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Conductors' accented English announcements on bullet trains a social media hit

Conductor Saki Takada shows a textbook to learn English announcements for Tokaido Shinkansen bullet trains at JR Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka's Yodogawa Ward on March 6, 2019. (Mainichi/Maiko Umeda)

OSAKA -- English announcements by conductors on Tokaido Shinkansen bullet trains have become a popular topic on social media such as Twitter because of their Japanese accents.

Central Japan Railway Co. introduced such announcements instead of playing recorded female native English speaker voices in December to train conductors to guide the increasing numbers of foreign visitors. People are discussing their accents on social media, with some posts saying, "It sounds really monotonous," and "I can understand them although they vary between individuals."

A laptop computer screen shows English announcements for Tokaido Shinkansen bullet trains at JR Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka's Yodogawa Ward on March 6, 2019. (Mainichi/Maiko Umeda)

The conductors make the English announcements before the train stops at stations on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line, between Tokyo Station and Shin-Osaka Station, saying for example, "We are stopping at Nagoya Station," and "The doors on the left side will open."

A 31-year-old British man who listened to the announcements said that they were understandable and more English announcements would make it easier for foreigners to travel in Japan.

The railway company has strengthened English training for its workers. Saki Takada, a 29-year-old conductor, has participated in the training and said, "I want to improve my English skills so foreign passengers can have a comfortable time on Shinkansen trains."

West Japan Railway Co. also plans to start live English announcements by its conductors from March 16 on the Sanyo and Hokuriku Shinkansen lines.

(Japanese original by Yuki Tsurita, Osaka Business News Department)

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