Takehiko Fujita wouldn't be able to do his job selling eye drops and pain relievers without his pocket translator.
Instead of an app, language dictionary or call-in translation service, the clerk at a Japanese drugstore uses Pocketalk, a ¥25,000 device made by Sourcenext Corp. that looks like an oval puck. The gadget translates phrases to and from 74 languages, helping Fujita communicate with customers from around the world.
Tourists are flooding into Japan, with 31 million people visiting the archipelago in 2018, triple the number six years earlier, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. Businesses are struggling with visitors looking to shop, eat and move around — a situation that will probably worsen during next year's Tokyo Olympics. Seeking to tap into demand, electronics maker Fujitsu Ltd. and office supplier King Jim Co. are challenging Pocketalk's 94 percent market share with their own products.