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Efforts of Tokyo Chuo City Tourist Information Center B1F KYOBASHI EDOGRAND, 2-2-1 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
To introduce the charm of Chuo City, “the city where Edo culture flourished”, to all
The Chuo City Tourism Information Center is located on the first basement floor of the Edogrand complex, which opened on November 25, 2016, and serves as the information center for the Chuo City Tourism Association.
The upper floors are office buildings, and the lower floors are occupied by about 30 restaurants and interior stores. The main corridor of the basement floor, where the center is located, is particularly busy, with the modern appearance and spaciousness catching the eye.
We interviewed Yusuke Horiuchi, the director of the Tourism Information Center, Manami Ishizuka, the head of the service section, and Tomoe Miyoshi, the head of the planning section, about the efforts of this center.
Wheelchair Experience at the "Accessible Tourism Promotion Seminar”
In November 2021, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's "Accessible Tourism Promotion Seminar" was held for two days to provide hands-on experience and training for wheelchair users. In this training, the staffs rode around the subway in wheelchairs to move around the station and commercial facilities. They also checked the usability of ticket gates, elevators, and restrooms from the perspective of a wheelchair user, and then discussed what they noticed with other participants.
On the first day, the staff started from the Chuo City Tourist Information Center and headed for Nihombashi Station taking the Ginza subway line from Kyobashi Station. At Nihombashi Station, they went around commercial facilities using elevators, then took the Toei Subway Asakusa Line to Takaracho Station, and from Takaracho Station, returned to the Center via public roads. On the second day, the route started from the Chuo City Tourism Information Center and moved from Kyobashi Station to Ginza Station on the Ginza Line. The staffs visited commercial facilities in Ginza, and returned to the Tourist Information Center afterward.
One new thing that the participating staffs noticed was that the width of the corridors in the Tourist Information Center was designed with wheelchair users in mind, but when they actually tried to use the corridors, some of them felt too narrow. In addition, the staffs were able to reconfirm how to move around efficiently - without steps and without taking a long detour. For example, it was important to confirm which ticket gates would be more convenient for wheelchair users at each station, how to purchase tickets and charge IC cards, and where the various wheelchair friendly bathrooms were located. In addition, staffs were able to see the city from the standpoint of a concierge and learned many things that will be useful when guiding people in the future.
Staffs will work together to create a system that can accept all travelers.
The Chuo City Tourism Information Center has been lending out wheelchairs free of charge, but this time, all the staffs were able to learn anew the basic procedures for using and operating wheelchairs. The team will continue to improve its support system through friendly competition to learn the basic ways to deal with the elderly and disabled, the names and meanings of various symbols, and how to ask for help when needed.
The Tourism Information Center has six English-speaking and three Chinese-speaking staff members, and is looking to further improve its services in foreign languages.
Approaching users and putting various ideas into action
Since the Tourism Information Center has many visitors with hearing disabilities, they have discussed with its staff members to use a writing board (whiteboard). When explaining things to visitors, they use sightseeing pamphlets, barrier-free maps prepared by the ward, and provide supplementary explanations on the writing board for detailed information. This has been very well received by visitors, and the center strives to keep this basic approach in mind in the future.
The next goal of the Tourist Information Center is to introduce sign language. By incorporating sign language, it will become an information center that can guide more people.
Finally, the center is also aiming to obtain the Barrier-Free Certification System from the Japan Tourism Agency, so please keep your eyes on the Chuo City Tourism Information Center as it continues to strive towards becoming a “center for all”.
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