Skip to content

Government Grants

I have recently completed some more translation for another jinja as part of my work for Jinja Honchō. This one was a rush job, because the jinja had received a grant from the local government to renovate their toilets, and one condition was that they provide informational signs in four foreign languages: English, Korean, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese. They were getting a bit close to the deadline.

This is interesting for two reasons. First, the local government gave a religious corporation a grant to do something. I am guessing that this has been judged legally OK because (a) the toilets are open to anyone passing by and (b) using them is not a religious activity.

Second, the multilingual signs were a condition of the grant. The choice of languages makes it clear that this is aimed at visitors, not residents, which means that this is part of the local policy to make things easier for tourists. This is something that I think has improved a lot in Japan while I’ve been here. The Japanese have been very happy to see tourists, and very welcoming, for at least twenty years, but the practical facilities to make it easier for visitors have improved a lot recently. That was initially for the Olympics, but Japan still wants to attract more tourists, so it is ongoing.

I don’t know how many tourists will make it to this jinja, but if they do, there will be multilingual signs waiting for them. That, I think, is also part of the strategy: make it easier for foreign tourists to visit places other than Tokyo and Kyoto, in the hope of relieving some of the pressure on those areas.

I have a Patreon, where people join as paid members to receive an in-depth essay on some aspect of Shinto every month, or as free members to receive notifications of updates to this blog. If that sounds interesting to you, please take a look.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.