All About Japan

Using the ili Translator in Rural Japan

| Cycling , First Time in Japan
Using the ili Translator in Rural Japan

Head outside of the big cities of Japan and you might notice the number of English speakers starts to decline, giving me a good chance to try out the ili translation device. From Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture to Imabari in Ehime Prefecture, let's see how it worked with the local residents in the smaller towns and villages.

Needing the Toilet at Onomichi

Needing the Toilet at Onomichi

I exited the JR Onomichi Station and was bursting to use the toilet. I couldn't find the location of the toilets as the station was going through renovation and parts of the station were closed. I rushed outside and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to whip out the ili translation device to ask for directions. This was the perfect emergency situation to see how this device would work under pressure. The device is pretty simple to use—just press the button and speak. It translated my request for directions perfectly well but alas, they also had no idea!

Hunger Pains

Hunger Pains

On one of the islands in the Seto Inland Sea, I was starting to feel a little peckish. I was essentially in the middle of nowhere but was hoping that there would be signs of something edible nearby. I thought a convenience store would be the best option for a quick snack and hopefully within the area. I stopped someone to quickly ask and once again, the translation device worked a treat! He pointed me in the general direction of a convenience store.

Thirsty for a Drink

Thirsty for a Drink

After a quick snack from the convenience store, I needed a drink. Instead of taking the easy route and buying one at the store, I figured this would be a good opportunity to check whether the ili device would work well in another time of need. I sought after a couple to ask whether there were any vending machines nearby but their stunned surprise of the ili device, "Sugoiiiiiiii" ("woooooow!"), prevented them from giving me an answer.

Time to Rest in Imabari

Time to Rest in Imabari

As the day came to a close, I went to the hotel reception where I had booked a room for the night. I wanted to see whether the device could help me through the process of getting a room. Her responses were very polite—perhaps she thought I was Japanese? The translation device worked a treat and started the process with ease.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

It's most definitely a very nifty device that would help any visitor to Japan with the language barrier. The translations are usually accurate and prompt responses from the person you are asking help from. Most people take to it well and some are surprised it even exists. There definitely seems to be a gap in the market for devices like the ili device, especially in the run up to the Olympic Games. If you're thinking about getting your hands on one, click the link below to get more information.