How to Travel in Japan Without Speaking Japanese

Godzilla captured the attention of an eight-year-old English lad named Rob Dyer. “A history buff like Dad,” from a young age Rob was an avid reader of books about Asia.

A business trip brought Rob as a young man to Tokyo in 2000.  He enjoyed the tourist sights. Still, he desired to learn about the Japan beyond the clichés of Japanese manga, geisha and Godzilla. In 2015 after countless trips, Rob established The Real Japan. The web site was a way to introduce foreigners to the heart of Japan.

Over a Skype chat about Rob’s latest e-book, How to Travel in Japan Without Speaking Japanese, he made the point that Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara – all the typical tourist spots – are terrific. And there are rich experiences to be enjoyed in other Japanese towns.

When asked about the title of his guide to Japan, Rob mentioned that most foreigners’ greatest concern is the language barrier. Rob’s insight stumbled me back in time. Yes! Despite the apps, even the most macho of acquaintances will ask, “How easy is it to travel in Japan if you don’t speak the language?”

After a trip to Japan, my husband will inevitably tell friends of his appreciation of my Japanese language ability. I always thought he was just being sweet. After all train signs are in English. Plus the Japanese are probably the most welcoming and helpful hosts on the planet. Now I’ve got a better answer for those wanting to travel in Japan for the first time: Buy How to Travel in Japan Without Speaking Japanese by Rob Dyer.1

By the way, Rob married his longtime Japanese pen pal in a Shinto ceremony. Half of the year, Rob and his bride reside in England. They live in the town of Kent, which produces 90 percent of England’s cherries. The other 6 months are spent in Japan - the country famous for cherry blossoms. And a place Rob Dyer continues to explore and share his findings of living beyond the clichés.

Tips from Rob:

  • Travel off-season 

Sado Island is traditional Japanese taiko drumming central; Rob was rewarded with a semi-private lesson from a master for traveling in November.

  • Make a list of what you want out of your trip

Do you want to go hopping amongst the over 6,000 islands?Or cuddle with a cat or hedgehog in a cafe?

  • Watch the body language – honor space – no touchy feely

Westerners sometimes are easy with their embrace. It’s a great attribute but doesn’t translate too well with a highly private Japanese population.

Wishing you wonderous adventures in Japan! 

***All photos courtesy of Rob Dyer, The Real Japan and you can read more about How to Travel in Japan Without Speaking Japanese here.

1. Note: I'm not getting paid to promote this book...It's that good!

The Ninja Baker

© ™ Watkinson 2012

The Ninja Baker has guest blogged and contributed recipes to numerous food sites. These additional recipes can be found here.



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