Monthly Archives: January 2015

Foreign expert tries to line up cushy government commission

From Christmas Day in the Japan Times, someone perhaps trying to set himself up as the next Alex Kerr fixes Japan’s tourist industry. Reading the article I got a similar feeling as to when I read Kerr’s Lost Japan, of a man a bit too full of himself and his achievements of knowing Japan better than the Japanese. 

“If love for Japan is indeed a worldwide trend, as Japanese people themselves say, why is it that only 13 million people visited the country this year, while in France they had some 83 million visitors?”

Umm, does anyone not know the answer to that one?

Most have little real engagement with Japan during their visit. Only 3 to 4 million of the total, he said, truly explore the nature and culture and form a real connection.

Sounds a bit like a “No true Scotsmantish Tourist” argument, and 25% sounds like a healthy percentage to me, indeed if anything is greater than I would guess if “true exploration” meant venturing further than Ginza department stores and a few photos at the Meiji Shrine.

Its priorities should include […] installing signs in English that have been proofread by a native speaker

In particular by this guy’s company, perhaps? Korean and Chinese would be more important, of course.

producing souvenirs that match foreigners’ lifestyles

I agree than most often souvenirs appear to be targeted to Japan day-trippers, but just last night on the news I saw that in New Chitose Airport, mainland Asians were buying snack boxes by the carton and delaying flights as the baggage handlers couldn’t keep up.

Many souvenir dishes, for example, are simply too small to be used in foreign cuisine.

“Western”, not “foreign”? Expecting a chawan to be super-sized doesn’t quite feel right to me.

Tourists place no great value in some of the qualities Japanese often brag about, including safety, clean streets and the punctuality of public transportation, Atkinson said.

Really? Getting to where you are going on time without being robbed is of no great value?

These things “may be interesting to see once or twice. But visitors don’t come back” to see them again.

That’s different from “no great value”, and visitors don’t tend to come back if they feel unsafe.

It is “embarrassing” for Japan to be proud of such small things while its government is not spending enough to maintain and restore cultural properties, he added.

In other words, “I want my government contract!”

Fortunately, Japan is blessed with four assets any nation aspiring to be a successful tourism destination must have: a culture, a history, a mild climate and glorious nature, Atkinson said.

“A mild climate”? I’m freezing my nuts off here! The list sounds a bit four season-ish to me.

“If they can collaborate more with foreigners and listen to a bit of what they say, I think Japan can be more attractive,” he said.

Preferably foreigners (a) from target countries and (b) without vested interests. I’m available!

Japanese Only: at least they keep the Muslims out

I hope you don’t all choke on your mochi when you read this extract from a random blog:

The country legitimately has policies in place to keep Muslims out of the country. It is impossible to get residency, pretty difficult to get any sort of visa, and bordering on impossible to find housing if you are Muslim. They site “neighbor discomfort” as one of the main reasons for housing discrimination in this case.

Err, “legitimately“? It’s bad enough that the author seems to have accepted at face value a stupid rumour doing the rounds of the web, but it’s pretty awful that they would praise it. And, putting my pedant hat on, it’s “cite”.