Photo: Imabari District Sightseeing Association
travel

Japan’s tourism ‘fails’ make it perfect travel destination

10 Comments
By Victoria Vlisides

It’s a mantra repeated by every traveler — no matter the destination: “I want to avoid the touristy spots.” 

If that’s the case, then Japan is your dreamland. And yes, even Tokyo has plenty of spots to discover that tourists rarely set foot in — shout out to my current stomping grounds of Nerima. Yet how can that be when tourism is quite literally booming in Japan with over 24 million visitors in 2016?

Japan has seen a spike foreign travelers (especially to its cities) since about 2013, but this vast country, for the most part, is anything but touristy. Undisputedly, the country offers a lot to attract tourists, but I would argue it wholeheartedly fails at producing “touristy” places (besides the obvious formulas of theme parks like Disney) because it hasn’t exactly figured out how to cater to foreign tourists — both a blessing and a curse.

That’s simultaneously thanks and no thanks to the Japanese government, which — as an aside — continues to pass laws that seem like fake news but are 100 percent legit. A prime example? The fining of tattoo artists, who, according to a 2001 law, have to be qualified medical professionals. Want a traditional Japanese irezumi (tattoo)? See a doctor. Wait… what?

This type of “logic” also comes through in the government’s so-very misguided tourism efforts that often edge on parody.

Don’t get me wrong — there are recent bright spots. Even the spectacular Ehime Prefecture photo accompanying this article is from a website, Find 47, by the  Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) with free, usable and utterly awesome photos.

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

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10 Comments
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Meanwhile, here in my hometown of Shinjuku in Tokyo, some days you walk from Alta to Isetan and not hear any Japanese at all. You hear Chinese, Korean, English, Vietnamese, and lots of other languages. But this makes Shinjuku feel totally international. And it is fun helping lost tourists get where they want to go. I admire that now they come alone, not with tour guides, and make their way through the city.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It’s a mantra repeated by every traveler — no matter the destination: “I want to avoid the touristy spots.” 

Then why are the tourist spots so darn crowded? Clearly, not every traveller is avoiding them.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

No, tourists want to go to 'touristy spots'. They want the photos, something to tick off their list of holiday experiences.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No, tourists want to go to 'touristy spots'. They want the photos, something to tick off their list of holiday experiences.

Exactly...just look at how many queries on travel forums are along the lines of what are the 3 must see things in Tokyo, Kyoto, etc.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I like both the tourist hot spots and the hard to find, obscure places. When it comes to the former, though, I'm easily tired and often wonder why I bother. But then, so much beauty and history still can't be ruined by the tourists. Yet.

As for the latter; it's one of the sheer joys of living here.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don't understand why, at crowded "touristy" places such as in the "Little Edo" part of Kawagoe, or on the road from Hasedera to Daibutsu in Kamakura, they don't think to close the streets(or at least some of the streets), to car traffic.

On any weekend, at these places, you will see thousands of people hemmed in along the side of road like cattle. Meanwhile, the much larger road space is occupied by just a few people stuck in their cars - also not moving. This is so disrespectful to the majority of people walking and an incredibly inefficient use of space.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"traditional Japanese irezumi (tattoo)"

Maybe it's beside the point of the article but does the author of this realize that irezumi is NOT the Japanese word for tattoo. They're two different things, that's why there's a katakana word for tattoo.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Maybe it's beside the point of the article but does the author of this realize that irezumi is NOT the Japanese word for tattoo. They're two different things, that's why there's a katakana word for tattoo.

Um, sorry, but that's not correct. Most sento have signs saying 入れ墨のある方ご縁量ください (people with irezumi please refrain from coming in) or something along those lines, and they won't let in people with tattoos whether they are Japanese (irezumi) or not.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Very true Stangerland. I guess it's just me being a bit of a pedant. The depth and method of inking 入れ墨/刺青 is different from tattoos - but you're right - to the average peson the end result looks the same.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are plenty of places to see just off the beaten track, but for most visitors, Japan a one-off trip so they understandably want to see the top sites.

But foreigners also get to all sorts of places - I once stayed in a resort hotel in Kiroro, Hokkaido in summer. Absolutely full of Chinese.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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