Catch Tourists' Hearts!Kyoto Tower under Transformation9 July 2016 - Sightseeing/Events
Kyoto Tower, a Kyoto landmark in Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, is being transformed. In addition to the change to LEDs (light-emitting diode) for night-time illumination, devices have been installed to the observation deck, access to which has a fee, to provide an on-screen guide to shrines, temples and tourist facilities that can be observed from above. Thanks to the increase in foreign tourists, the number of visitors to the observation deck exceeded the long-cherished 500,000 people in fiscal 2015. The "high-tech" improvement is expected to attract even more visitors.
On the observation deck at 100 meters above the ground, visitors can compare the landscape spreading below their eyes with the airborne images displayed on the monitor under their hands. When they tap major sightseeing spots such as Kiyomizu-dera Temple, "Kinkaku-ji," or the Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle, and so on, a captioned photo of that facility pops up.
Under the concept of "information service from above," eight touch-screen tourist information monitors have been installed on the observation deck. The large screens of 142 centimeters wide and 88 centimeters high are full of various high-tech functions.
When the image is dragged with a finger, just as in operating a smartphone, a 180-degree range, both to the left and right, is shown, starting from the landscape directly in front, providing a 360-degree view. In addition to displaying the captions to 51 facilities, the monitors are equipped with the digital zooming functions to show photos of some facilities observed from the ground. The service is also provided in English, Chinese and Korean.
Operating the screen, a tourist who visited the tower cheerfully said, "It's easy to view, and I can get accurate locations and information. It's rather exciting."
Last March, Kyoto Tower replaced the halogen lights with LEDs for its illumination. The colors of the lights can be switched instantly between white, blue, red, pink, etc. In the lighting ceremony, the sequential color changes fascinated residents of the city.
Changes are not limited to the exterior. Since this year, a decoration depicting "Tawawa-chan," or the tower's mascot, has been placed on the wall of the observation deck. The floor has been covered in a new carpet with a design of the four guardian deities, as well as flowers. The interior has been transformed gorgeously.
Behind the aggressive investment is the increasing number of visitors. Foreign travelers visiting Japan have boosted the total number of visitors, with 522,000 visitors in fiscal 2015, showing an 11.7 % increase over the previous fiscal year. Reportedly, it was for the first time in 20 years, since fiscal 1995, that the number surpassed 500,000. Of that, the number of foreigner visitors was 88,000, or a 1.8 percent increase, and a rise to 17 % of the total number of visitors.
Masato Ogawa, the tower's president, said, "We are aimed at making the tower the center of information, so that people will say, 'When you go to Kyoto, visit Kyoto Tower first.'"(translated by Galileo, Inc.)