Valuable New Resources for Wordsmiths!    Buried Treasure at the JTA Signage Project Website

Signage, websites, and other information in English about tourist sites around Japan is being prepared by professionals in a project sponsored by the Japan Tourism Agency. While this is welcome news for tourists, the exciting point for wordsmiths is that the style guide and other resources are now available online.

“Promoting Multilingual Support for Sightseeing Destinations around Japan” began in 2018 and is about to enter its third year in FY2020. On April 24, the FY2019 results of the project were quietly posted on the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism website. We can now see for ourselves what the project has produced. The website information is all in Japanese, but the English texts the JTA has provided tourist sites around the country are there for reference and inspection.

Also posted is the Writing and Style Manual: English for Sightseeing Destinations Around Japan, in both English and Japanese editions, which was developed to guide the project. The initial 2018 version was greatly expanded in FY2019, and will continue to be improved and further expanded during FY2020. It is already a useful adaptation for tourist information of long-established writing and style rules based on the Chicago Manual of Style, the Japan Style Sheet, and the Monumenta Nipponica Style Sheet.

Translators and editors working with local tourist sites everywhere may avail themselves of the JTA-approved Writing and Style Manual, whose Japanese edition provides them and their clients the guidelines that may facilitate their bilingual endeavors.

Many SWET members and their friends, colleagues, and associates have been among the dozens of professional writers and editors, content advisors (naiyo kanshusha), and supervisory copyeditors (sutairu kanshusha), as well as experienced directors, proofreaders, and others whose time and expertise have been mobilized for this landmark project. In FY2019, a total of 3,117 texts were written, checked, edited, proofread, translated into Japanese for local site committee checking, edited again, copyedited, polished, and proofread again for 106 tourist sites from Hokkaido to Okinawa and the Ogasawara islands.

The English texts were prepared by six text production companies hired under the management of the Toppan Insatsu printing company, which was contracted for FY2019 (and also for FY2020) to run the project. It may take a while for the impact of the project to be felt, as signs must be made, websites designed and opened, pamphlets printed, and the audio guides recorded. But the local sightseeing committees for the sites that applied for participation in the project can now get on with next step. And we can only hope that the silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic will be that they have time to do it carefully and well, seeking professional help for design and layout, and investing wisely in the future when overseas visitors will be able to enjoy sightseeing in Japan with informative and well-written information at their fingertips.

              (Reported by Lynne E. Riggs and Lisa Wilcut)

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