千曲市の初めてのインバウンド研修会 Chikuma City's 1st Inbound Study Session

2012.01.15: 活動 Activities

Mr. Tokyo Banana (?) Shimizu-sensei's talk








もう一つなインバウンドの面白い現象の話があった。京都で私の憧れているAlex Kerrさんが古い町家をレスキューして、観光客に一晩10万円で宿泊施設として提供している。安売りゲストハウスは雑草のように増えている(最近は京都だけではなくてこの長野県にも!)背景の中で町家の価値は海外からの観光客に理解されている。



Today Chikuma City held its first-ever Inbound Study Session. Even the mayor was present, so it looks like the city is serious about attracting foreign visitors.

The speaker was Rikkyou U's Shimizu-sensei. His list of various accomplishments and appointments is impressively long. But what stood out for me was the revelation that he's the one responsible for bringing Tokyo Banana, the metropolis' ubiquitous souvenir, to fame.

Shimizu-sensei's main point was that we shouldn't just focus on accommodation and/or sightseeing places, but that local shops and farm produce are just as, if not more, important.

Our onsen town Togura-Kamiyamada has a healthy share of unique local shops, like pottery and miso. There's a clothing shop with Japanese articles popular with foreigners, a stained glass shop where visitors can make their own crafts, and so much more. For eateries, not many towns can beat Togura-Kamiyamada's selection of gourmet restaurants. And that's not to mention the entertainment -- everything from a piggy bank museum and drag show theater to real geisha.

However, each and every one of those shops likely has heavy issues to deal with, such as whether or not the next generation will come back to continue the businesses. Shimizu-sensei said it's important for the town to consider demographics 20 years from now -- to create job opportunities for graduates as well as instilling pride in the town to our school children.

Regarding supporting local farmers, not only does that allow us inns to supply the freshest and safest product to our guests, but Shimizu-sensei mentions it also keeps the farms vibrant and avoids empty fields blighting the vicinity.

I was encouraged to hear a story Shimizu-sensei shared about Kyoto. He works closely with someone I look up to, Alex Kerr, to rescue 'machiya' townhouses and turns them into places for tourists to stay -- at 10,000 yen per night! Despite the proliferation of cheap guesthouses (they've even started to show up in Nagano), guests from overseas apparently appreciate the value of these machiya.

During the talk, another participant asked about the attractivenes of the Obasute night view tour for foreigners. Sensei actually had the mike given to me for my opinion. Based on my experience with our guests, I replied that if there is a good story to go with the tour then the guests appreciate it. Sensei agreed, saying such a story makes the experience that much more personal for the participants.

After the talk, Shimizu-sensei came and said he'd seen me on television and was glad to meet me in person. I, too, was excited to meet the Tokyo Banana guy.


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