Foreign tourists pick top 10 inconveniences about traveling in Japan

Japan is an amazing place to visit. Whether you want to see historical architecture, modern pop culture, breathtaking natural scenery, or just eat some really, really good food, Japan’s myriad wonders have turned it into a top destination for international travelers.

Of course, Japan isn’t perfect, and so not every trip to the country is nonstop enjoyment. Japanese inbound tourist-focused travel website Good Luck Trip recently conducted an online survey asking people who’ve visited Japan what sort of inconveniences or problems they encountered. Responses were collected from 891 participants (106 using English, 102 Korean, 103 simplified Chinese, and 580 traditional Chinese), and the organizers have released the top 10 results.

Let’s take a look at the top 10.

  1. Wi-Fi environment (31.5 percent of respondents)

  2. Not being able to communicate with facility staff (20.2 percent)

  3. Lack of non-Japanese signage and difficulty understanding it (17.5 percent)

At the top of the list, chosen by 31.5 percent of respondents, is “the Wi-Fi environment.” Free Wi-Fi in public spaces isn’t as easy to find in Japan as it is in some other countries, and when entertainment facilities or restaurants do offer it, signage for it usually isn’t very prominent, and the explanations are often only in Japanese.

Speaking of language barriers, the number-two problem foreign travelers ran into was “not being able to communicate with facility [restaurants, shops, etc.] staff,” followed by “lack of non-Japanese signage and difficulty understanding it.” While major shopping centers and chain restaurants often have information desk receptionists and menus that can provide guidance in English, Chinese, or Korean, smaller independent businesses often only have Japanese-speaking staff.

▼ And, as anyone who’s traveled much in Japan can tell you, even when translations are provided they’re not always the most easily intelligible.

  1. Difficulties using public transportation (approximately 16 percent)

  2. Lack of trash cans (approximately 16 percent)

Number 4 is a bit of a head scratcher, as Japan’s public transportation system is regularly praised by overseas visitors for its punctuality, convenience, and cleanliness. The vagueness of the category doesn’t offer much of a hint as to what the specific complaints were. Maybe it’s an extension of the language barrier-related problems mentioned at numbers 2 and 3 on the list, or maybe it’s just a matter of how navigating a dense train and subway network in a town you’ve just arrived in as a tourist is always a little tricky, regardless of the country you’re in.

Japan’s lack of public trash cans is something visitors have been grumbling about for decades. Oddly enough, it’s more or less a non-issue for locals. Japan generally finds it unmannerly to eat while walking, so most snacks are consumed either at the store where they were purchased (and where trash can usually be thrown away) or at home, and on those occasions that Japanese people are going to be eating in a park or something, it’s a decision they usually make with the understanding that they’re going to need to carry their trash home with them.

  1. Difficulty using mobile payment apps (approximately 15 percent)

  2. Difficulty using credit/debit cards (approximately 15 percent)

  3. Lack of places to smoke/understanding where to smoke (approximately 14 percent)

  4. Exchanging currency (approximately 14 percent)

  5. Discount train/subway tickets (approximately 9 percent)

Next we have a pair of complaints connected to Japan’s continuing love of cash, or really three if we count difficulties in finding a place to exchange foreign currency. It’s worth noting that cashless payment apps are becoming more common in Japan, but that doesn’t necessarily meant that whatever platform you normally use in your home country will work in Japan.

Lack of places to smoke is a confusing entry, as even though Japan has been expanding restrictions on where smoking is allowed, many buildings have dedicated smoking rooms, and there are also smoking spaces set up near many train stations. Similarly, the nature of the abstract “discount train/subway tickets” problems is a little hard to suss out, seeing as how Japan has a huge assortment of discounted and unlimited-ride tickets offered at the city, regional, and national levels, but maybe the complaint is about the difficulties travelers had in figuring out which was best for them.


Luckily, there are ways to avoid or alleviate most of these issues. Most major sightseeing areas have tourist assistance desks that can provide guidance in English or other non-Japanese languages, including helping you understand how to get where you need to go on the train. Japan’s low crime rate means there’s relatively little risk to exchanging a large sum of cash at the airport and carrying a lot of it on yourself so you don’t have to worry about whether or not a roadside taiyaki stall is equipped to accept your credit card or payment app. And as for the lack of trash cans? Stop in any Daiso or other 100 yen shop, get yourself a pack of plastic bags, and put a few in your bag every day before you go out sightseeing in case you don’t find a trash can until you’re back at your hotel.

Because even if Japan isn’t a convenient place to travel 100 percent of the time, it is 100-percent worth traveling to.

Source: PR Times

Insert images: Pakutaso, SoraNews24

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