The "Welcome to Our Shibuya Project 2017," where junior and senior high school students provide tourism information and act as guides to foreign visitors in English, was held in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward on Aug. 27.
The event was jointly held by online English conversation service RareJob and Manabi Up Communications, which is one of the companies that organizes the new English language test "Eigo Otai Noryoku Kentei" (Hospitable English Ability Response Test). The project was planned to provide the students with chances to speak English to develop human resources ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. The Shibuya Ward tourism association and the ward's board of education also backed the event.
Fifty-four students from schools around the ward were selected to participate through a document screening process. The students learned phrases useful for guiding visitors, and prepared for the event by researching maps and familiarizing themselves with the locations of sightseeing spots. Divided into groups of five to six, the students searched for foreign visitors in the crowded weekend Shibuya and Harajuku areas, striking up a conversation and helping them to arrive at their destination.
"Rather than paying too much attention to grammar and pronunciation, I learned the importance of smiling when communicating," said 15-year-old participant Mona Usui.