Sometimes I see foreign travelers looking bewildered in front of restaurants. They want to try local eateries that aren’t mentioned in guidebooks. But what if they can’t communicate? What if there’s no English menu? What if they’re served something strange? What if they’re overcharged? These worries start to grow, and in the end, they end up going to McDonald’s. Some people even lament, “I’ve been to McDonald’s three times since I came to Japan.”
As a Japanese person, I always think, “They don’t need to worry so much.” After all, they came to Japan, so they should experience the local flavors.
Even if foreigners enter a restaurant, it’s unlikely that they will be seen as a bother. If there’s no English menu, they can simply point to a picture and say, “This, please.” If they see someone at a nearby table enjoying their meal, they can use gestures to convey, “I want the same thing.” And if that’s too difficult, they can ask, “What do you recommend?” The restaurant staff will enjoy such interactions. It’s possible that some of the dishes they try may not suit their taste, but that’s also part of the joy of traveling.
In Japan, there are hardly any restaurants that overcharge foreigners. As long as they avoid obviously sketchy places, there’s no need to be overly cautious.
If they take the leap and dive in, they will surely have a delightful experience.