It can be difficult for foreigners to get around in Japan due to the language barrier, as many locals are not well-versed in English. With the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, many more foreigners are expected to make a visit to Japan. As such, authorities are making efforts to reduce the language barrier and make tourists feel more welcome in Japan.
One of the easiest ways to communicate when it comes to having different languages is to use sign language or to show a picture. Therefore, Iwate Prefecture (岩手県) has introduced this set of interesting pictograms in black and white which can be used by local businesses to help to communicate with tourists!
The pictograms feature a samurai with a top knot as their main character. A pictogram is a method used to convey information with illustrations and symbols without using words. However, with this set of pictograms, some English words are added to help enhance understanding of the illustrations. The words are sometimes necessary, as I find that some of the pictograms can be a bit confusing without the words!
1. Vegetarian OK!
The samurai character biting on a leaf means that the dishes are suitable for vegetarians. Without the English words, I think many tourists would just dismiss the illustration and would not think that it has anything to do with their food.
2. Contains Pork
These two pictograms showcase a pig in a bowl and in a plate. This pictogram is meant to be used by restaurants to show that they serve pork, and tourists who do not eat pork may want to avoid eating at this restaurant.
This set of firebreathing samurai is used to indicate the level of spiciness of the dishes. More fire means a higher spice level!
4. No Swimwear
It is forbidden to wear swimsuits or sandals when entering the bath. This pictograms explain to tourists who might not be sure about the rules.
5. No Hair or Towels
Your hair and towel should not get into the bath either. You may place the towel on your head, though.
6. No Washing
Now, this is a tricky one. A samurai with a strange-looking hat? Fortunately, with the English words added, we can know the meaning of it at a glance, which is to not wash yourself inside the tub.
Therefore, you should wash your body before entering the tub using the facilities provided.
7. Be Careful of Others!
I think this illustration below is the funniest one. It shows a samurai washing himself and the water from the shower washes away the other samurai’s wig. Maybe not one that can be understood without words, this image means that we should be considerate and watch out for others when we are washing ourselves.
8. Dry Before Entering
The samurai is shown to be really sweaty or dripping with water. It means you should towel yourself dry before entering the locker room.
9. No Diving
The tub is not a place for you to run, swim or dive! Go to a swimming pool or the beach for that!
10. No Drinking
Do not drink alcohol in the bath. It can be life-threatening if you drink alcohol in a hot spring.
Some pictograms use the same illustration to mean different things.
The pictograms below could mean either you should take off your footwear before entering the premises, or that footwear can be worn in the premises.
12. Credit Cards
The same thing applies for this series of pictograms picturing the samurai throwing out cards like a magician. It could mean that you are allowed to use credit cards or not, or whether UnionPay can or cannot be used.
13. Charging Your Devices
Likewise, the pictograms below either show whether you can charge your devices or not.
14. Thank You!
The thumbs-up means the samurai is saying “thank you”!
The happy samurai seems to be holding a large Japanese coin. It means that the items are tax-free. Yay!
16. Meet Here!
This is a unique pictogram in the series because the samurai is finally wearing a shirt! This is because he will be meeting others! This sign shows that the place is a good meeting spot.
The pictograms are eye-catching and hilarious, and will surely tickle tourists who stumble upon them. They will certainly make your trip more exciting! Keep an eye out for this samurai character when you visit Iwate Prefecture!