The first official Japanese guide to Scotland has some novel suggestions for tourists visiting the country for the first time. It advises Japanese visitors to avoid council estates and people wearing football shirts, not to wear business suits while sightseeing or call kilts “skirts”. It also recommends they try out Mackie’s honeycomb ice-cream and ginger marmalade, but give Lorne sausages a miss.
Written in Japanese and published by Edinburgh-based Luath Press, The Insider’s Guide to Scotland is the only Scottish guidebook in Japanese compiled official guides.
One of its authors, Akiko Elliot, said: “I believe more Japanese will find the nature and culture of Scotland interesting and fascinating.
“Until now the emphasis of Scottish tourism to Japanese was on visiting famous historical sites or playing golf, but younger people are also showing a keen interest.”
There is advice on how to buy drinks at pub, which explains the custom of buying a round and suggests visitors should have a kitty when going out in a group. However, the guide also advises Japanese tourists to lower their expectations of Scotland’s service economy.
“Please do not expect to have the same quick, polite and accurate service here to compare with Japanese service at shops, restaurants and hotels,” it says. “Be patient everywhere in Scotland. It is not Japan!”
However it also tells Japanese visitors to mind their table manners. “If you make a noise having a bowl of soup at the restaurant, please do not have it,” the guide advises.
And it also reminds travellers not to make the ultimate faux-pas, warning: “Never call them ‘English’.”
There is also a section devoted to explaining why many Scots do not carry umbrellas – something that mystifies Japanese travellers. “When it rains, it seems only a handful of people use umbrellas in Scotland,” it says. “That puzzles Japanese quite a lot because in Japan people would carry umbrellas all the time or leave the spare ones at the office for sudden showers.”
Visitors are also recommended to get “merrily drunk”, visit whisky distilleries, sample Irn-Bru and use the word “aye”, which means “love” in Japanese.
Another author, Misako Udo, said: “I think many Japanese want to visit Scotland, but not many Japanese tour companies offer Scottish tours.”
Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, who wrote a foreword to the book, said: “This book offers another chance for deepening our friendship and helping Japanese people understand our unique Scottish culture.”