The Travel Journal #2 – April 18th, 2017

Enoden line train approaching

Hello, and welcome to this week’s Travel Journal!

News

  • There are well designed, easy to use websites, and there are not so well designed ones. Odakyu Electric Railways recently launched two very well designed English webpages dedicated to Muslim tourist going to Hakone and Enoshima areas. IMO, they stand as great examples of how English info sites for Japanese companies should be designed.
  • In view of the influx of foreign travelers into Nikko and surrounding area, Tobu Railway had stepped up their service at Tobu Nikko Station: expanding the in-station tourist center, with English speaking staff on duty at all times, and free wifi. Also, to support the Japan Hands Free Travel scheme from Japan National Tourism Organization, a luggage delivery counter had been set up as well, for delivery of luggage from the train station to ryokan of your choice in the area. The counter will also provide same day luggage storage for 700-900 yen per piece (Source translated / press release translated).
  • JR East had announced plans for replacing E4 series trains of Jōetsu Shinkansen (between  Tokyo to Niigata) with Hokuriku Shinkansen’s E7 series. Since both lines are operated by JR East, my speculations on this change would be placing common trains on the services for easier train resource management, as well as lowering maintenance cost. While for passengers there will be no more double decker Shinkansen, E7 will bring it’s own special: the luxurious Gran Class (also available on Hokuriku and Hokkaido Shinkansen), AC plugs and LED lighting on all seats for all classes, and 100 more seats. This replacement will start from 2018, and complete by 2020, just in time for the Olympics. (Source translated)

 

A few thoughts about English websites in Japan

In this week’s material, there are example of very well prepared English travel material, and there are not so well thought-out material.

I am deeply impressed by Odakyu’s efforts in making travel information easy to digest and friendly. On the other hand, Tobu’s decision to announce an English speaker-friendly tourist center in a Japanese press release baffles me. There’s no info on their English site. It makes me wonder, why bother to have English speaking staff in a tourist center, when no English speaking people would know such service exists? Or a multi-language ticket machine for nearby tourist spots?

With Tokyo Olympics coming up in three years, there’s a lot of adjustments coming up for Japan. Language will be a major issue for the society to tackle. Some companies are putting real efforts in making information open and transparent, while the rest are lagging behind. I hope they won’t be overwhelmed when 2020 come up.

 

That’s it for now. See you in the next issue~

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