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Students point way for foreign guests in Osaka slum


31 Aug 2008
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Well, I wanted to Share the following article. It's quite interesting for people who plan to go to Osaka to study there (like me :) )
When I visited Osaka I saw the typical spots like the castle, Tsutenkaku, the huge Kofun's surroundings, Dotonbori street...
but now that I'm planing to go there for a long time I found curious this article.
Nishinari neighborhood is a good choice to see the ordinary life of Osaka people and to joint it. A place where you can forget that you are a tourist looking for spots and to focus in the Japanese lifestyle, culture and language....

Students point way for foreign guests in Osaka slum

OSAKA--The dingy, tumbledown streets of the Airin district in the city's Nishinari Ward have long worn the poor face of an otherwise wealthy nation.
Thousands of day laborers, many of them elderly and homeless, endure grinding poverty here with occasional shifts on construction sites and other stints of hard labor.
One of Japan's biggest slums, however, has now found an unlikely and potentially lucrative source of revenue: young, foreign tourists looking for cheap accommodation and keen to see another side of the world's second-biggest economy.
To cope with the increase in curious visitors from abroad, a group of students has set up the Foreign Tourist Information Center, a makeshift tourist information center, to provide guidance to some of the more interesting sights in the neighborhood and beyond--including Tsutenkaku, a landmark tower in the Shinsekai district, and the electric town Nipponbashi.
The team of four to five volunteers from the tourism and geography seminar of professor Yoshihisa Matsumura at Hannan University created a temporary office in the remodeled warehouse of the budget lodging house, Business Hotel Chuo, in January. They will stay there throughout February to hand out pamphlets and maps with information about tourist attractions across Osaka.
Airin's many cheap lodging houses, which typically charge between 1,000 and 2,000 yen per night, were once almost exclusively the domain of struggling day laborers who came to the area for work.
At its busiest, in the mid-1980s, the number of day laborers residing in the Airin district stood at 25,000. Now there are just 3,500.
In 2005, 13 lodging house operators launched the Osaka International Guesthouse (OIG) Area organizing committee to devise ways to stay in business. Owing partly to the efforts of Hannan students, who designed a website in English, Chinese and Korean, the volume of foreign visitors to the area increased sharply from 10,000 a year to about 70,000. Most are backpackers who travel on their own.
More than 30 percent of foreign visitors said the area urgently needed a tourist information center, a joint survey conducted in 2006 by the OIG committee and Matsumura seminar found.
Jose Garcia Perez, a 22-year-old student from Barcelona, who visited the office, said, "I came to Osaka to see Osaka Castle but I'd like to visit the Nishinari neighborhood after hearing from the staff members about the area."
"I hope tourists see the ordinary life of Osaka people, not only tourist spots such as Tsutenkaku and the Osaka Castle," said Ryoko Ishibashi, 20, one of the Hannan student volunteers.(IHT/Asahi: February 23,2009)

If for some reason you fancy to know more about "Nishinari", have a look to the following article.
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