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Tokyo launches information center on culture and tourism ahead of the Games

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Tokyo’s city government on Monday launched an information center in the capital to introduce its culture and promote tourism to visitors during the Summer Games scheduled to open later this week.

At the Tokyo Sports Arena in Chiyoda Ward, volunteers explain the capital’s history and culture in briefings. It also provides a workspace for media covering events at the facility, which will be open until September 5, the last day of the Paralympics.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike visited the venue on the same day and said in a panel discussion, “We want to introduce Japan’s traditions and innovations around the world.”

A photo showing Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike (right) speaking at a panel discussion attended by model Ai Tominaga at the Tokyo Sports Arena on July 19, 2021 (Kyodo)

Stalls in the center offer traditional crafts, robotics, and food and drink in Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan.

The facility also contains exhibits and videos showing recovery efforts in areas of northeastern Japan that were hit by the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami and in Kumamoto Prefecture in the country’s southwest, which were hit by a pair of strong earthquakes in 2016.

Japanese model Ai Tominaga also said in the panel discussion, “I think Japanese technology has already impressed a lot of people abroad and this is a good opportunity to reach a wider audience.”

Volunteer explanation sessions will be recorded and uploaded online with English subtitles, according to staff at the facility.

Meanwhile, a so-called road pricing system was implemented on Monday on the capital’s highways to avoid congestion and enable athletes, Olympic and Paralympic staff to travel smoothly to the venues.

Under the scheme, an additional fee of 1,000 yen ($9.1) will be charged for personal cars, mini-vehicles and motorcycles that use the highways from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Vehicles used for public transportation and logistics such as taxis, buses and trucks are exempt from the surcharge.

In an effort to encourage logistics companies to use the roads late at night and in the early morning, tolls on the highway covering downtown Tokyo have been halved from midnight to 4 a.m. for vehicles equipped with an electronic toll collection system.

The scheme will be in effect until August 9, and from August 24 to September 5.

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