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There are still a lot of people who don’t understand what sort of options are available if they visit Japan.

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Manabu Kato, a senior analyst at Hamagin Research Institute, on why more foreign tourists don't visit Japan. (Bloomberg)

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Such as....?

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"Hamagin Research Institute" -what the heck is that? On the contrary, foreign tourists these days are very savvy about how they want to spend their money. Word gets around, in all sorts of ways. With all the "Japanese Only" signs, the extreme ethno centrism and xenophobia, the photgraphing and fingerprinting at the ports of entry, the fact that so many hoteliers "neither want nor desire foreign guests" (just like many of the politicians and indeed ordinary Japanese people, because of all the brain-washing that goes on here, is it really surprising that so few foreign tourists want to come here? Plus, apart from seeing a few temples and shrines , indulging in a bit of Japanese culture and buying some cheap electrical goods at Akihabara, really, is Japan a "tourist" country? Even the Tsukiji Fish Market is soon putting up its "Japanese Only" signs - and they are even going to have Security Personnel there to keep the dangerous gaijin out! Yokoso Japan? Forget it! They havent got a clue.

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I understand what he means. But tourists to Japan need to make a lot of adjustment to understand what these options are. It's not like the tourist bureau is going to go out of its way to make people feel welcome. Honestly, I don't think they have a clue what to do.

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They need to promote tours that show the real Japan, like morning rides on the Saikyo-sen.

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With the curent exchange rates tourism has become an academic question now in any case.

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soaplands

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realist,

Tsukiji isn't banning foreigners, just tourists. If a foreigner were to happen to work at the market, he or she can come in; if a Japanese busload of tourists wants to wander around snapping pictures, they can't come in.

On topic, my parents didn't come to Japan because they heard it was expensive. Then my mother came and returned home to inform all her friends, that yes, it was expensive. No advertising can overcome word of mouth in countries that allow opinions.

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borscht, seriously? expensive?

until the yen's jump a couple of months ago, stagflation in Japan had meant that it was more expensive for me to visit Canada, than my family to come here. My sister and mother came and stayed in a decent hotel for a week during August this year, and were amazed that it cost so little. restaurants, shopping, accommodations, transportation, entry fees for museums etc, all about the same or less than in Canada. I always feel ripped off when I go back to Montreal, which, ironically, has had a terrible economy for the past 30 years.

The "expensive" line has, until only recently, been a total myth for at least the past 6-7 years. For Canadians anyway, Europe and England are the real bank-breaking experiences.

On the other hand, JTO and the J government do a terrrrrible job at both marketing Japan abroad, and making it tourist friendly domestically, at least for non-asians, who prefer to travel without tour-guides. And now with the yen's surge, they haven't a hope in hell of changing anything for the next year or two.

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The hardest thing for non-smokers in Japan is to find some where to enjoy a meal. Japanese food may be good but not when eaten in a fog of tobacco smoke. Some places are providing smoking rooms but every time the door opens the stink spreads around the place putting non-smokers off eating. I asked for non-smoking in one restaurant and was led to a table with a big non-smoking sign, however on the next table less than a meter away 4 people were smoking and the smoke was drifting over the non-smoking table. After a few words and the offer of another table a little less smoky we walked out. The concept of non-smoking in Japan is just plain stupid, with many places just putting shoulder high partitions up to separate smokers and non-smokers. They don't seem to understand the problem is the smoke pollution, not the people. Even McDonalds have huge gaps around the top of their smoking rooms that let smoke out into the rest of the restaurant. The truth is for non-smokers Japan stinks and the wonderful people and scenery do not compensate for trying to find some where to enjoy a meal. Japan needs to adopt a non-smoking policy in restaurants to attract tourists.

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"oberst at 01:14 PM JST - 5th December soaplands"

LOL!!! I doubt that normal soapland would accept gaijin, even if in Mito a guy tried to lure me in... anyway, I think it will be a good point to encourage more people to speak (at least) english, not just in tourist information points or hotels... or korean or chinese, pick up what kind of tourists you want

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