• Kyodo

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People in Tokyo are being offered a fun way to visit foreign embassies and get a glimpse of their national cultures. More than 30 of them are taking part in a “stamp rally,” in which participants visit specific locations and ink a square on a card at each site.

The event is organized by Tokyo’s Minato Ward and aims to give people a taste of the various nations taking part.

At the Romanian Embassy, visitors can view traditional costumes and porcelain, while a video introduces tourist spots in the country.

“I hope through the event, many Japanese people would visit Romania, which has beautiful scenery and rich culture,” said Silvia Cercheaza, secretary to the ambassador.

Cercheaza called it a “great opportunity” to introduce Romania to the Japanese people.

Visitors carrying “passports” — in which they collect the ink stamps — can access about 30 of the 80 embassies located in Minato Ward, where foreigners account for more than 18,000, or 7.6 percent, of the population. The ward’s foreign residents hail from 120 countries.

People who collect five stamps can enter a lottery for a world festival to be held in Tokyo on March 4 to 5.

“Minato Ward is full of international flavor and embassies can be very popular tourist attractions. I hope the event will promote international exchanges between people,” said Atsushi Shigetomi, director of tourism policy at the municipality.

At the Madagascan Embassy, an employee first gave a presentation about the country before taking questions from visitors about topics ranging from the weather to the culture.

“Visitors to the embassy can see with their own eyes souvenirs and handcrafts of Madagascar. I hope they will choose Madagascar as their upcoming destination,” said Rosette Lalatiana Rasoamanarivo, the Embassy’s interim charge d’affaires.

Chieko Tanaka, a 70-year-old participant, sounded enthusiastic about visiting Madagascar after her visit to the embassy. “I would like to organize a trip to Madagascar with my friends. The country feels closer now,” she said.

The event has been running since Jan. 15. The passports, valid until March 4, are available at no charge from public libraries and Minato Ward offices. Participating embassies include those of Brazil, Iran, the Philippines and Switzerland.

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