The Hokkaido Tourism Organization, which represents Japan’s northern-most island, published a downloadable brochure on their website, with polite instructions on everything from public bathing to using a Japanese toilet. They even dedicated an entire section to protocol for avoiding bodily functions – public “belching or flatulence”. Or if that is not avoidable, to do them as discreetly as possible.
“Japanese etiquette is based on avoiding causing discomfort or nuisance to others,” the guide points out.
Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that the Chinese-language guide – originally entitled “Common Sense When Travelling in Hokkaido” – upset a Chinese resident who angrily claimed the diagrams featuring examples of bad tourist behavior were offensive.
The complaint prompted a new, foreigner-friendly version with softer explanations of Japanese customs.
In the updated guide available in Chinese and English, gone are the large ‘X’-marks next to cartoon illustrations of tourists committing from a Japanese perspective, embarrassing gaffes, such as putting used toilet paper into the waste bin – the general custom in China – instead of flushing it away.
According to The Japan Times newspaper, the original booklet was first published last August and was targeted at Chinese tourists, including a reminder not to open products before buying them when shopping – a habit also seen in China.
Already, China has said it will monitor the behavior of their unruly tourists abroad and punish them on their return home after being shamed by a string of well-publicized incidents.
Reports of disruptive behavior have tarnished the country’s reputation, such as passengers scalding a flight attendant with hot water and noodles or a holidaymaker fined in Thailand for washing her feet in the washbasin of a public toilet.
In any case, the Chinese tourist dollar is very much-welcomed. Research by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that more than 100 million Chinese tourists went abroad in 2014, spending some $164 billion (RM639 billion).