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Toyko Government Launches Website That Translates Menus Into 12 Languages

Tourists will be able to access menus in languages like Arabic, German, English, and Thai.

Half the fun of traveling is exploring the local cuisine, but language barriers can make reading menus and figuring out what to order quite challenging. According to the Asahi Shimbun, The Tokyo government hopes to to change that. Late last month, authorities unveiled a new site called Menu Tokyo which is "intended to help the city's restaurants draw up menus in up to 12 foreign languages." These menus are stored in a database for tourists to access. All restaurant owners have to do is type in their menu items and the website automatically translates the items for them. Currently, the website is capable of offering translations in Simplified Chinese, Mandarin, German, French, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Thai, English, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Arabic.

PSFK writes that users can either choose a type of cuisine they are interested in and narrow the restaurant down by neighborhood, or they can choose a neighborhood and explore what options are available. The results show the distance to the restaurant, directions, price range, type of cuisine, and what languages the menu is in available in. The website also features a set of 35 pictograms "mean to indicated the contents of a dish" and a set of printable phrases "that both customers and restaurant staff can point to when predicaments at the dinner table occur."

There are only a handful of restaurants on the site presently but the government hopes to beef up that number ahead of the 2020 Olympics which will take place in Tokyo. By then, Tokyo will also be home to a number of restaurants beloved in America like Shake ShackBlue Bottle, and Tartine Bakery.

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