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Open Access "What Your Head!": Signs of Hospitality in the Tourism Linguistic Landscapes of Rural Japan

This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND licence.

This article explores signs of hospitality in the tourism linguistic landscape (LL) of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail in Wakayama, Japan. We argue that the multilingualization of visible tourism public signage in this rural region raises important philosophical questions of hospitality. With the help of Jacque Derrida to navigate this terrain, we examine how rural communities communicate and negotiate hospitality in a rapidly internationalizing rural tourism destination. Combining photographic data, participant observation, and open-ended interviews, we offer a close reading of the tourism LL at three gathering points along the Nakahechi route: Shingu City station, Kumano Hongu Taisha, and the small village of Chikatsuyu. The article is structured as follows. We begin by defining LL studies and draw attention to the current research in tourism settings. Next, an overview of Derrida's contribution to the philosophy of hospitality is presented, which acts as a guide for reading the trail's tourism LL. The discussion then revolves around three main themes: the host as hostage to hospitality; the reproduction of the conditional hospitality through tourism LL; and the work of hospitality understood as an ethic of negotiating the threshold of the unconditional and conditional, the impossible and the unavoidable. Bringing together a philosophy of hospitality with tourism LL research, the article adds new theoretical perspectives to the study of LL. It also deepens our understandings of the relationship between hospitality, tourism, and linguistic landscapes.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 15, 2022

This article was made available online on August 30, 2021 as a Fast Track article with title: "“WHAT YOUR HEAD!”: SIGNS OF HOSPITALITY IN THE TOURISM LINGUISTIC LANDSCAPES OF RURAL JAPAN".

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  • Tourism, Culture & Communication is international in its scope and will place no restrictions upon the range of cultural identities covered, other than the need to relate to tourism and hospitality. The Journal seeks to provide interdisciplinary perspectives in areas of interest that may branch away from traditionally recognized national and indigenous cultures, for example, cultural attitudes toward the management of tourists with disabilities, gender aspects of tourism, sport tourism, or age-specific tourism.
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