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- Efforts of Katsushika Shibamata Tora-san Memorial Hall
Efforts of Katsushika Shibamata Tora-san Memorial Hall 6-22-19 Shibamata, Katsushika-ku, Tokyo
Using various contents to convey the spirit of Japan
Barrier-free sightseeing facilities enabling people to see, hear, and experience Showa-era Japan
Shibamata, Katsushika is a city with a traditional atmosphere. It is also the setting of Otoko ha Tsurai yo (It's Tough Being a Man), a nationally famous series of Japanese movies. Katsushika Shibamata Tora-san Memorial Hall–a sightseeing facility for experiencing Showa-era Japan–is visited by children, elderly people, foreigners, disabled people, and various other people interested in experiencing the corresponding world view. Yuko Wada, the hall's event planner, talked to us about the hall's specific efforts.
Barrier-free design since the hall was opened
Our hall has had a barrier-free design ever since it was opened in 1997. All of our exhibits are meticulously supervised by Yoji Yamada, the honorary director of Tora-san Memorial Hall. We have approximately 200,000 visitors per year. Many of these people are in their 60s or older, but people in their 30s to 50s have recently started coming with their families as well.
In addition, wheelchair users, visually impaired people, hearing-impaired people, and other disabled people visit our hall as well. In addition to people who come alone, many people come with groups related to day service and facilities for the disabled. I think we see around 80 such people per month on average.
Most of these people come with people who assist them, but our staff members have dealt with groups who made an advance inquiry in the past. In addition, we have also received advance requests from disabled people coming from far away indicating that they would like our staff members to take care of them. In general, we do not provide special support to individuals, but we still provided whatever support we could on the day of the visit. Hearing-impaired people and others also come and enjoy our hall with their friends.
Efforts backed by staff enthusiasm and volunteers
Two staff members who know sign language work at our hall, and one of them has plenty of knowledge and experience. This staff member has been working at our hall for many years, but they actually took classes on their own time to master sign language after deciding that doing so was necessary to properly handle our visitors.
Our building is completely barrier-free and does not have any steps. In addition, there is enough space for wheelchairs to get through. Our hall exhibits have buttons that cause videos to play when pressed, but the buttons are positioned low, and there are both high and low video screens so that they can be easily viewed by wheelchair users as well. Our restrooms are also spacious so that people in wheelchairs can use them.
We also have braille booklets that explain the hall. These were made by volunteers working with the Katsushika Braille Translation Association. Because the number of copies is limited, we loan them out upon request. In addition, we have wheelchairs and strollers that we rent out for free.
In terms of information dissemination, the locations of wheelchair restrooms are clearly indicated on Katsushika maps, and this information is also posted on the Tokyo Sightseeing Accessibility Guide website, which is run by the Bureau of Industrial and Labor Affairs (Tokyo Metropolitan Government).
Tora-san Memorial Hall will continue to evolve
Our number of foreign visitors has recently been increasing. This includes not only our hall but the number of inbound tourists in Shibamata as a whole. In terms of their home region, there is an especially large number of tourists from Southeast Asia. There are also many tourists from China and South Korea.
We currently plan to work on providing multi-language support and setting up electronic bidets in our Western-style restrooms. There is a statue of Tora-san attaching the letters of "Tora-san Memorial Hall" over the entrance, but the last word has not yet been attached. This was Mr. Yamada's idea, and it is intended to emphasize the fact that we are still working on making our hall better. We hope that our facility will always be a place everyone can enjoy without worry.
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