Sunday, June 01, 2008

Random Notes from the Tourist Bus

We were on a tour with 30+ folks from the US. Most were friendly enough and easy to get along with.

However, I'm surprised how many people complained (and how often) about folks here not speaking English. I've been overall surprised at how well many people speak English, and how willing they are to help me despite my VERY minimal Japanese.

I imagine a Japanese tourist in many areas of the US would be hard pressed to find even one person who could help them in Japanese. Nor would they find much signage available in Japanese.

On the tour bus, much complaining was heard when we were planning to walk more than 15 minutes to get from the parking lot to some sight-seeing spot. (Some of these folks were well-along in years, but they weren't necessarily the ones complaining.) But folks were quite happy to decide to sit on the bus and wait, so that worked out well, it seemed.

I get really irritated by the "little girl" references to adult women (usually a salesclerk), and big generalizations about the whole of the Japanese population.

I was impressed by our tour guides, who did a good job giving some background information for each of the sights we went to see. But yeah, we spent a lot of time on the bus getting from one place to another. Riding a bus that way gets you to and from places, so you get to see a lot more in a lot less time. But it seems like an odd way to experience a foreign country, doesn't it?


  1. hey B! thanks! glad to be back. it looks like i have a lot of catching u p on your fantastic adventures to do.

    my bike came back with me from england for the summer, and i just had the LBS put it back together. *finally.

    hope you and your bike are well!

  2. That attitude about how everyone should speak English really irritates me. When I studied in Vienna (where many people really did speak English and usually another language or two), I wouldn't have considered trying to speak English unless I was really in a tough spot.

    Some friends of mine and I use to play a game called "spot the american tourist." It was so easy. And embarrassing.

  3. I spent an afternoon touring an English garden with a Japanese tourist--we were in an area with few buses, and when Politica and I (and our rented car) showed up at a tourist info place asking directions to this garden, the tourist info person asked if we'd give this Japanese tourist a ride as it would be a long wait for the bus. I was so impressed that she was travelling alone in England--she had an adventurous spirit but very limited English (and her traveling companion had married the year before and thus was unavailable, she explained). It was a pretty neat afternoon we all spent together. I'd forgotten about it until now, though.