Today, while waiting for one of my customers outside the ticket gates at Uneo Station, one of the largest railyway station in Tokyo, when suddenly I noticed that most of the direction signs at the station were showing Japanese language only. How can Japan expect to receive ever larger number of foreign tourists by displaying direction signs mainly in Japanese language? This is a dilemma Japan has to handle very quickly if it wants to to make itself as a foreigner-friendly nation in the coming years.
It is not that the government is not making any efforts to do so. Lot of companies in the private sector as well as many government bodies are making strenous efforts to display signs both in Japanese and English, and, of course, in Chinese, Korean languages as well. However, still lot needs to be done to attain the objective of making these signboards on roads and other public places truly foreign-friendly.
Same is the case with some road signs in the country as, for the time being, they are displayed in Japanese. As I am unable to read many Japanese characters, I get confused.
Due to the increasing number of foreign visitors getting confused due to these misleading signboards, the Tokyo Metropolitqan Government is trying to fix the major problem being faced by foreigners. The information panels across the city will undergo massive improvemnets tgo make them more comprehensible to foreigners.
The improvements will start from the busiest station in the city, Shinjuku Station. Places where signage will be reviewed include stations, in buses and in taxis.
We have observed in some places in Tokyo city and elsewhere that some signs describe same things or places differently. For example, some sign boards at Shinjuku Station indicate “Keio Shinsen,” while others give “Keio New Line.” In fact, both have the same meaning.
At some other opccasions, the wording of the public signs displayed does not match with the ones used in tourist guidebooks. We can only hope the situation will improve considerably by 2020, the time when Tokyo Olympics will be held in the city.