence, but I am sure that I am in the great minority. There are parts of Japan which are beautiful, Hokkaido which I love of course! I think I liked coming here because it wasn't a tourist trap like Thailand or Hawaii. But then again i'm not much for warm weather and beaches which is what most people are looking for. I rarely feel discriminated against or uncomfortable here although being able to read, write and speak some Japanese is of great benefit to me. I was fairly intimidated my first few times here and I could see how that may leave a bad impression to some. My worst experiences in Japan have been at the traditional "touristy" areas such as Kyoto. It seemed like the Japanese who encountered more tourists seemed to be the most rude and short tempered. I found this to be uncommon with everywhere else I had been. So what to do? It can be expensive, yes. The transportation system is wonderful and easy to use. The country is very safe. The food is good. But people who come to Japan probably are looking for a "learning" holiday rather than a relaxing holiday. Focus on festivals and events like the Snow Festival, it's really wonderful. Show off the technology and manufacturing processes of Japan. Make it fun and interactive! Well maybe i'm just dreaming. Japan is not for everyone I guess.

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Japan as a tourist destination? Not really, been here for 30 years. When I want a vacation its straight to Narita and out. I am in agreeance with Otaru-sama with the typical areas are somewhat poisoned with their tourist trap-ness. Im working on a top 10 places to go to and get stuck with Shiga Kogen and Okutama, both nice natural areas. BUT KYOTO? Gimme a break, thats been so citified (is that word? no more than agreeance, im sure) and expensive to get to its for first timers in Japan now.

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More youth hostels. Get 'em coming when they're young and they'll come back when they're older.

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First, congratulations to Nessie on becoming "invisible" at the ryokan. Most Japanese become invisible too.

Are you saying that most Japanese are not spoken to by the staff? I think you're mistaking ryokan for love hotel, Gyouza. Do you honestly think it's good service for staff not to talk to you and to pretend you don't exist? Here on planet Earth, it's not good service.

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Draw in the families and friends of foreigners already here.

Allow foreigners living in Japan to purchase the JR rail pass on the condition that it is purchased in tandem with a non-resident's pass. I generally prefer to meet friends and family abroad (either back home or in another country) because it can be prohibitively expensive to try and travel with friends who have the JR rail pass. If I could get a rail pass to travel with them, I'd have a never-ending string of tourists coming through the country.

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I don't think Japan really wants more foreign tourists...just more Japanese tourists. I'm not saying they don't want any foreigners, just that the number there are now is sufficient.

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Off the top of my head, maybe make it easier to recognize if an establishment is going to deny you access because you are a foreigner before you enter.

I'll even assist with the sign: "Please do no enter here foreigner. Police help get you leave if you try."

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How about the sign in English that is imprinted into a new office building wall in Chiyoda Ward, "Your dogs business is not to be conducted on the premisis". Isn't that the whole of it? First of all, there are very few foreigners in the area where the sign exists. That means that 99.9% of people walking their dogs are J-natives. Why on earth don't they write the sign in Japanese?! Its typical of the no-brains approach they take towards us dumb foreigners.

To attract more tourists, think about it. We don't need to be instructed like the above sign.

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Are you saying that most Japanese are not spoken to by the staff? I think you're mistaking ryokan for love hotel, Gyouza. Do you honestly think it's good service for staff not to talk to you and to pretend you don't exist? Here on planet Earth, it's not good service.

What kind of engagement are you expecting? I get the usual questions about preferences, I get asked what time we'd like our dinner served/bed made up. I don't get annoying questions and no superfluous questions. The rest of the time I am invisible to them - I am happy with that. Some oyaji try to chat up the younger (and when the drink sets in, the not so younger) female staff, who normally respond with polite amusement, but I wouldn't call that a conversation. Are you saying that you ask questions and no one responds? Never had that.

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Due to my graduate studies in Japan, I have stayed in dozens of ryokans with my group (classmates and professors). Maybe because I am very obviously in a Japanese group, I've not encountered problems with the ryokan staff often, even if my Japanese is not exactly awesome. Specially the ryokans with old oku-sama in charge are friendly towards guests. In Sharakawa-go, we stayed at a big family ryokan that looked ancient but the attention was excellent. The owner (an old lady) would even entertain dinners with some stories about the area and conversation (kind of like Geisha do, I suppose - minus the dancing and music). The staff was very nice to me and when we left, the cook gave me a bowl to mix green tea as a gift. That was very nice.

The only time during a school trip that I noticed possible racism going on was in Nagano, during a ski trip. Our professor took us to a big Onsen to go to the baths and dine at the Onsen's restaurant. When we got our locker keys, I was putting mine on my wrist when the clerk saw me, in the middle of the girls. She looked alarmed and tried to speak, but the group quickly steered me away and into the baths. No one else got in our way. I couldn't help but notice my group had "sneaked" me in, since names are not asked and we were traveling as a large group. I thought quite a bit about it, but we never talked about it.

My experience traveling in Japan is that of a graduate student, always in a group of peers and professors. Perhaps because of this and the places where we stayed were chosen by our office, I found friendliness in most places. As for shops and visits to historic areas, it's been very much the same. Since we went as a group we'd have a guide waiting for us, and local professors would give us speeches. Sometimes there's been English pamphlets, sometimes not. Never in Spanish, though. Sometimes there's pamphlets in Korean.

Something I've noticed is that the pamphlets in various languages do not say the same exact things Japanese pamphlets say. The translations are way too short and simple, omitting information that makes people miss out on the exhibits and places. This makes me wonder if translations are charged by the word e.e;. More information available in various languages would be quite helpful. The sites in general (cultural sites, village museums, city museums, temples, historical factories turned museums and so on) do not seem happy and eager to receive foreign visitors. The general impression is, when there's for example English information it is short, curt and unsatisfying as if the foreign visitor is welcomed but expected to leave as quickly as possible. The side effect is, Japanese cultural treasures seem unworthy of explanation, the foreign visitor cannot understand the importance of the exhibits and places, and when going abroad they do not entice other possible tourists with their stories as much as they could, if better attended by Japan.

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Improve it's national image. Especially amongst it's Asian neighbours which will be the main source of tourists for the future.

Japanese people should improve their attitude towards foreigners. Putting up "Japanese only" signs outside restaurants and bars do not help at all.
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Really travelling to Japan from the US or Europe is a pretty great undertaking. Most people do it as a once in a lifetime trip due to the distance and these days the crazy cost of airfare. What Japan does get is a lot of wealthy Chinese from the mainland as well as Hong Kong who come to Nagasaki via cruise ship (58 port calls last year). Japan really has to attract other well of Asians if they want to raise the tourism numbers. Again for a westerner you have to really want to come here and if you are to get anything out of the experience have a native guide to find the out of the way places.

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Let me tell you what I saw you this week:

A Chinese tourist was trying to adjust her fare at Nagoya Meitetsu Train station and apparently was having a problem with the machine. What happened was that a Meitetsu staff came to her and behaved so arrogantly that people nearby stopped to see what was the commotion. What we saw was this: a customer of a paid service being mistreated in such a way that makes me wonder how can Japanese think they are ready to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

A friend of mine went to a restaurant with some Germans where the chef came to every table to thank the clients for coming to his restaurant, BUT to his table. Of course, his table got in the spotlight and everybody was looking at their table. I have this restaurant on my agenda: never go there.

Not to mention the oji-chan they put to follow foreing customers inside shops, because they´re afraid foreign customers will shoplift. Or the upsetting ¨irashaimasse!!¨ they yell everytime a foreign enters a shop (I was told by a Japanese-American friend that the true meaning of this word is reserved to the Japanese customers, which is something like a soft voice ¨may we serve you?¨, but the entonation is completely different when a foreig is seen inside a shop and the voice changes to a hard and annoyed tone, meaning ¨let´s keep an eye on him! shoplifiting!¨).

Sad, but true. Most tourist may come here once, but I doubt they want to return a second time.

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if japan wants to get more tourists--in addition to those who come over for the temples--then cities like tokyo need to develop more into world cultural centers like new york, paris, london, rome, etc. besides manga, what cultural industries does tokyo really have that have international appeal?

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I was told by a Japanese-American friend that the true meaning of this word is reserved to the Japanese customers, which is something like a soft voice ¨may we serve you?¨, but the entonation is completely different when a foreig is seen inside a shop and the voice changes to a hard and annoyed tone, meaning ¨let´s keep an eye on him! shoplifiting!¨

Rubbish. They yell irashaimasse at everyone. The intonation is no different and it's so much of a set phrase that it means nothing. Your J-A pal is pushing your buttons.

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Cleo - like it or not, there have been various polls conducted at intervals during the past few decades which always show that the majority of Japanese want NOTHING to do with foreigners. Also, for the record, I am not looking for racism at every turn - but I do see, and personal experience of racism in this country. Maybe those of you who are so keen to defend beautiful Japan are still rather wet behind the ears and still in that wonderful "honeymoon period." Give it time.

If the J Government is really serious about wanting more foreign tourists here, they have a lot of work to do. Like instituting 24/365 ATM machines, for starters, and not treating foreigners as potential criminals and terrorists.

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realist perhaps there maybe Japanese who do not want to dela with tourist but that doesn't mean they are racist. You obviously do not know what that word means. People here in the US misuse them all the time. Racist is a political term and implies "Hatred." Disliking something or someone does not mean that they hate them.

As a tourist i ahve had no issues with Japanese people. People have been friendly to me.

I'd say they should be work towards haveing more accomodating Restaurants. Sometimes you feel like you cannot walk into one because of the language barrier. If they had signs welcoming foreigners with foreign language menus would be a great start. You could just point to what you want without having to have someone speak your native language.

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Those who complain about the "Japanese Only" signs. Would you rather have no signs and them "dirtying" your stuff?

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Free beer wouldn't hurt.

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Let's see... as various people have mentioned, they need 24 hour ATMs, more information available in different languages, cheaper domestic transport and a drastically upgraded local train network. A lot of the local lines just have single tracks and the trains tend to look as if JR got them cheap from Bulgaria in 1981. Clearing away 90% of the horrible pre-fab buildings and all that hideous concrete that covers the hillsides, coastlines and river banks would be nice as well.

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If the government wants to attract more tourists, it should conduct surveys of departing tourists to find out what they liked and what they didn't like about their visit to Japan.

For example, I have heard complaints from friends who have visited Japan about the fact that most trains (including the shinkansen) lack adequate luggage space, even for a bag that will fit into the overhead compartment on an airplane. Another complaint I have heard is that there are relatively few ryokans for which reservations can be made via the internet, especially if one is not able to read Japanese. Although I have heard complaints about language difficulties, I have not heard any complaints from any of my friends who have visited Japan as tourists about racism or having been treated badly (or, in any event, about having been treated any worse than when they visited New York City or Paris as tourists).

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So many grumpy people :-) I lived in Japan for 3 years (learned bugger all japanese though) and have been back 4 times as a tourist. I love Japan. It might help to have and promote a service designed for people thinking of travelling to Japan. Many of my friends have this idea that it will be very, very difficult so they put it off. There's also this image that Japan is just mega cities. Perhaps promoting the beauties of the Japanese countryside (aah Sakura, open air onsen's in the snow) and the ease of travel within Japan. Promotions perhaps need to be a little less ... japanese. The politeness of Japanese culture sometimes comes off as overly formal. Great idea about asking departing tourists what they liked but also ask them why they chose Japan in the first place. Oh, and don't tell them about Nara too much ... i want to keep it as much for myself as possible.

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Cleo: ¨I was told by a Japanese-American friend that the true meaning of this word is reserved to the Japanese customers, which is something like a soft voice ¨may we serve you?¨, but the entonation is completely different when a foreig is seen inside a shop and the voice changes to a hard and annoyed tone, meaning ¨let´s keep an eye on him! shoplifiting!¨

Rubbish. They yell irashaimasse at everyone. The intonation is no different and it's so much of a set phrase that it means nothing. Your J-A pal is pushing your buttons.¨

My friend JA friend is a a well informed person, who was educated in the Japanese way by his mother. And as for the ¨warning welcome¨, he and the rest of the staff he worked with, were trained by a senior staff of one of Tokyo´s most famous depato, as a daily routine by the way.

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realist;

there have been various polls conducted at intervals during the past few decades which always show that the majority of Japanese want NOTHING to do with foreigners.

So find some relatively recent ones and post some links, otherwise I call BS on this statement.

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To LostinNagoya.

As Cleo stated, "Rubbish".

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LostinNagoya;

So in all those J TV shows and movies where they yell irashaimasse at people entering restaurants, they obviously must have filmed it that way because they knew gaijin would be watching it?

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What most of you are missing is that you think by "tourists" they mean folks from Europe or North America and most of the answers reflect that bias. They are way more likely to get tourists from Korea or China, and the recent tourism figures numbers reflect that. Stop the equating of "foreigner" with "English-speaking Westerner" - that's a minor market compared to Japan's neighbors, and also a minority amongst gaijin in Japan. Get over yourselves.

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still rather wet behind the ears and still in that wonderful "honeymoon period." Give it time.

lol

Been here 32 years. How much longer do you want me to give it?

My friend JA friend is a a well informed person, who was educated in the Japanese way by his mother.

That doesn't mean he isn't pushing your buttons.

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..educate the J service industry staff NOT to discrimate white, black & coloured gaijin tourists....:)

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Have something to offer that the rest of the world cannot provide or outdo for much cheaper....

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Dear, dearest Realist, I do wonder if we live in the same country. I have been here over 13 years and haven't encountered anything like what you claim is daily life here. I do concur with Cleo that there is no distinction between the welcomes shouted at customers, Japanese or Foreign. If I recount a visit to the US, I was badly received by many shop and hotel staff because I wore a leather jacket (honestly - every time I put it on I got a bad reception, without it, I was a valued customer), I wonder if you are getting similar treatment due to your appearance (forgive the suggestion, but I can't think of anything else that could cause you so much despair).

As for 24/365 ATM's? I think that would help more Japanese than just tourists - but nothing to do with the government, it is the choice of the banks themselves to run such a customer unfriendly model!

Generally, I think tourists have it good here, as people are generally polite - accept that not EVERYONE is. Best of all, no "tipping" to worry about!

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@ Cleo: read my first post again, you didn´t understand what I wrote. Let´s do the ABC again. Of course, they say that to everybody who enters any shop. What you didn´t get is that there are different intonations, as my friend said. Well in my opinion, you are a Japanese! Or you became one!

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Lost -

I understood perfectly what you wrote.

I also understand what shop assistants yell at customers, and I've been in Japan long enough and have a good enough grasp of the language to pick up on nuances in intonation. I don't need to rely on a J-A friend who learned it from his Japanese Mum to tell me what's going on.

Everyone gets the same irasshaimasse. There is NO difference in intonation. Believe me.

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I think Japan might attract more tourist if word stopped about how over crowded it is. In the media it is always emphasized. Large crowds of people walking down the street. Hotels with torpedo tubes for rooms. Always cold. If a tourist is looking for beach, and a local friendly bar. Where are they going to find it?

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If a tourist is looking for beach, and a local friendly bar. Where are they going to find it?

You need to get outside of Tokyo more. There are tremendous beaches all along the West coast of Japan. The water is relatively warm (at least, in the Summer) and usually pretty calm. Not so good for surfing, though. The bar isn't likely to be at the beach (although there are some), but in the town not very far away.

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Let's be honest: Japan isn't a country that many people are interested in visiting. It's like a 'special interest' place for people into ancient history and culture, onsen, kaiseki and the ones into popular culture like Japanese films, dramas, jpop, anime, etc... I have never met anyone else who had Japan in their top 10 countries they want to visit someday.

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The question here is "what does Japan need to do to attract more tourists", the answers are

If Japanese could speak enough English to communicate on a basic level like the rest of the world but that will take several generations, more English language friendly services besides the automated train station announcements, stop spreading stories about how costly Japan is which is not true compared to western European cities, street signs so you can use a map, shorter skirts, etceteras

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Mr Fourmille from next door went to Japan on a business trip. He went to a traditional japanese bath and was refused entry for being foreign.

Unbeliveable, it is like South Africa before, that's disgusting innit!!

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Tourists means "Asians" - when you allow Air Force generals to write essays defending Japan's aggressive war, you simply wish to wither and die alone. The navel gazing will kill Japan.

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Taikan,

There are tremendous beaches all along the West coast of Japan

I guess you've never been to Hawaii, or Saipan, or Thailand, or California, or even Maine.

Japan has no such thing to offer.

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I live in one of the main tourist areas of Japan (for Japanese that is) in Okinawa. Granted, there are quite a few Chinese and Korean tourists, but the majority is Japanese. And here, it's a bit different.

The big tourist hotels generally do go out of their way to have someone on staff to speak some English to tourists. There are some that can help in Hongul and Chinese as well.

Most of the tourist destinations on island (big and small) have multiple language information brochures or fliers so you can understand what you are looking at / talking about.

The most important thing, is Okinawans are fairly warm and receptive when it comes to foreigners. Granted, if you are in the tourist industry, you can't be rude. Got it. But my Okinawan friends and relatives all are amazed that the Japanese are so closed minded.

Now if we could just reduce the concrete hell in and around the big city (here it's Naha) that extends about 15km around it, that would be nice.

A Mainland Japan complaint, because I don't use hotels here: The whole concept of paying per person for a room is ludicrous. I mean, I have 3 small kids, and they are charged individually. So a room for us can be $300 or more if they give is a room. They look at us and say "5, no rooms. You must have 2 rooms". So why would I want to visit Nara, Sapporo, or anywhere else if it will run me $200-$400 a night?

And about all of the darn Americans here (I'm one of them, I know)....Too many of us are here. I think moving the USMC off of here would make it a lot nicer.

Addiu

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Cleo,

Been here 20 myself.... Perhaps you don't see the same because you are surrounded by Japanese friends the majority of the time you go out. I have seen the racism over and over again. I am not much of a social person. I like being adventurous on my own. That is probably why I have seen what others in the post have spoken of. Try going on a day trip to somewhere new by yourself and see how far you can go without having to talk your way into places; places that are normally wide open to Japanese.

The workers at many shops will follow a foreigner closer than a Japanese customer; especially if they are not an Asian foreigner.

Long story short, making friends is one thing, being accosted when you enter a business that is supposed to be open to everyone is another.

If you don't experience the racism as much as others, than call yourself lucky! Maybe I'm just too ugly..... lol

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Perhaps you don't see the same because you are surrounded by Japanese friends the majority of the time you go out.

I'm a big girl now, get to go out on my own most of the time, even to new places. I've travelled alone and with groups of foreign visitors, as well as in mixed groups and groups where I was the only non-Japanese. Never noticed any difference in the way I was treated depending on who I was with, with one glaring exception☆, never had to talk my way into a place (granted, never felt the need to go to shady establishments that offer ...er...special services...), never been followed more closely than others by a shop assistant, never been accosted on entering a business. In fact I find shop assistants are more likely to hang back out of fear that I might speak to them in English.

☆One glaring exception - Many many years ago I went to the Immigration Office at Chiba Port to get my visa renewed (I didn't have permanent residence then). Although the sign on the door said that office hours were until 12 and it was only 11:20, the door was closed. I opened it and went to walk in, only to have some bar-coded fossil dash out from behind the counter screaming dame dame dame. I asked him what was dame, I'd just come to get my visa renewed, I had all my papers in order, but instead of explaining he just kept shouting dame and trying to push me out of the door. Mr. Cleo had been waiting further down the corridor keeping the kids amused and out of mischief, and when he heard the rumpus he came to see what all the fuss was about. As soon as the bar-code saw a Japanese man behind me he calmed down, apologised, took my papers and stamped my passport.

It's my suspicion that the Immigration staff didn't want to let anyone in whose paperwork would make them late for lunch - in which case they could put a sign up saying applications must be submitted by such-and-such a time, or applications submitted after such-and-such a time would not be handled until the afternoon. But yelling dame dame dame into a person's face then caving when a Japanese man appeared was obviously racial discrimination, as well as failure to do the job my taxes pay for.

That incident sticks out as the only instance of blatant racism that I personally have ever come across in over 30 years, and while it was both annoying and very upsetting it shows not that all or most Japanese are racist but that one very rude, arrogant racist man was employed by the Chiba Port Immigration Office. To me it sticks out as the exception that proves the rule.

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Japan is very sexist even in their racism. You female experiences would be better than my male ones in Japan.

I have been denied at restaurants. These are not some type of 'soap land' or something like that. A straight up restaurant told me 'Japanese only'.

Actually, I assumed you were male in my last post. LOL..... Sorry about that!......

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Don't get me started on sexism - I could write a book!

Moderator: Back on topic please.

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What kind of engagement are you expecting? I get the usual questions about preferences, I get asked what time we'd like our dinner served/bed made up...Are you saying that you ask questions and no one responds?

I'm expecting to be addressed when the staff talk to my group, such as when they go over the specials at a restaurant or when they ask what time would be good to bring dinner at a ryokan. When I ask a question, I expect the staff to look at and reply to me, and not to the Japanese person I'm with. I expect not to be followed around convenience stores by the staff. I expect waiters and waitresses to not avoid me.

I'm saying that when I ask questions either no-one responds or they respond to the person I'm with, as if I'm not there. This doesn't happen all the time, but it happens often enough to be annoying. That's what I'm saying.

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A lot of the posters are talking more about japanese zenophobia rather than what Japan can do to attract more foreign tourists. Zenophobia is not going to go away in Japan in the next millenia so everyone needs to get used to that issue and you will be a lot happier. If we are going to talk about zenophobia, I can say that I experienced more of it at work in a mid-sized Japanese company of 400+ employees being the only "round eye" (white, US citizen) than outside in the real world as I came to call it. My neighbors were (we don't live in Japan now) all great, my J-wife + kids and I have lots of friends whom we spent a lot of quality time with at the beach or BBQ's on the riverbeds with our kids. I can only recall two incidents since 1981 (the first year I came to Japan) which stand out in my mind. I was with a group of foreign guys in 1984 in a town with less than 1,000 foreigners (that includes the Filipino club girls too), all single and enjoying ourselves at way too many restaurants and bars so we decided to go to a high end club which told us at the door that it was a club only for Japanese and no foreigners allowed. From the look of the place it was full of a lot of old farts (I am now a old fart) and I told my companions that it was not worth the arguement and lets go somewhere we will be welcomed and that was it. The only other time I can remember a zenophobic reaction is when my J-wife and kids were in downtown (I won't say what town) shopping and a Japanese Oji-san gave us a very rude look and comment like my wife had commited some atrocity by marrying a Gaijin and produced halfbreed children. Other than those two experiences outside of my workplace, my experience in Japan was one of the best in my life. In regards to my experience inside the workplace, I would say that I felt like a black person (I am from a generation that still calls afro-americans, blacks so please excuse my politically incorrect terminology) at a KKK rally and I can write volumes about that experience.

Moderator: All readers back on topic please.

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I think all these differents views we have on xenophobia is very important, and we should go on with this debate because we somehow are all tourists here, only that linger longer than we needed. eheh.

Well back to the arena full of lions. For those who are in denial about Japanese being not ready for open tourism, here´s a recent CNN punch:

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/10/09/japan.inn.room.foreigners.ap/index.html

I think this put an end to this debacle.

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here´s the link:

¨JAPAN: NO ROOM AT INN FOR FOREIGNERS¨

¨TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs says over 70 percent of Japanese inns and hotels that didn't have foreign guests last year don't want any in the future either.

The ministry says that a survey of such businesses showed they feel unable to support foreign languages and that their facilities are not suited to foreigners.

The survey released Thursday shows that over 60 percent of Japan's inns and hotels had foreign guests last year, but the majority of the rest don't want any.

It was released as Japan continues its efforts to attract more foreign visitors. The country's "Visit Japan Campaign" aims to draw 10 million foreigners to the country for trips and business in the year 2010, up from 8.35 million last year.¨

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Lost, that article was on JT a while back and was shown to be nothing but spin.

Look at the true figures; Of the 16,000 inn and hotel operators queried by the poll, 43.9 percent responded. According to the survey, 62.2 percent had at least one foreign guest in 2007, while 37.8 percent, or 2,655 establishments, served none.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081010a9.html

Since there are over 55,000 inn and hotel operators in Japan, by polling 16,000 we already remove more than 70% of establishments from the equation. Of those 16,000, only 43.9% replied; we're down to roughly 13%. Of that 13%, 37.8% had had no foreign guests the year before. That's less than 5% of the total. Of that 5%, 70% couldn't be bothered or didn't have the wherewithal to go to the expense and bother of providing language services, different food, large-size yukata & futon etc., they felt they would need to provide in order to maintain their standard of service to hypothetical foreign guests who might never make it to their tiny Mom&Pop 2-room family onsen up in the mountains off the beaten track. 70% of 5%.

Some debacle.

I wonder why people keep bringing up this withered old chestnut? Because they want desperately to believe that it's true that Japan doesn't love them in the way they think they deserve to be loved?

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Cleo;

I wonder why people keep bringing up this withered old chestnut? Because they want desperately to believe that it's true that Japan doesn't love them in the way they think they deserve to be loved?

Exactly.

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I wonder why people keep bringing up this withered old chestnut? Because they want desperately to believe that it's true that Japan doesn't love them in the way they think they deserve to be loved?

No, I just want to get the service I pay for and to be treated like a Japanese customer.

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That's a different chestnut, Nessie. I'm talking about the bogus '70% of all Japanese hotels' nonsense.

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Other than the comments about making Japan more English-friendly for tourists, how about manner police or more help ambassadors to remind people of common courtesy?

I travel a lot for my job, usually have a decent sized bag or suitcase with me, so although I live here, people tend to think that I am a tourist. One big observation I've made in my travels is that people only think about themselves in public. I've lost count of how many times I've seen people open a door allowing just enough space for them to slide through and slam the door in the face of the person behind them. In high traffic areas no less! I think that's why this country has so many automatic doors!

Or how about having people stand in front of you in line while waiting for the train, or climbing over your suitcase so they can get a seat before you. Or even ignoring you as you're struggling to carry your stuff down a flight of stairs at the station because there's no elevator or escalator and no one will help you?

Once, at Nippori Station during the rush hour I saw this Japanese girl very obviously struggling with her suitcase. One of the wheels had broken and she was having a really hard time and there were SCORES of people walking around her, even looking annoyed that she was in the way. I went up to her and asked her in Japanese if she needed some help and she exclaimed 'PLEASE!'. Then everyone proceeded to stare at the two of us as we carried her case down the stairs!

I could go on and on but I will veer off topic.

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Livvie is spot on. I have been in Japan 10 years now. last week i broke my foot and am now on crutches. so far I have had plenty of tuts and rude stares but no offers of help. if this is the true attitude of Japan towards not only their own but anybody then they will have a hard time attracting foreigners from countries where the notion of manners and politeness is how you behave to people you dont know, not only your friends or family.

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As the worldwide Japanese tourist boom in the 80's was facilitated by local Japanese tourist agencies designing tour packages that catered to exactly what Japanese wanted to see and experience abroad, I would suggest that those agencies simply help assist overseas travel tour operators create their own packages specifically aimed at the residents of that country. Japan is not the easiest place to have "fun" in, but many people around the world do want to visit. They just need homegrown guides who know what they will want to see and what they will want to avoid. I think that neither the Japanese tour agencies nor the Japanese government is really aware of what the people of say, Finland or Argentina, for example, need in the way of accomodations and sightseeing, nor what their pre-existing ideas of what Japan might be like really are.

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How about a weaker yen?

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Hi Sarge,

The exchange rate was about 265 yen to the US dollar in 1985, then plummeted to 120 within two or three years. That brought the first large influx of English teachers to Japan to earn what suddenly looked like huge wages when reconverted to their own home currencies during the economic bubble here. Tourism was largely only for the backpacker and the wealthy, both before and since then, and even now. Compared to most other countries, there are still relatively few middle-class family options for visiting Japan available at the local tourist agencies back home.

Europe and Hawaii are easy, but Japan is not. I think that anyone who can put together a satisfying and meaningful tour package for such people, with the right balance of the exotic and the familiar, and without the inevitable hassles, could make a lot of money. Local, temporarily resident English teachers are probably the very ones who could do that when they return home. They know more about Japan--from their compatriots' perspectives--than anyone else, and those who have lived here longest have probably read all the books and lived the daily experiences, and thus are best able to explain the reasons why exactly it is Japanese do or don't behave in what would would ordinarily be thought of as the "right way of doing things" in any other particular culture.

Caveat: The ability to speak and read Japanese is essential for any would-be tour operator or guide. Many of the misunderstandings and rants that many of us foreigners occasionally have magically dissolve and evaporate when we read the fine print and converse in the local lingua franca.

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Reading through all the previous posts, I notice that many express frustrations. This is perhaps natural and understandable, but the question is not "Why don't tourists come to Japan?" but more specifically, "What does Japan need to do in order to attract more tourists?" The government clearly does want to encourage tourism.

Though the Japanese government may primarily be targeting nearby Asian neighbors who can get here easily, the people posting on this topic are largely from English-speaking countries. But as we do of course have constructive things to say, I'm glad to see that some people are indeed trying to answer the question asked. As for racism and xenophobia, sure it exists, but in every country, to varying degrees.

I'm Caucasian-Asian, and have encountered hurtful attitudes in every country I've ever been to. No big deal. Whatever you look like or wherever you come from, you can play it to your advantage or disadvantage.

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Read once more.......

over 70 percent of Japanese inns and hotels that didn't have foreign guests last year don't want any in the future either.

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And that was an OFFICIAL survey, published by the government itself. What it shows is that the central government is trying hard to bring tourists to Japan, but the base of the business pyramid is not ready at all - and as the survey shows, don´t want to be ready either. Only the

IMO, Japan should be more flexible when issuing tourist visas. Just like in other Asian countries where tourism is really strong, such as Cambodia, Thailand, etc...Sure, it would bring a lot of problems, but in the long run it would bring a ¨on vacation¨ atmosphere that Japan doesn´t have at all, which on the other hand would bring even more tourists.

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Clean up the public toilets. puke

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the base of the business pyramid .....

70% of less than 5%. Some base.

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I believe the article said that inns and hotels that didn't have any foreign guests last year made up 40 percent of the total surveyed. The 70 percent of that 40 percent of establishments, who said they don't want any foreign guests in the future, would likely include the very small and the very rural, so it is more likely that it is because they have no English, Korean or Chinese speaking staff and don't know what the needs of non-Japanese guests are, than that they are racist. There are also a large number of hotels that cater exclusively to Japanese businessmen, and who probably wouldn't want any Japanese women, laborers, students or families either.

In any case, increasing tourism from abroad is the goal, and though the staff, and probably older managers, at such places may need to be educated in more enlightened attitudes or shown how to cater to foreigners, the government is probably trying to focus on the larger number of inns and hotels that are in fact on the tourist trail, and that welcome foreigners. The number of such places has grown overall, and will continue to grow. We all have stories of having experienced racism, but I think that using this poll as proof of insufferable and horrendous discrimination or xenophobia is untenable.

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Oh, one more. I was accused of passing counterfeit coins the other day in a department store. Things like that probably don't help.

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1)Give us a GOOD reason we cant be in a place rather than....... 2)Teach the girls how to BE sexy and not just DRESS sexy! 3)Add gargabe cans!!! 4)More foreign TV programs like in America. 5)Teach Japanese girls how to flirt!

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BTW.I and MANY GaiKokuJins who can understand the language HATE! Repeat HATE when Japanese people assume we can't speak even simple Japanese! Hajimemashite! J-person: Naisu tu meeto yuu! (or) Weaa aa yuu furomu?

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At the moment, Yen is stronger to any currencies than before. No wonder many people hesitate to travel to Japan today. In terms of it, what Japan can do is to think more unique offers ever! Otherwise they won't choose Japan for travel destination. We are facing hard time now anyway...

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Spent a month travelling there last year and had an amazing time. Found people extremely helpful and friendly. Friends that found out that I had spent time in Japan assumed that it was really expensive, but Japan can be done on a budget. Hostels/guesthouses from around £10GBP - £15GBP a night and eating can be quite cheap also with the variety of noodle bars and sushi restaurants conviently dotted around. Didn't have too much trouble when it came to getting around and I for one would not like to see it cater too much for westerners as most of the world nowadays is becoming too westernised. There are small pockets of westernisation, but not enough to taint it. I would say that Japan is a must for anyone embarking on world travels!

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Japan is still competeing with more, much more, attractive destinations like Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore etc. There is no need to come to Japan to fight the crowds, deal with the language barrier, get gawked at by slack-jawed country bumpkins (sorry but its true, Japanese in the sticks have few manners it seems), or face the hustle and bustle of an expensive country that really doesn't want visitors, just their money. For further evidence of what I speak just ask yourself, why do so many Japanese pack their bags and leave this country every opportunity they get ? In other countries people can have a nice relaxing vacation right in their own backyard... not Japan ! And people will pay through the nose just to get away. Sorry, no confusion here !

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To relax and get away, Japanese go by the tens of millions to hot springs, ski resorts, and on sightseeing bus tours throughout the country, especially in Autumn and Winter. The network is amazingly complex, with a stunning array of options and destinations, but is largely unknown to foreigners, who prefer to go sightseeing on their own, alone or in very small groups. The travel brochures and pamphlets are everywhere at any large train or bus station, and at all the travel agencies, but they are in Japanese, and often go unnoticed by foreigners.

I took a number of JNTO special sightseeing bus tours with English speaking guides years ago, and enjoyed them very much. But I also felt uncomfortable with some of the other foreigners, naturally, as we all had very different expectations and interests. For the same reason, some tour operators might be reluctant to actively seek out foreigners to join their tours. I've been on the Japanese tours, speaking only Japanese, and found them very satisfying and at times even riotous good fun. Perhaps small bus tours could be targeted at a mix of English speaking Japanese and foreigners, but it might not be cost effective.

Most Japanese also get away by returning to their hometowns and parents' homes at New Year's, O-bon, and Golden Week. Very relaxing sitting around all day eating, chatting and just hanging out with old school friends scattered far and wide by their work, and with families and relatives, which is the whole point.

Foreign travel, however, is usually a non-stop sensory overload, on purpose, for a glimpse of something utterly different from their own culture. They're not looking to relax in a country where their language is not widely spoken and their customs are largely unknown.

By the way, Japanese "in the sticks" do actually have exquisite Japanese manners, but don't know or care to follow the more outgoing, friendly public style, i.e., with total strangers, more common in most Western countries.

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"What does Japan need to do in order to attract more tourists?"

The Japanese need to learn more non-english languages to attract more of the wealthier tourists.

68% of Japanese students learn German.

Germany is the largest exporter in the world, and has been in all years from 2003 - 2009, except one year where it came in second. In addition to Germany, there are many other German speaking countries in Europe.

Germany is the largest Economy in Europe, and 3rd largest in the world.

German Speakers are wealthy and about the largest group of tourists in the world.

Japan needs to increase learning German fluently.

Chinese is another one they are starting to learn.

Rich Chinese tourists go shopping in Japan? http://community.livejournal.com/aramatheydidnt/355021.html

Quote from link above (on Chinese tourists in Japan): "Since a few years ago, many Chinese tourists have been visiting the area, so souvenir shops and hotels have hired Chinese-speaking staff. Even the old lady who serves tea at their onsen hotel has learned some Chinese."

Same article on a different site: http://www.japanprobe.com/2009/11/13/big-spending-chinese-tourists-in-japan/

Spanish and Portuguese are other languages countries should learn.

And down the road, Hindi and Russian will be good too.

When Companies and Countries fluently speak & print ALL info in the Native language of the Customers/Tourists, they are the ones who get the most EURO/$$$.

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Deustch2009

The Japanese need to learn more non-english languages to attract more of the wealthier tourists. 68% of Japanese students learn German.

You're right. There's increasing interest in Chinese recently. I can't say for sure, but I think that Japanese would learn Chinese much faster than English. Plus, Chinese see Japan as the ultimate tourist destination, due to historic reasons. And they spend a lot, as JT reported recently. As for other languages, I think it's impossible. Japanese study for years and can't speak English...let alone German, French, Spanish...

BTW, this hot topic is one year old?

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