IF you have been to Tokyo, it is more than likely you would have gotten lost at some point.
But the Tokyo metropolitan government has initiated plans for volunteer guides to help point tourists towards the direction of local experiences.
Guides are concentrated in especially touristy areas such as Asakusa and Shinjuku, and when the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games rolls around, guides will be positioned in other areas like Roppongi and Shibuya.
— TripOut-Japan Travel (@tripoutjapan) March 3, 2017
Volunteers wear white hats and travel in pairs, and tourists are encouraged to approach them if they need assistance with directions, navigating train lines, food recommendations, attraction fares, and such.
Most volunteers speak English while others dabble in French and Mandarin as well.
University student Kana Tsuchiya told The Japan News: “In addition to famous tourist spots, such as Sensoji temple, other spots including costume rental shops have also become popular. The contents of our guidance have diversified.”
While the project began in 2015, the volunteer guides, whose numbers have doubled to 1,200 from two years ago, have dispersed to the east and southern exits of Shinjuku station, the Asakusa district, and the Ginza station.
To cater to the projected influx of overseas visitors during the Olympics, several Tokyo universities are training their students to brush up on their translation skills. Students are also trained to speak about the history of the Olympics and Japanese culture.
On top of that, walking tours are also increasingly popular in the city. Walking tour guides claim part of Tokyo’s magic lies in the history of its place names, and tourists can only unlock these histories if they travel by foot.