New “digital tourism” is born in Shibuya City
- Shibuya City, Tokyo, is renowned around the world as one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations “SHIBUYA”. With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games just around the corner, the city is bustling with more and more foreign tourists. In response to such growing inbound demand, the Shibuya City Office has initiated the concept of “digital tourism”.
- The Shibuya City Office plans to distribute posters, pamphlets, and cards featuring two-dimensional bar codes at various locations in the city, based on technology provided by Google. When the two-dimensional bar code is read by a smartphone or the like, a “Google Maps” is launched and information on various spots and access information is displayed. It is available in English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, so not only foreign tourists but also Japanese tourists and locals can use it.
- Currently, there are eight categories of two-dimensional bar codes. There are a wide variety of genres such as “Sushi restaurants”, “SIM Card Dealer”, “Night spot”, and “Shibuya tourist attractions”.
- In addition to two-dimensional bar code guidance, a project to set up “Google Nest Hub” at various locations in Shibuya City is also under way. Google Nest Hub is a tablet made by Google that combines a smart speaker with a display. The built-in Google Assistant’s interpretation mode allows you to speak into the display and it will translate in real time via voice and screen. The service is available in 29 languages, ranging from familiar languages such as English and Chinese to languages with relatively few speakers in Japan, such as Slovak and Ukrainian. Since January 27, 2020, they have been installed at 3 tourist information centers including “Aogaeru Tourist Information Center”.
- With the opening of “Shibuya Scramble Square” in November 2019, the Shibuya redevelopment project has finally entered its climax. “As the number of foreign tourists increases, the need for tourist information centers is diversifying. As the city changes, the tourist information centers need to be updated.” says Ken Hasebe, Mayor of Shibuya. To cope with these changes in recent years, new types of tourist information centers have been created. In December 2019, “shibuya-san tourist information & art center” opened on the 1st floor of “Shibuya Fukuras”.
- With bus stops from Narita and Haneda just in front of them, the facility adopts an approach that defies the conventional wisdom of tourist information centers. The facility is purposely built without a counter, so tourists can easily interact with the staff. Most of the staff members are foreigners who can speak Japanese, and they welcome tourists from Japan and abroad in a variety of languages. In addition, they are open until 23:00 for sightseeing at night. Alcohol is served at night, and visitors from various countries can enjoy interacting with each other while drinking.
- With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games just around the corner, SHIBUYA is getting even more lively. With the enhancement of “digital tourism”, you will be able to encounter new attractions of SHIBUYA.