Quick Takes – September 27th, 2018

Welcome to Quick Takes! For this week, we have more resumption of train services, we have moss art, learn a bit of Japanese (in Japanese), and a guide to lead you through a maze!

  • Eizan Railway Kurama line is currently only partially available due to typhoon damage. Eizan had just announced that the line will resume up to Kibuneguchi station by today (Sept 27th). Those of you who want to go to Kurama Temple will have to wait until the end of October, when the repairs are done between Kibuneguchi and Kurama stations.
  • Art Watch: There is art, and there is horticulture. This is different though, as it is a combination of Buddhist temple, moss and Shuin art. Five Kyoto temples will host exhibitions of traditional shuins created in moss, as well as moss dioramas and decorations. Definitely worth a visit, the exhibitions are happening from now to at least February 2019.
  • Useful info in a strange form: the Japanese had a strange quirk in presenting tourist information to users: they seem to think tourists knew Japanese in the first place. Like this article: a very useful tutorial on what should you ask when you need help in a Japanese train station. It not only provides the questions to ask but also give audio on how to pronounce the questions. But the article is in Japanese (translated here by Google Translate). Why? I didn’t understand before, and I still don’t.
  • On a different note, someone is finally giving more thoughts in helping tourists in a meaningful fashion. JR Central had announced that starting from the end of this month (Sept. 2018), stations on the Tokaido Shinkansen line will gradually add English announcements of train arrivals, departures, platform, and other related information. They will also use translation apps to handle announcements of irregular inform, such as emergencies and delays. By March 2019, all 17 stations on the Tokaido Shinkansen line will have English announcements at all times.
  • In the past few years, Shibuya had gone through continuous constructions of new buildings and train stations relocation. With much of the above- and below ground routes changed, even locals are having a hard time finding their way around. Tokyoites are now calling the JR/Tokyu/Tokyo Metro station complex by the nickname “Shibuya Underground Labyrinth”. Luckily, Tokyu Electric Railway will rebrand and expand their existing information center by October 2018, to handle the additional inquiries. The new center will be called Wander Compass Shibuya and will have English speaking staff to help out on various services, such as hotel bookings, guided tours, money exchange, charging of IC cards, luggage storage and more. Wander Compass Shibuya will open by October 19th and will open from 10 am to 8 pm daily. A similar center will open on the third floor of Kyoto Tower Building by October 1st as well.

That’s it for now. Did you have past experiences of having a tough time finding tourist information in English? Let’s us know in the comments, and discuss~