We went to Shunan City for the 3rd time to conduct the last part of the seminar. The participants are interested to promote their city in order to attract more tourists. We already knew many participants from last time. This time, we were happy to welcome some new people.
Mizu-san and Hiro-san talked in detail about the App “Voice Tra”. “Voice Tra” is a free speech translation-app that translates a speech into various languages. Last time, Mizu-san and Hiro-san talked briefly about the advantages of using the app. This time, we, the interns, used this app to communicate with the participants. We asked some common tourist-questions in English and German and they answered in Japanese. Everyone was surprised to see how well the app works. However, the app produces accurate and error-free translation only when the speech is clear, simple and rather short. Therefore, it’s a very useful tool for tourists to simply communicate with Japanese people and vice versa.
Mizu-san also wanted to increase the awareness of the participants concerning misunderstandings between foreigners and Japanese people based on the language barrier. She listed some “Japanese-English” expressions, that foreigners might not understand (like Konbini or OL) and expressions that have completely different meanings for English speakers, for example “konsento”, which means “socket” but it can be understood as “consent” by English speakers. Other mistaken interpretations are “tension” (used by Japanese to describe excitement), “claim” (used by Japanese for complaining), “service” (understood by Japanese as something free of charge), “surprise” (used by Japanese instead of impressed, amazed etc.).
The participants also learned some useful and appreciatory English expressions and about foreign dress-codes. They were also informed about communication tips for tour guides and no-go questions in first meetings (like age, marital status).
Hiro-san conducted a workshop and gave each team a task. Each team had to come up with a tour plan for their specific target group. One team made a tour plan for young people from Hong-Kong, who want to visit Instagram-spots, enjoy good food and Onsen. Another team created a tour plan for a middle-aged couple from Europe, who want to learn about Japanese culture and traditions. I was with the group who drafted a train journey with activities for 4th generation of Japanese-Americans who have a JR-Pass. And Diana helped the group, who came up with a tour plan for foreign engineers, who are interested in the production of Shinkansen trains.
In conclusion, the seminar was very informative and interesting for the participants. We hope that we were able to give them valuable tips to promote their city and that they see the big picture.