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Goin’ Japanesque!

Omotenashi Guide: An Innovative App for Non-Japanese Speakers

Have you ever wished that you could understand the service announcements during your travels in Japan, at the airport and station, shopping malls etc? It was apparent that if such announcements in public places were translated to many languages that the convenience factor would be increased. The reality in Japan was that there were many challenges of time and cost that no one really stepped forward with the activation. However, there is an innovative project that Japan’s world famous instrument manufacture Yamaha is proactively working on. 


What is the Omotenashi (Hospitality) Guide

It is a voice-recognized real-time translation app developed by Yamaha. The mic on the smartphone picks up sounds of Japanese spoken through speakers in public areas, and then transcribes it on the user’s smartphone screen as text in different languages.


Characteristics of the Omotenashi Guide

  • Compatible for both types of announcements: automated and live voice
  • It can be used off-line so once the app is installed, visitors from overseas who do not have internet service in Japan can use it. It can also be used in underground subways.
  • Even in the middle of an announcement, if it can collect the sound for about 1-2 seconds in length, it can transcribe the sounds as text
  • It can translate announcements that have not prepared in advance; thus can play a big part during emergencies, disasters etc. It excels in compliancy and safety.
  • The translation shows up as text only for the user that requires it. So there is no worry of people not needing this service being disturbed by its sounds or those of unwanted languages reaching the ears of other people.
  • The usage is not limited to translation, but can be used when you miss an announcement as it can show up on your smartphone screen (Currently being developed and improved)


Users Who Will Benefit from This App

  • Tourists and Visitors from Overseas Who Are Visiting Japan but do not Understand Japanese
  • Hearing Impaired
  • Elderly individuals who are Hard of Hearing


Facilities Expected to Have this Installed


  • Various airports (Haneda Airport, Narita Airport, Kansai International Airport)
  • Large scale shopping malls (Aeon Mall, Takashimaya, etc)
  • Traffic infrastructure facilities (Railway, Buses)
  • Attraction facilities (Sanrio Puro Land etc)
  • In the city (Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, mainly metropolitan areas)

Verification tests are proactively being conducted and the Omotenashi Guide is well on its way to being realized. It should for sure, come well in handy at the Tokyo Olympics scheduled for 2020. Download the app packed with Japan’s most leading technology here.

Related: 23 Japanese Map Symbols to Know and New Ones for Foreigners

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