|Above, the business district near Tokyo Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Times have certainly changed in 40 years for foreign visitors to Japan.
This fact is driven home in a new article by Kathy Kemper, Founder and CEO of the Institute of Education in The Huffington Post.
She begins her article with:
In the late 1970s, I was part of the woman's pro tennis tour playing exhibition games throughout Japan. In many places, children would touch my freckles to see if they came off. They wanted to touch my blond hair because they'd never seen it in real life.
Margaret Court was among the players with us, and many of the people we met were amazed that anyone could be so tall.
How things have changed. Today, Japan is a major destination for tourists from around the world. A cheaper yen, more signs posted in English and websites with a wealth of advice make travel easier. And as Tokyo prepares to host the 2020 Olympics, a government campaign is putting out the welcome mat.
Foreign visitors now exceed 10 million a year, compared to 8.3 million in 2008. The government's goal is 20 million by 2020.
This means many more people are now discovering, as I have, a land of delightful surprises--a place of mystery and strong traditions with kind and polite people.
To read more, go here.