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.
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Posted in: Taking the U.S. as an example, how can a democracy function if half the people hate the elected leader -- a state of affairs which usually continues until the next election cycle before repeating itself?