OSAKA--Shen Hongxia is one reason why Chinese tourist numbers in Osaka are recovering following last year's Great East Japan Earthquake.
Shen, 35, who is in charge of marketing at the Osaka Convention and Tourism Bureau, is using the Chinese micro-blogging service "weibo" to spread the word about points of interest in Osaka.
The popularity of her posts is due to her perspective as a Chinese national looking at Osaka as well as her detailed responses to questions she receives.
Her daily posts to the QQ weibo service provide a slice of Osaka life, such as a photo of a jet flying above skyscrapers through the blue sky, accompanied by Chinese comments, such as "zaoan" (good morning).
Shen, who is originally from Shanghai, came to Japan to study at Nara Women's University after developing an interest in Japanese culture. She joined the bureau in 2010.
She opened the bureau’s official Twitter account in Chinese in February 2011. The account now has about 130,000 followers.
Shen said the weibo micro-blogging services transmitted through computer servers in China were more effective than Japanese Internet sites for a Chinese audience because some sites are blocked or take time to view.
The QQ weibo service is especially popular among younger Chinese. The Osaka account was given an award by Tencent, the Chinese company that operates the QQ weibo service, for quality of information provided and interaction with viewers.
Rather than simply provide common tourism information, Shen ventures out into the streets of Osaka in search of what Chinese people might find interesting. She takes photos of her discoveries and posts them on the weibo site.
The photos that received many views included characters in full-body costumes at a tourism event and a sale at a used book store.
She posted the photo of the blue sky over Osaka because, she says, such a sight is rare in Chinese cities that have bad air pollution.
The number of foreign tourists to the Kansai region fell dramatically after last year's Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident.
Although Shen posted about the safety of Osaka, she said viewers continued to ask her about the dangers of radiation in Osaka even until late last year.
However, things are starting to turn around, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.
In April, foreign visitors to Japan had recovered to a level that was 0.9 percent less than the figure for April 2010, a year before the Great East Japan Earthquake.
The number of younger tourists from China as well as repeat visitors has also increased.
And there has been a shift in interest from shopping to Japanese culture and lifestyle, Shen says.
"There is a different beauty for each of the seasons even in the same tourist spot, and I also want to transmit information about Osaka's culture and human-interest stories," she says.
Adding with a laugh, "I also cannot forget about the food here."
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