• Kyodo

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Police in the city of Kyoto are offloading the duty of giving directions, putting up posters with QR codes for tourist sites at koban (police boxes).

Kyoto Prefectural Police is the first police force to do so, because officers are routinely harried by non-Japanese asking for directions.

The new service will allow officers to focus on more pressing matters, a police official said.

The move makes use of the fact that many smartphones can read QR codes and translate them into directions on a map.

Some 300 police stations and police boxes in the prefecture will get the posters by the end of the year.

The codes will link to temples, shrines, stations and banks in the vicinity.

At some police stations there will also be a tablet computer for people to use if they have no device connected to the internet.

Kyoto Prefectural Government figures show a record 3.22 million foreign visitors stayed in the prefecture last year.

Greater numbers are expected in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The posters will be available from Oct. 3, with the first going up at the Gion koban in Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward, an area that is often thronged by non-Japanese.

Police counted around 1,900 visits to the koban in May-July, with 90 percent of them asking for directions.

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