National

Find your 'dwarf' at the 'Forgotten Center'?: Japan calls for fix to odd translations amid tourist influx

Kyodo

“Forgotten Center” instead of “Lost and Found” is just one of the mistranslations discovered on websites that may puzzle foreign tourists in Japan, the government said Wednesday, urging the operators to fix such problems as soon as possible.

With the country readying itself for a further influx of foreign visitors ahead of next year’s Olympics, the Japan Tourism Agency conducted a survey between February and March examining a total of 85 websites by train and bus operators as well as transportation signs in towns.

Peculiar English words were found on websites that rely on automated translations, with problematic examples including the use of “dwarf” for “children” and “release place” for “ticket machines.”

The agency also found that translations of some sentences were confusing or incomprehensible, with examples including “what happens to the children fare from what age?”

The machine-aided system also did unnecessary translations of the names of train stations on some websites, making it difficult for non-Japanese speakers to comprehend, the agency said.

Of the 85 websites, 70 offered explanations in English, Korean and Chinese, it added.

Unnatural direct translations and mistranslations from Japanese sometimes crop up in the news and on social media.

The operator of the Osaka subway system recently drew global attention when its English websites carried a number of odd translations for train lines and stations as a result of automatic translations that went unchecked. The Sakaisuji Line was translated as the “Sakai muscle” line. The Japanese word “suji” in the name means street, but the kanji character can also mean “muscle.” Travelers were also amused to find stations called “Powerhouse Town” (Daikokucho) and “World Teahouse” (Tengachaya), among others.

The survey also covered the quality of signs in and around stations on 80 routes, discovering instructions in foreign languages that were printed too small and a lack of information about exactly which line would take tourists to their destinations.

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