The number of foreign visitors to Japan in 2017 hit the new record, marking a 19.3% increase from 2016 and the fifth consecutive year in a rise in the number of foreigners visiting Japan. The Japanese government is targeting 40 million foreign visitors by 2020, when the capital city hosts the Olympics and Paralympics. Even though Tokyo is gearing up and upgrading various facilities to host these big events, there are still many remaining issues and challenges that need to be addressed immediately such as language and cultural barriers.
This spring, Riela Drianda and her students, will start a collaboration project between Waseda University, Osekkai Japan, and JR East-Shinjuku. With an average of 3.5 million passing through its doors, Shinjuku Station is one of the busiest transport hubs in Japan. In addition to JR Railway Company, Shinjuku is also home to a number of private railway companies and bus terminals transforming this station into a huge labyrinth for the users. Even the locals often find Shinjuku hard to navigate.
During Kick-Off Meeting
Since Tokyo will welcome more visitors in the future, there is a strong demand to make Shinjuku Station more foreigner-friendly. The collaboration project aims to identify the current issues and formulate some ideas to create a more foreigner-friendly Shinjuku Station. Together with Osekkai Japan, a local volunteer organization that has been helping foreigners to navigate Tokyo, foreign students will come across foreign visitors and identify the challenges they face in Shinjuku area. Based on their observation, students will formulate ideas and stimulate discussion around the next solution for Shinjuku Station. The final ideas and prototypes will be presented in front of JR-East Shinjuku and distribute to the crowds. This project marks the growth of machizukuri (community development) activities by Japanese and non-Japanese residents in Tokyo.