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No swimsuits | Courtesy of Morioka Regional Development Bureau
No swimsuits | Courtesy of Morioka Regional Development Bureau

These Japanese Signs Help Tourists Break The Language Barrier, and They're Hilarious

Picture of Dave Afshar
Updated: 25 April 2017

Outside of its more cosmopolitan cities like Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan isn’t always easy on tourists. Signs and menus are often written in Japanese only, social cues can be difficult to pick up on, and the language barrier is all too real. Luckily, the municipal government in the northern prefecture of Iwate has taken the initiative to make Japan a little more forgiving on hapless tourists in a campaign called “10 ways to make travelers happy”.

Since last April, the Morioka Regional Development Bureau has encouraged local business owners to display these hilariously foolproof signs and symbols in their shops and on their menus. The signs, many of which were created by design students, are primarily used at restaurants, hot springs, hotels, and other establishments that may have foreign visitors feeling a bit bewildered. Informative as they are charming, the campaign has so far been well received by travelers and seems to have achieved the aim of making Iwate feel more welcoming to its guests. Take a look at more of the new signs below.


At the hot spring

This may seem obvious, but you are not supposed to imbibe while bathing in a public bath. Do as the locals do and buy a can of beer at a convenience store to be enjoyed on your walk home.

Don’t be that guy who brings the half the bathwater with him to the locker room. They give you towels for a reason, so use them.


Naked samurai thanks you for your cooperation.

At a restaurant

No matter what country you’re from, when someone throws several of something in your face, it usually means the answer is “no”.

If you order this dish, you are responsible for the death of this adorable little piglet.

This sign means you have decided to take the humane route and let the piglet live. Enjoy your dinner of tofu and leaves.

While samurai don’t actually have the ability to breathe fire, this guy is here to warn you the meal you’re about to order might make you feel like you just did.

Hey, you asked for it. What better way to impress a date?