Tokyu launches Shibuya info page

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Private railway Tokyu Corp. has opened a new Facebook page in five different languages to cash in on foreign interest in Shibuya, the soul of Japanese entertainment and youth fashion.

Titled Shibuya Expert, the Facebook page will run the gamut of entertainment information from shopping to food and events in the district it calls home.

Aside from the bustling Toyoko and Den-en-toshi lines at Shibuya Station, the Tokyu Group also runs the posh Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel looming over the district, and two other hotel chains plus the landmark Tokyu Hands department store.

Nearly half the guests at the Shibuya-area hotels run by Tokyu are foreigners, said Satoshi Goto, manager of the firm’s international business headquarters. The railway’s tourist information desk in the station has been swamped with more than 80,000 inquiries in Japan and abroad since the desk debuted in March 2013. The staff can speak English and Japanese.

“We eventually hope the Facebook page will grow into a much-checked item for foreign tourists planning to visit Tokyo,” Goto said Thursday. At the moment, the page is available in Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese and Thai.

Tokyu published its first annual tourist guidebook in spring 2012 to disseminate information on the latest trends in the pop culture mecca. But because interest in Shibuya among foreigners has surged recently, the railway has decided to post more up-to-date information more often, Goto said.

Shibuya Expert will focus on spreading “timely” information, he said, including upcoming events and sale alerts. It will also contain pictures of popular sightseeing spots, such as the main intersection in front of JR Shibuya Station and the statue of “Hachiko” the faithful dog.

Partly helped by a weakened yen, the number of foreign tourists to Japan in 2013 jumped 24 percent from the previous year to break the 10 million barrier, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

Another factor was the relaxed visa requirements for short-term visitors from Southeast Asia

According to a fiscal 2012 survey of 7,964 foreign tourists conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Shibuya was the capital’s most visited district, at 42.5 percent, followed by Shinjuku, Ginza and Akihabara.