Translated by MATCHA-PR
Exploring ICT Tourism With a Student From Thailand
A new article in the series of rediscovering Japan's allure through the eyes of students from Thailand. This time we investigate how we can use ICT technology in our travels through Japan.
Written by MATCHA-PR
This is a new article in the series where we rediscover Japan's allure through the eyes of students from Thailand. In this 7th installation of the series we will be investigating tourism using ICT technology.
While we explore ICT tourism be sure to have a look at the images provided by NHK World TV's Tokyo Eye 2020 ~ICT Tokyo~.
Both public and private sectors of Japan have been focusing to make progress on ICT (Information and Communication Technology).
In 2012, Japan's yearly GDP was around 474.4 trillion yen, 50.4 trillion yen of which was created by ICT related businesses. ICT technology is being used in many situations of daily life, and even foreign visitors have been using it.
In this article we will cover how ICT influences the four categories of activities related to tourism: transportation, finding your way around, shopping and cuisine.
If you're visiting Tokyo, the first priority is getting to your destination. Tokyo is the city with the most highly developed transportation system in the world. By getting used to the trains and subways, you become more capable of budgeting your time and money, which allows you to visit Tokyo much more effectively.
However, because of its high rate of development, there are some things about Tokyo's transportation system that are hard to understand for travelers. If you have any trouble, use one of the ICT services available in order to travel through Tokyo in a carefree manner.
Ginny "Today I want to go to Shinjuku and Shibuya. I wonder if I can get there by myself..."
If there is something that we would like travelers in Japan to try, that is "Suica." It is the IC card introduced by the railroad company known as "JR East Japan." By charging your card with money beforehand, you can use the train without the need to purchase a ticket.
It's a convenient item that can be used outside of JR East Japan's main lines, for trains country-wide, as well as shopping.
Off we go! First, we head to the station.
Ginny "There are several entrances. Which one should I use?"
There are three types of gates in Japanese train stations: "entry-only", "exit-only" and some that work either way. To get through, use a gate that doesn't have a red mark on the flap doors.
Passing through is easy. Just hold your Suica over the blue touch panel and pass through. If you don't have enough money on the card, or if there is an error, the panel will flash red. In this case, talk to the station workers to solve the problem.
Ginny passes through with ease.
Ginny "It went so easily and smooth. The design is easy to understand, so I managed to pass through without worries."
Once you're inside, the next step is getting on the train. Each of the JR lines uses a distinctive color for its trains, so those who have trouble with Japanese should use the colors of the trains for orientation. This time we are using the Yamanote Line, whose color is green.
When you're inside, look above the door! An LCD screen displays the current station and the direction in which the train is headed, as well as the estimated time left until the destination is reached.
*This applies only to the JR Yamanote Line. Other lines vary in terms of equipment.
Ginny "Look, the display shows the information both in English and Japanese. No need to worry about getting lost."
2. Finding our way around
Upon reaching Shinjuku, she immediately takes a souvenir photo.
Ginny "I'm going to brag about being in Shinjuku on my SNS. Shinjuku and Shibuya are famous among the youth in Thailand as well."
It seems that youngsters in Thailand know more about Japan than we thought. Let's have a look at the areas of Shinjuku that are particularly well known to them.
Ginny " First off is Alta! This is where people meet up with one another, right? It's pretty famous. I don't actually know what's around there, though..."
Ginny "The Don Quijote in Shinjuku is famous as assplace to buy souvenirs."
This time Ginny has got her eyes on tax-free stores.
Ginny "I want Japanese beauty appliances, so I'm going to check out some electronics stores that sells them at tax-free prices."
She's using the "TAX-FREE SHOPPING GUIDE", a smartphone application that helps us find the particular stores we're looking for. This app allows you to search using criteria such as area, distance from your current position, and the goods you're looking for (watches, clothes, etc.), which will then bring up a map to guide you to the store.
Ginny "It looks like there's "BICQLO" store nearby!"
Using the app for orientation, she heads to her destination.
"BICQLO" is a large shopping center that combines the appliance store "BicCamera" and the clothing outlet "Uniqlo". They are both popular shopping destinations for travelers to Japan. We should be able to find the beauty appliances Ginny is looking for here.
While it is a large establishment that contains nearly everything you're looking for, it's also easy to get lost for those who aren't used to it. If you get lost, just ask the staff for help.
At BicCamera there are always members of the staff who can speak both English and Chinese. To those who don't speak either of these languages we recommend the smartphone application “Jspeak”.
When you speak into your phone using Jspeak, the app automatically translates your words into Japanese. It can also translate Japanese into whatever your native tongue is, allowing you to have a conversation with a Japanese person. It can translate up to 10 languages, including Thai and Spanish.
*1…English, Chinese, Korean, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Thai, Indonesian
If you have any trouble, try talking to the staff.
Ginny "Which beauty appliances are popular?"
Will they understand her...?
Employee "Beauty appliances? There are many people who buy this hair dryer."
She guided us to the area with beauty appliances that are popular among customers.
Ginny described the functions and design, as well as the color she wanted, and managed to buy the hair dryer she was looking for.
Once we were through with shopping, we went to eat something.
In many restaurants in Japan tablets and other similar electronic devices are being used to improve efficiency in placing orders.
Now, when you speak of popular Japanese cuisine, sushi is pretty high on the list. We heard about a sushi place in Shibuya where 70% of the customers are foreign travelers, and went to check it out.
Only two minutes away from Shibuya's landmark "SHIBUYA109" is "Uobei, Shibuya Dōgenzaka store 魚べい 渋谷道玄坂店." The reason behind its popularity is that it uses ICT in its services. Let's check it out.
This isn't your typical sushi place. The interior is straight out of the near future, with a white-based scheme. All 50 of the seats are arranged in the usual sushi restaurant style.
What caught our interest were the 3 lanes running in front of the seats, and the displays above them. This is a sushi restaurant with high-speed lanes, where customers receive their sushi orders directly from the kitchen to their seats on these lanes.
The display provided at each seat is a touch panel for ordering sushi.
Ginny "This is way different from the sushi places I know!"
Will Ginny manage to order properly on her first visit to an ICT sushi restaurant?
She touches the panel with a little caution. She selects the language first; they offer Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese (simplified and traditional) versions of the menu here. Ginny seems to have chosen English.
Finally, we get to order.
As you can see, the entire menu is in English. It has pictures as well, so you can order even things that you aren't familiar with.
Ginny "I'll order one of my favorites: salmon!"
We wait about one minute... And what comes out on the lane?
Ginny "Wow! I've never seen a service like this. It stops right in front of me, even though there are so many people."
Once the sushi reaches you, take the plate down onto your table and press the yellow button next to the display. The lane will return to the kitchen.
If the lane doesn't get back to the kitchen, they may not be able to send sushi to other customers. Please be sure to press the button.
Ginny "It's not only delicious, but it's also fun. I want to order again and again just to see the sushi fly up to me."
You can pay with Japanese yen or with your credit card, and you can even pay with the Suica you used in order to ride the train. You won't have to count small change or sign for any receipts here. It is a very pleasurable experience.
What do you think? ICT is not only convenient, but it can also be fun in and of itself. You'll be missing out if you don't make use of the ICT services when you come to Japan.
To those who are interested in learning more on ICT tourism we warmly recommend the Tokyo Eye 2020 ~ICT Tokyo~ website for details.
Photo by Junichi Higashiyama
■Places You Must Visit in Akihabara! A Tour with a Thai Student
■Thorough Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree Comparison by a Thai Student
■A Tour Around Izu Peninsula With a Thai Exchange Student. Beautiful Scenery, Delicious Food and Onsen!
■Jiyugaoka: Through the Eyes of a Thai Student
■Hokkaido's winter attractions? A trip to Biei with a student from Thailand
In cooperation with: NHK WORLD TV(TOKYO EYE 2020)
BICQLO (Biccamera) Shinjuku East Exit
*The following is Biccamera's information
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku Shinjuku 3-29-1
Hours: 10:00 - 22:00
Closed: Open 365 days a year
Credit Cards: VIEW, Aeon イオン, JCB, VISA, DC, MASTER, AMEX, Diners, 銀聯, UFJ, MUFG, Tōkyū card 東急カード, Nicos, Orico, Rakuten 楽天, MICARD, TS3
Languages: English, Chinese (There may also be staff who can speak Thai, Korean, and French)
Languages Available in other Languages: yes
Station: Shinjuku Station 新宿駅 (JR Yamanote, JR Chuo Line, JR Sobu Line, JR Saikyo Line, JR Shonan Shinjuku Line, Marunouchi Line, Shinjuku Line, Oedo Line, Keiou Line, Odakyu Line)
Access: 5 minutes on foot from the East Exit of the Shinjuku Station 新宿駅東口
Price Range: Varies depending on the product
Religious Information: -
Phone Number: +81-3-3226-1111
Official Website: Bikkuro Biccamera Shinjuku East Exit (Japanese, automated English translation available)
Uobei Shibuya Dōgenzaka Store 魚べい 渋谷道玄坂店
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Dōgenzaka 2-29-11
Hours: 11:00 - 24:00 (admission/last order: 23:30）
Closed: Open 365 days a year
Credit Cards: JCB, AMEX, Diners
Menus available in: English, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Korean
Station: Shibuya Station 渋谷駅 of every line
Access: 5 minutes on foot from the Hachiko Exit of the Shibuya Station 渋谷駅ハチ公口
Prince Range: 1,000 - 2,000 yen
Religious Information: -
Phone Number: +81-3-3462-0241
Official Website: Uobei Shibuya Dōgenzaka