J Times Nov 10 06 on tourism promotion, with great Letter to the Ed Nov 19


Hi Blog. Here is an article about another promotion to bring more foreigners over to Japan to spend money as tourists (remember Koizumi’s “Yokoso Japan” campaign?), specifically mentioning onsen as one of the places they want more foreigners to frequent.

Funny they should mention onsens. Friend Hidesato Sakakibara makes a great rejoinder in a Letter to the Editor, questioning the effectiveness of such a campaign when there is no law to protect their rights from racial discrimination once tourists get here.

For the record, the article, Hidesato’s rejoinder, and a comment from me with some links follow.


Japan works on a makeover to attract more Europeans
The Japan Times, Friday, Nov. 10, 2006

LONDON (Kyodo) In an effort to woo younger European travelers, Japanese tourism officials launched a campaign highlighting the country’s contribution to contemporary arts and culture.

Staff at the Japan National Tourist Organization are also hoping to attract spa-lovers by promoting Japan’s many “onsen” (hot springs) and Buddhist retreats.

The campaign “Cool Japan — Fusion with Tradition” officially kicked off at this week’s World Travel Market in London, an annual trade fair that attracts more than 5,000 exhibitors. This year, 202 countries will be there.

The latest promotion follows the successful “Visit Japan Campaign” in Europe in 2003, which helped boost number of tourists traveling to Japan. Britain currently sends the most visitors to Japan from Europe, followed by Germany and France.

As part of the “Cool Japan” campaign, staff are sending out brochures on “manga” (comic books) and animation-related attractions, along with information on Japan’s cutting-edge architectural sights.

This year’s exhibit also highlights the country’s fashion designers and high-tech gadgetry. The information has been compiled into a booklet in association with the Time Out magazine, which has a young readership.

With Japan, however, it’s not all about what’s new and trendy.

This year, representatives from a ryokan are on hand to advise travel agents and tour operators on how to promote traditional forms of leisure. Many Europeans do not think of Japan as place to relax and staff at JNTO are keen to change that.

Kylie Clark, public relations manager at JNTO in London, said the campaign was launched “to make people aware that Japan is much more than geisha, sumo, gardens, temples and Mount Fuji.”

“Through the campaign we wish to highlight that Tokyo, along with New York, Paris and London, is now one of the world’s leading cities when it comes to trends in foods, fashion and popular culture.”

Clark said the aim of the campaign was to “diversify” the types of travelers going to Japan. Currently, the main market is couples over 50 with an interest in Japanese traditional culture such as gardens and temples. JNTO hopes to attract more young couples, singles and families with this year’s promotion. It has already been running an “underground” ad campaign for several weeks.

And in an effort to attract the younger market, JNTO is also promoting the country’s ski resorts. After a series of good reviews by British journalists who tested Japan’s slopes, several tour operators are offering holidays to Japan next year.

JNTO is also keen to encourage more visits by British students and will soon be releasing a booklet they hope will make it easier to set up exchanges between educational institutions in the two countries. (The Japan Times)


Obstacle to increased tourism

Jamaica, New York
The Japan Times, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006

Regarding the Nov. 10 article “Japan works on a makeover to attract more Europeans”: While it is admirable to see the the Japan National Tourist Organization making efforts to draw more foreign tourists, our government officials are omitting one important thing — the promulgation of a law making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race or nationality.

The article states that JNTO staff are “hoping to attract spa-lovers by promoting Japan’s many onsens (hot springs) and Buddhist retreats.” But what about the many onsen that refuse entry to those who don’t look Japanese (including Japanese citizens)? What impression will “young tourists” get when they seek to enter discriminatory bars, hotels, discos, pubs (izakaya) and other spots only to be greeted with the words “Japanese Only?” (The Japan Times)



Well done, Hidesato. We need more people pointing this fact out as often as possible. I keep on doing it, but to some I say it so often (and alone) I probably sound like a warning about cancer on a cigarette box. If others say it as well, it makes the message come from more quarters, and increases credibility (i.e. I’m not just a lonely voice out in the wilderness).

I encourage everyone to keep pointing out the elephant in the room thusly. Thanks again, Hidesato! Debito



The “Yokoso Japan” Campaign, official site

Essay for Miyakodayori (May 23, 2003) on Japan’s nacent tourism drive

Identical irony pointed out by The Guardian (Manchester):
“Suspicious minds: Japan is hoping to boost foreign investment and tourism by promoting the country as a land of hospitality. However, institutional racism and the media’s tendency to blame foreigners for rising crime means many visitors find themselves less than welcome?”
THE GUARDIAN By Justin McCurry Wednesday March 10, 2004

Otaru Onsens Case

Photo gallery of places which refuse foreigners entry:

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