Tokyo rickshaw operator resumes English classes ahead of tourist reopening

A rickshaw operator in Tokyo's major tourist spot of Asakusa has resumed English lessons for its staff ahead of Japan's planned resumption of accepting foreign tourists.

Japan plans to accept tourists from 98 countries and regions designated as low-risk areas in terms of COVID-19 infections from June 10.

Tourists will be limited to those on package tours attended by guides.

The rickshaw operator resumed its English lessons last month. It is also again providing rickshaw pullers with local guide materials in English.

The operator has been in the business for about 25 years. It stopped offering rides two years ago, when the number of foreign tourists plunged due to the pandemic.

On Wednesday, a puller who started the job less than a month ago practiced speaking English using a textbook. He said he's looking forward to showing local tourist spots to foreigners, and that he's anxious about his command of English.

The company says that due to the pandemic, sales last year and two years ago were down nearly 70 percent from pre-pandemic levels.

The company's owner, Fujiwara Hidenori, said they hope to work to recover the losses of the past two years while taking adequate antivirus measures. He added that they hope rickshaws will help Japan reunite with other parts of the world.