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Does the term “inbound” in Japan have the same meaning as it does in other countries? We asked one of our Australian staff.

2016年8月2日
Pocket

Whenever there’s an article about foreign tourists in Japan, the word “inbound” is almost always used. People tend to use this word to describe foreign tourists without knowing the true definition.

Is the word “inbound” used in the right way? Do foreign tourists have a mutual understanding of the word “inbound”? Let’s see if the word is used correctly in Japan.

We asked one of our Australian staff what their definition of “inbound” was.

Mr. SmartMenu

Introducing: Mr. SmartMenu

Smart Menu writer
I want to meet people from all over the world and practice my english!

Miss. SmartMenu

Introducing: Miss. SmartMenu

Smart Menu’s SNS account manager
Trilingual girl: speaks Japanese, English and Chinese

Let’s ask Miss. SmartMenuabout the word “inbound”!

Does the word “inbound” have the same meaning in other countries?

Mr. SmartMenu

Hey Miss. SmartMenu, do people in other countries have the same definition of the word “inbound” as used in Japan?

Miss. SmartMenu

I don’t think so. The word “inbound” doesn’t mean “inbound tourists”. There’s so many other ways you can use the word “inbound”.

Mr. SmartMenu

Really?! I didn’t know that. What other ways can you use the word?

Miss. SmartMenu

“Inbound” generally means “incoming”. We don’t really use the word that much in daily conversations.

Mr. SmartMenu

I see. Can you come up with ten different ways the word might be used?

Miss. SmartMenu

That’s a hard question. For example:
Inbound bus
Inbound call
Inbound highway…?
I can’t think of any others right now.

Mr. SmartMenu

Interesting. So the word is completely different from the way we use it in Japan!

So how do people in other countries describe foreign tourists?

Mr. SmartMenu

What are the keywords used in other countries to describe foreign tourists?

スマメちゃん

I would say that the words “tourist” or “tourism” is used to describe people from other countries. If a person is visiting domestically, then we could simply call them “visitors”.

Mr. SmartMenu

In Japan, the word “tourist” is usually used to describe domestic visitors. So how would you describe the term “inbound” as us Japanese would use it?

Miss. SmartMenu

Hmm, I would say “inbound tourism”.

Summary

In conclusion, the term “inbound” used in Japan doesn’t have the same meaning that it does in other countries. It’s interesting to find out that the same words are used in different ways and how people from different countries interpret it differently. People in Japan tend to use the word “inbound” only to describe foreign visitors to Japan, when the word can mean so many different things. It can’t be helped that the definition of the word is assumed by all Japanese, because of how commonly it is used only to describe foreign tourists.