“Pork Inside” and “Super Spicy” are some of the signs you might see while visiting the city of Morioka, the capital of Iwate Prefecture, as part of a local initiative called, “10 Ways to Make Travelers Happy.” Accompanied by quirky renderings, the signs are meant as helpful tips for visitors.
Not as high up on the tourist radar as cities like Tokyo or Kyoto, Iwate Prefecture may soon be experiencing an influx of visitation thanks to the 2019 Rugby World Cup (it’ll be hosted in Kamaishi, also in Iwate Prefecture). The region is also home to cherry blossoms that bloom in the spring, another tourist draw.
The city and local business owners worry that in the past, foreigners may have been made to feel unwelcome in the region due to language barriers. To accommodate, the Morioka Municipal Government is asking businesses to post the useful signs, including ones that read “We Welcome Tourists.” You can expect to spot them primarily at inns, hotels, and hot springs. Taxi drivers (there are 800 in the city) have also been asked to display “tourist-friendly” signage.
Local author and consultant Ryusuke Murao, who worked with the city on the campaign (his students are responsible for some of the designs), says its goal is to strengthen foreign ties and comes in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami that caused wreckage to the Tohoku region in 2011. Murao’s concept also aims to thank visitors for their support.