The new International Convention Center being built around Takezono House (literally) will be completed by next June, and the 11-story hotel being built between it and Daiei is scheduled to open by the end of next summer. In an effort to better prepare for the large influx of international visitors expected to come to Tsukuba, the office in charge of planning asked the Alien Times to bring together 5 long-term foreigners to advise them on what problems to expect and to give suggestions on how to solve them.
Tim Boyle, Anna Hamakoji, Joyce Inouye, Jon Heese and Walter Leal met for two hours with representatives of the office on Oct. 19 to answer their questions and to bring up issues they felt important. Needless to say, there were numerous points raised, such as the difficulty of using a bus system such as Tsukuba's, with its infrequent service and the idiotic refusal of the bus company to put destination names in 'romaji' (English alphabet) or to at least have numbers or some other way for those who can't read Japanese.
The planning office was particularly interested in what kinds of things foreigners would be interested in seeing. They especially had in mind what sort of tours family members would be interested in taking. While the panel gave them plenty of feedback along those lines, it particularly emphasized the need to have a well-trained, bilingual staff who could respond to the various situations and needs that are bound to occur. Having available someone you can communicate with who can help you with most any problem is critical to making such an international convention center function smoothly.
While the panel did its best to anticipate the concerns of short-term people, as each member of the panel has been in Tsukuba for at least 7 years, some issues unique to short-term people were probably not addressed. If any Alien Times reader (particularly short-term people) would like to raise an issue you think should be addressed, please send it by mail to the Alien Times or email it to za3t-byl[at]asahi-net.or.jp.
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