Previously visitors who came from overseas to holiday in Muroto were few, and foreign language signage was also scarce. However, since Muroto was recognized as a member of the Global Geopark Network, the number of foreign visitors has slowly been increasing.
In response to this, the local hospitality industry and the Muroto Geopark Promotion Committee began cooperating on a project that started in December of 2013 to produce easily-understood signage in several languages. The purpose of this project was to ensure visitors’ peace of mind during their stay, allowing for further enjoyment of the blessings of Muroto Global Geopark. At the same time, accommodation facilities and eating establishments were aiming to avoid confusion and ensure that they can provide satisfying service to their customers.
At the start, we discussed what signage was of the highest priority. There was a consensus that it was important to have information clearly stating what actions need to be taken in the event of a disaster, and it was decided that this is where the project would begin.
There are major earthquakes in Muroto every 100 to 150 years. These earthquakes also trigger tsunamis. The earthquakes are caused by the subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate beneath the Eurasian Plate taking place at the Nankai Trough, around 140km out to sea. Earthquakes occur when the built-up stress of this subduction process is released. It is vital to have information about how to respond in the event of such an earthquake, which is predicted to occur in the near future, and furthermore it is necessary for visitors, so that they can be at ease and enjoy their trip.
At this point signage has been produced in Japanese, English and Chinese about disaster response processes, usage guides for Japanese baths, and information about meals. This has been achieved through the cooperation of a number of parties, such as individuals of foreign backgrounds who have lived in Muroto, and members of English conversation club.
Accommodation facilities that have started using this signage have provided feedback such as "foreign travelers check out these signs straight away" and "having this signage really helps me out." From hereon we plan to produce a wider range of signage and extend our reach to a greater number of accommodation facilities and eating establishments.
A disaster response sign in several languages accompanies a map
produced by the Muroto City Disaster Prevention Department in the entrance to this guest house