Is Knowledge of English Enough for Eco-Tourism in Japan?

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Japan is strongly associated in many people’s minds with high-tech and super-innovative megapolises. But is that all about Japan? Definitely, not! The country has recently launched a new direction in tourism – eco-tourism – which enables newcomers to discover Japan from an entirely new perspective. Learn the nuts and bolts of eco-tourism in Japan here and get ready for a safe, pleasant travel with our recommendations.

Eco-Tourism in Japan – a New Land to Discover

At present, tourists who wish to stay in Japan in a sustainable and eco-friendly way may enjoy trips to hot springs, shrines and temples, involve in river rafting, mountain climbing and hiking, as well as snorkeling and scuba diving. Though eco-tourism starts gaining popularity only now, it emerged 20 years ago in Japan, as soon as the Japan Eco Tourism Society was founded to promote safe, responsible travel. The JES’s aims include:

  • Promotion of eco-tourism in Japan
  • Stimulation of local economy
  • Social contribution to the environment and culture with the help of tourism.

JES also collaborates with the Japanese national forest office Erinsho to conserve environmentally sensitive areas and restrict tours to those places. JES employees organize regular river cleaning activities and hold volunteer events to involve both residents and tourists in sustainable, responsible environmental practices.

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Minimum Language Skills for Safe Travel

For those who are concerned about their safety and fear to get lost in a distant, unknown country, it is strongly recommended to learn some Japanese before travel. The reasons for this are numerous:

  • You will find it easier and more rewarding to communicate with native speakers.
  • You will be able to get acquainted with the authentic culture and learn new words, which is generally impossible if you don’t know any Japanese.
  • You will be able to train authentic Japanese when being immersed in the local culture and community. If you studied Japanese before, this will be an immensely useful language practice.

No matter how you study Japanese – alone via the Internet channels or with skilled tutors of some online platform, such as Preply, your efforts will definitely be rewarded when in Japan. Locals are always friendlier to those knowing their language, and you won’t ever get lost or misunderstood in a strange setting.

So, which words should you know at minimum to feel comfortable in Japan? Here is a list to cover first of all:

  1. Learning numbers. This will make it easier for you to find out the date and time, the number of your hotel room, the number of the platform from which your train/bus departs, etc. In other words, numbers will give you the basic opportunity to navigate in an unknown place by knowing the date, time, and other essential numbers.
  2. Learning directions. Even if you can ask where to go in English, and the person understands you, there is no guarantee that he/she can respond in English as well. So, knowing such words as “right,” “left,” “upwards,” “downwards,” “forward,” “backward,” etc. can save you from much trouble if you are occasionally lost.
  3. Mastering questions. In terms of basic interactions with the Japanese locals, you might need such words as “where,” “when,” “how much,” and “who.” It’s crucial to learn these fundamentals to get what you need in Japan.

Additional things to know include colors, praise (for instance, you can praise the food you have been served in a café or when being in someone’s house as a guest), polite words like “thank you” and “please.” Knowing these few simple words in Japanese will definitely contribute to your having a much better travel experience.

Is It OK to Travel without Knowledge of Japanese?

Yes, totally. You can never bother to learn even a couple of Japanese words and still find it great to travel across Japan, especially if you visit only large, developed cities. In such locations, many people know English and will be friendly to you. However, traveling to rural areas is impossible without English, and you should stay away from such locations without basic understanding of the local language. Moreover, we recommend to master some Japanese etiquette basics; it will be a good sign of respect and effort of a positive cultural interaction that locals will appreciate.


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