JR East and Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organization are working together to renew 40 tourist information centers in the northeastern Tohoku region of Japan. Tourist information centers in railway stations across 7 prefectures will have their facilities updated in order to improve services for overseas visitors. The centers will also have their signage standardized with the same logo and slogan as part of the “Exploration to the Deep North” campaign. Signage will be in English, Korean, and Chinese (both simplified and traditional) and the centers’ services will be advertised with pictograms.
The renewal program began with the opening of a renovated center in Akita Station in early March, and is scheduled to continue over several years. This is partly because some centers will be moved within station premises and in other locations brand new facilities will be built.
All centers will be authorized by the Japan National Tourism Organization as “Category 1” which means they must have English speaking staff. In addition Wi-Fi internet access will be available, and touch screen tablets and computers will be available for information and guidance. Staff will be able to provide free advice on sightseeing and accommodation across all 7 prefectures and there will also be a 24 hour multilingual telephone support service.
Though not as well-known as more popular tourist locations such as Tokyo and Kyoto, the Tohoku area is blessed with untouched natural scenery, relaxing hot spring resorts, lively festivals throughout the year, and a rich artistic and culinary tradition. It is hoped the new campaign and refurbished information facilities will enable more overseas travelers to discover the delights of this fascinating region.
For more information about tourism in the Tohoku region please visit the official Travel to Tohoku website.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.