Written by the Morioka Regional Development Bureau of the Iwate Prefectural Government, and translated by Amanda Wayama.

“What the heck is that? Is that…a picture of a samurai washing his head with a crab?!”

At a glance, this picture might get a double-take or two, but this is one of the pictograms developed by the Iwate government for foreign guests. (The pictogram project was overseen by Ryosuke Murao, cultural ambassador of Iwate and also director of the KENNAN LEGEND RUNNERS project)

*A pictogram is a drawing or picture that can be used to convey information without words.

This particular pictogram is used at hot springs bath facilities to show people who can’t read Japanese how to use the baths. We have a lot more pictograms, some wackier than others, which has led to this project being reported on abroad.

We expect the arrival of many foreign guests thanks to events like the Rugby World Cup 2019tm and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games, and even more should the ILC become a reality. Our dream is for our visitors to become Iwate Fans, and with that in mind, we’ve put together these 10 tips for local businesses and residents to welcome our guests. We call it “Ten Ways to Make Travelers Happy” (and the pictograms are just one of those ways!).

Ten Ways to Make Travelers Happy

  1. Use pictures, not words
  2. Tell guests that they are welcome
  3. Strike up a conversation
  4. Take photos both vertically and horizontally (when people ask you to take their photo)
  5. Take photos together
  6. Personally guide guests to where they need to go (when you can)
  7. Do your utmost (to explain everything a guest might not know, etc)
  8. Write it down
  9. Help people with their luggage
  10. Thank the world

We’ll talk about a couple of those ways below.

  1. Use pictures, not words

We now have 104 types of pictograms (including those made for the Rugby World Cup 2019 that was held in Kamaishi on our southern coast).

Each pictogram is designed to make you laugh. Even those who can’t speak Japanese can use these pictograms to understand their surroundings.

Here are some actually being used at public facilities and restaurants!


Here are some more pictograms!


  1. Tell guests that they are welcome

We’ve created these stickers to let foreign guests know that they are welcome. We have two motifs: Mount Iwate, and the Sanriku sea. Just like Japanese people love whenever they find kanji characters abroad, we hope that by applying these stickers to the doors of stores, restaurants, and other public places, it lets foreign people know at a glance that they are welcome. If you see one of these stickers, please come on inside!


Just like these examples, all of the Ten Ways are devised to show off how easy it is for anyone to show off that classic sense of Iwate hospitality.

There are other tips like, “If you’re asked for directions, take them directly there,” and “Do your utmost (use gestures, etc) to show how to eat Japanese food (if someone doesn’t know how).”

Anyone would feel nervous when travelling abroad, to a place they’re never been before, with a different language and culture. If a local kindly reaches out to you when you need help, you’ll feel much more at ease.

We hope that by putting our foreign guests at ease, you’ll see how great Iwate is and how kind our people are, and you’ll want to come visit us again.

  1. Thank the world

The last item on the list is to thank the world. We received so much support from the entire world after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami that struck on March 11, 2011.

We will keep thanking you all for your kindness in our time of need!


Ten Ways to Make Travelers Happy

URL: http://www5.pref.iwate.jp/~hp1010/(homepage)


Ten Ways to Make Travelers Happy (Rugby World Cup edition)

URL: https://www.rugby-iwate.kamaishi.pref.iwate.jp/10t/index.html(homepage)

*This article uses pictures from the above homepages.

*For more details, please check our homepage and Facebook.







ラクビーワールドカップ、東京オリンピック・パラリンピック、ILC誘致などを通じて、たくさんの外国人の来県が見込まれています。岩手を訪れた方々に“いわてのファン”になってほしいという想いを込め、喜ばれるおもてなしのポイントを10の方法でまとめました。それが、「いわての10手」です。ピクトグラムは「いわての10手」の1つです。(1 文字よりも絵で示そう)


1 文字よりも絵で示そう
2 「ようこそ」を表現しよう
3 自分から話しかけよう
4 写真はタテ・ヨコ両方で
5 一緒に写真に収まろう
6 基本は「そこまで一緒に」
7 一所懸命さを伝えよう
8 何かに書いてあげよう
9 荷物を手伝ってあげよう
10 世界にお礼を伝えよう

1 文字よりも絵で示そう




2 「ようこそ」を表現しよう



10 世界にお礼を伝えよう