Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The answers to your questions

Japan can be confusing. Fascinating but confusing. And there is an Olympics at the end of the Super Mario tunnel. So the question has been raised, for quite some time now, as to exactly how will the country accommodate an international influx which is largely unlikely to speak very much of the local language and who understand even less of the landscape around them. In truth, this isn't an Olympics question though; twenty million tourists poured through Japan's doors in the last twelve months. The issue is not four years in the future, it's very much front and centre here today.

And so how do you find your way through a country and culture that is so fundamentally different from so many others. People here don't, on the whole, speak a lot of English. Nor are they too concerned about it either. Japan has done pretty well for itself without the assistance of the Bard. Though there are chinks in the armour; ask a taxi driver a question and he may well whip out his cheat sheet and ask you to point to the question your asking. Or as mine recently did, he may well tell you the cheat sheet is in the boot. Rome was not built in a day.

But with the advent of Pokemon Go! the world is a rapidly changing place. Augmented Reality allows the user to hold up their phone and read road signs in the language of their choosing. The boat may have been missed in traditional terms as to integrating an in-bound diaspora but teaching children to speak English is only one arrow in the quiver of fascinated interest. There are some very clever people out there who can answer the simplest of questions "what shall I do tonight?" and not a human voice is raised in answer. Our world is changing and the answer is at your fingertips. Literally.

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