Foreign Tourists Love Japanese Budget Gourmet

A recent government survey found that foreign tourists picked food as one of their top reasons for visiting Japan, so Fuji TV news did some investigation into the story. Here’s a report that aired earlier this week:

A short summary of the video’s contents:

  • The report begins with scenes of volunteers cleaning up the streets of Akihabara to prepare for this month’s Yokoso Japan Weeks tourism promotion. One foreigner is among them, supposedly a tourist from Sweden.
  • Contrary to the image of foreign tourists visiting high quality expensive Japanese restaurants, most actually prefer to eat at “B-class gourmet” places. Tourist information offices are often asked by visiting foreigners to recommend the kind of inexpensive restaurants the locals regularly frequent, and the tourists seem perfectly happy eating what Japanese people would consider normal.
  • Many tourist offices have prepared maps and information hand-outs with the locations of fast food places. (One map shown is a guide to rotating sushi restaurants in the area.)
  • One French guy really wanted to try a bento because he had seen them eaten in anime. He thought it was very good.
  • The Howard family from Australia tries and enjoys a ramen place.
  • 2007’s biggest increases in foreign tourism came from Asia (up 21.2%) and Europe (up 16.0%). The strength of the euro against the yen is cited as one reason why there was such a large increase in European tourists. [According to the Big Mac price index, French Big Macs are over doubled the price of Japanese Big Macs!]

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January 2008
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