Chinese tourists get a bad rap abroad, but is their reputation a little exaggerated? Last year, the Japanese island of Hokkaido released a Chinese-language tourism etiquette leaflet designed to explain the dos and don'ts of Japanese culture. The leaflet, produced by the Hokkaido Tourism Organization and published in August, placed large red "X" marks over unwanted behavior, including violations of bathroom etiquette and making noise in swimming areas.
Not everyone was pleased with the leaflet, however. Some local residents complained, suggesting that it was condescending, and soon the Hokkaido Tourism Organization itself admitted that the leaflet was "one-sided" and would be replaced, Kyodo news agency reports.
Now Hokkaido has released a new leaflet, which removes the "X" marks and attempts to strike a more understanding tone. However, it still contains some remarkable advice that may strike many people as common sense. This leaflet has been translated into English, so you can see some of the highlights from the leaflet yourself here.
Among the words of advice in the new leaflet is a warning against flatulence in a public space:
Japanese etiquette is based on avoiding causing discomfort or nuisance to others. Accordingly, Japanese will avoid bodily functions such as belching or flatulence in public entirely, or perform bodily functions as discreetly as possible. Of course, these functions are a necessary part of human life, but please be modest and discreet when visiting Japan.
Another part of the leaflet explains that some objects in hotel rooms, including kettles and hair dryers, should not be taken home:
Of the items provided at your accommodation, you may generally take home disposable or consumable items such as soap, shampoo and razors. However, please do not remove other items such as cutlery, dishes, kettles, hair dryers or the like from your guest room — taking such items is considered theft.
And the leaflet also has some helpful bathroom etiquette:
The Japanese pursuit of cleanliness includes using the toilet. It’s common courtesy to make sure that you don’t dirty the toilet or washroom. Japanese toilet paper is water-soluble and designed to be flushed down the toilet. Please place the paper in the toilet bowl before you flush. If you’ve soiled the toilet, please be considerate of others and wipe it clean.
Again, not everyone is so sure that the new advice is needed. The BBC cites one Chinese social media user who writes: "Our countrymen need to teach the Japanese people etiquette."
But many Chinese citizens have their own concerns about the behavior of Chinese tourists abroad as well. The Chinese government actually keeps a public list of Chinese tourists and their "uncivilized behavior" when traveling abroad. There are currently 16 names on the list — infractions include brawling on airplanes and punching Japanese convenience store clerks.
Despite Japan and China's regional rivalry, the countries have a strong trade relationship, and tourism is becoming an increasingly important part of it. Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, has become a popular spot for tourists after the 2008 release of the Chinese movie "If You Are the One," which showcased the area's natural beauty. The Japan Tourism Agency has estimated that Chinese tourists are the biggest spenders among the country's tourists, spending roughly a quarter of the $17 billion total brought in by foreigners — or about $2,000 per tourist.
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