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Travel News Pictograms to help foreign patrons in restaurants

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Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
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Very useful for foreign travellers and definitely more intuitive than kanji:

Restaurants deploy pictograms to help foreign and Muslim patrons, and those with food allergies

With tourism booming, pictograms have become an important tool for restaurants eager to describe the ingredients they use to customers whose allergies or religious beliefs require them to avoid certain foods. While visitors from overseas spent ¥4.4 trillion ($39.7 billion) in Japan last year, the tourism and restaurant industries believe there is potential for further growth if visitors can be made to feel more comfortable when dining.

In early April at a buffet-style restaurant in a hotel in bustling Osaka, foreign customers could be seen looking at pictograms indicating the ingredients used in popular meals such as roast beef and steamed fish in wine sauce. The 14 icons — including cow, pig, peanut and wheat symbols — were developed by Foodpict Inc. based on a survey of 1,500 foreign and Japanese people. They are being used at around 1,400 eateries across the nation.

“They are popular among foreigners who don’t understand the Japanese language as well as Japanese people who have food allergies,” Foodpict President Nobutaka Kikuchi said. The Kobe-based company also runs a website where users can use the pictograms to search for restaurants offering suitable dishes. [...]

Source: Restaurants deploy pictograms to help foreign and Muslim patrons, and those with food allergies | The Japan Times

Links: 株式会社フードピクト|世界品質のおいしい絵文字



Pictures: FoodPict Inc

nice gaijin

Resident Realist
8 Aug 2005
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definitely helpful for those with food restrictions and allergies. It's a common request to ask how to explain an allergy at a restaurant, this helps the restaurants be proactive in supporting different needs. One of those omotenashi moments when you look at the menu and go "oh! cool"


5 Feb 2015
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I had a hard time trying to figure out what was on the plates whose pictures were shown in the windows of the many restaurants. Usually the names are only in kanji.
How come restaurants are not more helpfull for tourists ?

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