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June 09, 2004

Foreign Visitors in Safe Hands

Yesterday's Asahi Shimbun carried an article on the information staff at Tokyo and Ueno stations, who are fluent in English - even sign language - thanks to weekly English conversation lessons. On average, staff at Tokyo station now handle about 150 inquiries a day, about triple the number when the service began in 2000. Concierges said the questions they get range from the usual topics-climbing Mount Fuji, traveling to Hokkaido and locating the nearest restrooms and lockers-to more bizarre ones like "explain what the white and red sections of the Japanese flag mean."
Station 'concierge' desks steer tourists right

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