PROTOTYPE

Japan-France Joint Demonstration Experiment on Traveler Paths - Part 1

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Japan-France Joint Demonstration Experiment on Traveler Paths – Part 1

Ever since the decision was made for Tokyo to host the Olympic Games, it has been pointed out that there is a greater need for foreign-language signage and other information services for inbound foreign travelers to Japan. But more than just foreign-language signage is needed to receive foreign visitors; they need services that will provide the kind of support that enables them to broaden the scope of their stay by reducing the communication stress that results from language and cultural differences.

In aiming toward that kind of service, OPEN INNOVATION LAB. did a demonstration experiment by collecting and analyzing the life logs of French visitors to Osaka during Nov. 8 to 18, 2015. An experiment done in partnership with Val-d’Oise, a French department that has friendship ties with Osaka prefecture, it was implemented with the assistance of Grand Front Osaka TMO General Incorporated Association and The Senshu Ikeda Bank, Ltd., as well as the technical cooperation of the MIT Media Lab (of which Dentsu and ISID are member companies) and the Kawahara Lab of the Open University of Japan.

Experiment participants had an IC card issued in advance at their airport of departure and registered hotels they stay at in Japan and planned exchange amounts (in yen) using dedicated digital signage installed at the airport. After arriving in Japan, they only needed to show their card at the digital signage installed at foreign exchange shops of The Senshu Ikeda Bank in order to get speedy, signature-free exchange service as based on the registered information at the disposal of bank employees. Based on the registered information, users are also provided with information about where to board the bus to their accommodations and recommendations about the next places on their itinerary and neighboring areas. The objective of the service was to reduce the stress of language issues and currency exchange.

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Many foreign visitors – and not just French – tend to pay by credit card in order to avoid exchange rates that are overly expensive at the time of departure and the hassle of having to sign the paperwork required when exchanging currency after arriving in Japan. This is apparently one cause for the scope of activity during their stay being limited to establishments that honor credit cards. However, this experiment determined that many of the participants who acquired Japanese yen were able to actively enjoy experiences in Japan that require cash, such as going to pachinko parlors, taking part in hands-on pottery experiences, and purchasing souvenirs. One conclusion that can be drawn is that the simplification of exchange procedures is a way of enlivening the purchase activities of visiting French people.

text: Junichi Suzuki