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Tokyo highlights rail stations with Taiwan roots

TOKYO -- A tourism activity featuring railway stations that share the same names in both Taiwan and Japan was held in Tokyo yesterday.

Taiwan's Tourism Bureau, the Taiwan Railways Administration and the Taiwan Visitors Association were among the sponsors of the event aimed at promoting tourism exchanges between the two countries.

A total of 32 railway stations, including Songshan (松山) and Banqiao (板橋), can be found in both countries.

The Tourism Bureau also invited Hideki Togi, a famous gagaku (ancient Japanese court music) performer, composer, author and actor to serve as a tourism goodwill ambassador for Taiwan.

Deputy Tourism Bureau Director-General Chang Shi chung alsopresented Togi with a memorial certificate on behalf of Tourism Bureauhead David W.J. Hsieh.

Chang noted that Hsieh met Togi in a round-the-island vintage car rally late last year.

A total of 120 car enthusiasts belonging to the Rally Nippon Foundation, a classic car club that stages an annual tour, toured Taiwan for a week as a show of thanks for the outpouring of sympathy and aid from Taiwan following Japan's disastrous March 2011 earthquake. It was the first time the rally had been staged outside of Japan.

Taiwan donated over US$260 million in aid to Japan in the wake of the earthquake.

Togi said he felt honored to be invited to serve as a Taiwan tourism ambassador.

He said that although he only visited Taiwan for the first time last year, he already felt very close to the country, “as if I could go to Taiwan to eat xiaolongbao (steamed soup dumplings) tomorrow.”

He said that he felt that there is no distance between the two countries, whether in terms of food or architecture.

The communication between the people of the two sides in smiles also shortens the distance, he said.

He added that he would like to give concerts in Taiwan to promote cultural exchanges.

The Taiwan visitors Association's Tokyo branch said it will solicit Japanese people bearing the same names as the 32 railway stations and will select one each for each respective station through a drawing of lots.

The winners will be able to travel to Taiwan to serve as “station masters for a day” and will be given a variety of other treats.

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