Thursday, October 16, 2014
A Long Time Coming But Progress Is Being Made
For the Western traveler, visiting Okinawa, some obstacles can get in the way.
The biggest one being, the language barrier.
Learning to speak a foreign language, is one thing. Reading is another.
A visit to the Ginoza Museum, inspired me to write this post.
In the past, I've visited several times and, didn't really need to take anymore photos.
The gal at the front desk gave me something that just made my day.
So, I figured it was worth a few hundred yen, go in and shoot one photo.
Maybe, I should print, frame and give these dragons on a flag, to her.
Here's what, I walked away from the museum with.
It's a 60 page book, covering Ginoza Village's history, culture, nature and industry.
It's written in Japanese and English and, contains a map of the whole area.
Something like this, is worth it's weight in diamonds but, she gave it to me for free !
One afternoon, I came across this 45 page paper while, researching online.
It is in PDF format so, you can download or, read it on your computer.
It is something, everyone in the travel and tourism business should be reading.
The author, Shigefumi Asage, hits the nail squarely on the head.
The Yambaru Wildlife Center, surprised me with this gadget, recently.
For those who don't read or, speak Japanese, they have a tablet.
It is multilingual so, you can give yourself your own guided tour and, it's free.
Naha City Tourism Association publishes this pamphlet.
It contains enough about the big city area to keep you busy for days.
They give you maps, some history, where to go and, what to do.
And, on the last page, they have phone numbers for, When You Get in Trouble.
Not to be outdone by the big city folks, Nanjo City has this.
It is a Japanese and English, Nanjo City Tourism Map, which, I use a lot.
This one is crammed full of enough information to keep travelers busy for months.
Things are off to a great start but, it could get better.
Over the past year, I have noticed these improvements and gathered some materials.
A few months ago, we discovered something, on Izena Island.
There is a free, Multilingual Call Center
The Map It Okinawa dude, tested the number, to make sure it works.
And it does.
You could probably, call from anywhere in Okinawa and get translation help, FREE !
Old guys, don't listen to telephones very well.
So, I usually just strike up a conversation with an old woman, when, I'm in trouble.
Multilingual books, maps, pamphlets and tablets are the way to go.
Those cities, towns, villages and outer islands, that have them, are going to do well.
Road signs, historical markers and ATM machines could be multilingual, too.
The easier it becomes for travelers, the more they will come.
While, printed and painted materials are helpful, there is another area of concern.
Websites, for many potential tourist attractions, need to be multilingual, too.
Some sites have the capability and are extremely useful.
Others, leave tourists at the mercy of mechanical translation. Groan
All of Okinawa needs to do what the folks above have started.
Or, I'll just keep on talking to old ladies !