Yokohama: What does Tokyo need to do to prepare for its foreign guests before the 2020 Olympics?


Colleen Sakura
Writer, 58 (American)
This is Japan’s chance to show the outside world they are doing a good job of looking after their own. It would benefit Japan to show better rebuilding efforts in Tohoku and that they are getting the nuclear situation under control. Otherwise the games look like a deliberate focus shift.

Sakura Tsuchihashi
Housewife, 35 (Venezuelan)
More menus should be translated into English and more English training for staff would be a start. But really, there should be more information available in other languages. There’s Chinese and English now, but information in more languages is necessary.

Robert J. Kelley
United States Navy, 22 (American)
Foreigners aren’t aware of Japan’s complicated recycling policies. Better explanations of that — as well as more trash and recycling cans on the street — would be a good thing, I think.

Kana Suzuki
University student, 19 (Japanese)
Students and ordinary people should promote Japan. We can use social-networking services to let foreigners know good points about Japan — for example, places for sightseeing or explaining about the Japanese idea of omotenashi (hospitality).

Matt Dunn
Royal Australian Navy, 37 (Australian)
There isn’t a lot Japan has to do. The stadiums will be great and the transport is already awesome. Sometimes you might get lost when visiting smaller communities. Japan should provide more information about places outside of the cities to get tourists to visit smaller local spots.

Leza Lowitz
Yoga teacher/writer, 50 (American)
The Japanese authorities should listen to domestic and international voices about various issues in Japan, like the dolphin killing in Taiji. This is a chance for them to change or fix some of these issues and use the attention the Olympics provides to show they are doing something about them.

Interested in gathering views in your neighborhood? E-mail community@japantimes.co.jp

  • Richard Schatz

    ATM Machines that accept foreign cards and stores and railroad ticket offices that accept foreign credit cards. On a recent trip to Japan at the beginning of this month, I found myself in Nikko in the evening without any cash to get back to Tokyo by train but with my foreign credit cards. NO ATM machine near the train station would accept my foreign credit card. Fortunately I was with a Japanese person who had cash. Many shops and restaurants outside Tokyo don’t accept credit cards and this will be a real problem for tourists who don’t carry large amounts of cash.

    Richard Schatz


  • It would behoove Tokyo (and the rest of Japan) to join the rest of the civilised world and make all restaurants/bars/居酒屋 NO SMOKING. I think foreign guests (except perhaps the Chinese) will be shocked and disgusted that smoking is allowed in almost all eateries and that no-smoking sections, if present, are laughably “divided” from the smoking area.

  • ATMan

    As if you’ve never found yourself short on cash at 7:03 at the train station. It happens to everyone, especially us expats who never quite get used to the idiotic ATM schedules.

    When the entire planet has an ATM system that operates past 7PM and accepts foreign cards, there’s no reason for them whatsoever to expect Japan to be thirty years behind the times when it comes to cash machines.

    • Steve Novosel

      If you’re an expat here, you should have a local card anyway. Why not make your life easier?

      And no, the entire planet doesn’t have a 24 hour, internationally networked ATM system, either. Last I was in Brazil I had a heck of a time getting cash.

      • Christopher-trier

        Exactly! I divide my time primarily between California and Minnesota and have chequeing accounts in both states in order to avoid having to pay fees. It’s not that difficult to do.

    • Christopher-trier

      It happened to me once in Japan and it never happened again. I had to borrow 5,000 yen from a Japanese friend because I could not use my cash card anywhere. It’s part of knowing what to expect, it’s a matter of being responsible and knowing what to expect and dealing with that rather than complaining about it on a newspaper site.

      • Richard Schatz

        “It happened to me once in Japan and it never happened again”

        So then me too. Why are you acting like your so informed?
        We are not complaining we are informing.

  • Steve Novosel

    It is enforced – I have not one time been refused entry to a hotel, ryokan, or onsen in Japan. And that’s with many, many stays.

  • phu

    Great advice. If you don’t like Japan’s cash culture, go to Sweden and watch the Tokyo Olympics there. Oh… wait. Brilliant.

    No, five minutes of research (or even a reasonable amount) won’t necessarily tell you how rarely credit cards are accepted in Japan or where you need to go (and when) to use a foreign ATM card.

    You can’t and shouldn’t expect Japan to change this, I agree. However, being realistic, clearly informing people of this is the only way Japan could avoid a whole lot of frustration and negative experiences for a whole lot of foreigners who just want to watch the Olympics, not become experts on Japanese consumer commerce.

    • Christopher-trier

      You missed the point. If Japan’s cash culture is such a burden, why not go to Sweden where many places do not accept cash at all?

      One of the first things that people learn when reading an introduction to travelling in Japan is that it is a cash society with few places that accept foreign-issued cash cards. Wikitravel says that at the beginning, Japanguide says that at the beginning and virtually every travel guide to Japan says that at the beginning. So yes, a quick internet search on what to expect in Japan will hammer that point in. There is no excuse for ignorance today.
      If people cannot bother taking initiative on their own to find out what to expect in Japan and to err on the side of caution, then that is their own fault and they should not whinge about the consequences of their lack of foresight.

    • Steve Novosel

      Actually, it would take less than 5 minutes of googling to find out about credit cards and foreign ATM cards in Japan. There’s tons and tons of information on this very topic.

      These days credit cards are pretty widely accepted. Not as accepted as a lot of other places for sure (no CC at fast food or most small restaurants, for example) but hotels, trains, taxis, larger shops – all of these places accept credit cards these days.

  • Ken Gtwo

    Try being a whole hell of a lot nicer to foreign people for starters. That would require an overhaul of the education system though. Can’t do much about the older generation unfortunately. Physically things are pretty awesome already. Just the attitude. DON’T follow Yokohama’s example in 2002 of having police go around to shops asking them to close during events for fear of non-existent “hooligans”, quickly herding guests between the station and venues during matches, and generally rejecting foreign patrons (even those living in the local area). That’d be nice.

    • Richard Schatz

      Never had an attitude problem in Japan. I live in Paris so for me the Japanese are like service gods compared to the French.

  • Richard Schatz

    There sure is if you’ve been spending it all day on temple entrance fees and gifts and restaurants…PS..; sorry but no 7 – 11 in Nikko that I found. I live in France where ATMs are practically on every corner of the street. (never carry cash in france unless you want to get ripped off) Last visit to Japan in 2006 I had to go to citbank in Roppongi to get cash from and ATM. In Korea on the same trip last month everywhere accepted credit cards. It’s the law.