Lonely Planet Writer

Tokyo airport tests multilingual translation megaphone

In a bid to help the increasing number of tourists arriving in Tokyo, Narita Airport has been trialling a megaphone that is linked to a speech translation system.

Narita Airport.
Narita Airport. Image by Kentaro IEMOTO / CC BY-SA 2.0

When Japanese is spoken into the megaphone, the words are automatically translated and transmitted in English, Chinese and Korean. Panasonic Corp. has been developing the megaphone – dubbed ‘Megahonyaku’ – for about a year, and expects that it will be used at major events, such as the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020. The developers will be taking feedback from the airport trial, which runs until March. While common words are correctly translated, the Megahonyaku reportedly trips up on airline name ANA (All Nippon Airways), mistranslating it as ‘hole’, which is pronounced ‘ana’ in Japanese. Read more: the-japan-news.com