This is really great news for tourists in Japan! The Japanese Government has announced it intends to establish a system that will transcend language barriers and provide a smooth service to tourists in their country. Their aim is to reflect the ‘omotenashi’ spirit of hospitality for which Japan is well known.
Visitors will be asked to voluntarily provide their personal information, such as food preferences, their religion, languages, chronic diseases, and so on: this information will be translated and passed on to restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and other institutions. The Economy, Trade & Industry Ministry has already included funds for a prototype system in its fiscal budget request for 2016. The intention of the Government is to have the full system in place by fiscal 2020; which is when the Olympics and Paralympics take place in Tokyo.
Visitors entering Japan will be asked to record their personal information using a smartphone application or personal computer either on their flight or at the airport. The Public & Private Sectors will create a new organisation to manage all this information, with only authorised restaurants and hotels having access. Visitors to Japan will be able to locate participating restaurants and hotels using a smartphone app. This means that, through translation, restaurants that are not familiar with foreign languages will be able to cope with customers such as vegetarians; and Muslims who don’t consume alcohol or pork. If a foreigner should become ill in Japan or have an issue with an existing medical condition they’ll have smoother access to medical treatment.
The Ministry is also considering developing an application or website to allow visitors to connect to restaurants and other amenities whilst in Japan.
Apps to Assist Tourists in Japan
Interactive Offline Map
MapsWithMe is like an offline Google Maps. It’s ideal for orientation when you don’t have internet connection. The idea is that you download the map of Japan in advance; now you can use it at any time, offline. Then when you do have internet connection you can locate your current position. The paid version of MapsWithMe is more extensive and has more features, such as a convenient search bar.
Train Route Finder
Navitime is a comprehensive train route finder app, and one of the only ones that works in English. It works with Wi-Fi or the Internet. It also features a Wi-Fi spot search which can be very helpful if you can’t, or don’t want to, access the Internet in Japan.
Can’t Speak Japanese?
Imiwa is a handy little offline Japanese dictionary app: it works intuitively with English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Korean, German and Russian; and the best part is that it’s free! To be able to look up words you’ll have to know the Japanese pronunciation, so it will work best with spoken Japanese.
Can’t Read Japanese?
If you haven’t studied written Japanese it will be almost impossible to look up words in a dictionary. So, what you need is Yomiwa. With no internet connection needed, you simply make a picture of a Japanese text and Yomiwa does the rest!
Image courtesy mobilegeeks.com