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Japan gov't eyes new law to draw more tourists to museums

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For the life of me I dont understand why a "law" is needed here. Seems to me like a no-brainer kind of project that should be undertaken anyway.

What are they going to do if municipalities dont follow the "law" prosecute them and put them in jail? I think not!

18 ( +22 / -4 )

For the life of me I dont understand why a "law" is needed here. 

Perhaps the word policy might have been used instead of the word law to describe the various subsidies and incentives being provided by the government. I'm guessing that this might be a question of literal translation, and law was chosen where a more nuanced English word would have been a better fit. Nothing more.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

If you visit Japan it's the Law to visit a meausum and a resort Casino, just wait for the 20m high statue of our dear Leader. Why is the government waiting time on this.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Japanese authorities show little understanding of the foreign tourist...

10 ( +13 / -3 )

How about:

1) Not limiting the JR pass to consecutive days. If you could break them up it would encourage tourists to stop and explore.

2) A rural rail pass, Like the JR Rail pass but cheaper and only for use on local rail lines outside of the city centers. Tie this with free access to museums and local attractions. Make them available at JR offices with a tourist visa, with the ability to purchase multiple individual days travel.

3) Work with the locals and publish a website of day trip, or 1 or 2 day self-guided excursions from city centers. Include all relevant information on transport, attractions etc. Encourage them to use the pass mentioned in #2

4) Subsidize quality translation work with native speakers at the target rural attractions. No one wants to make the effort of travelling a reasonable distance to see a museum/attraction, and then not understand what on earth they are looking at.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Having visited some “regional” museums here I am pretty sure it is not a lack of access that is keeping people away. With a few exceptions most of them just really aren’t that interesting or enjoyable.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Stupidist thing I've ever heard from a government. Stupidest. Stupidest. Stupidest.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I agree with all he above. LAW? Kasumigaseki has nothing else to do than to enact laws? They must be feeling the pressure of 7 years of wasted time. This is their legacy!?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Financial support will also be given to those facilities so they can improve Wi-Fi access, offer multilingual services and accept cashless payments for ticket purchases

I'm sorry, I must be missing the point here. How is this going to benefit me as a tourist (when I travel to these places)? To get better wifi, pay with a card or my phone app or information in English?

Heres the problem with this! Here in Japan most people have decent reception on their phones and if they don't, they have a pocket wifi. Cash is still accepted everywhere and thanks to Google translate or whatever Language translation apps of devices out there it makes things easier.

So......how will this "LAW" benefit people?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Good for them to do this.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

So......how will this "LAW" benefit people?

Since when did Abe govt give a toss about "people"/

This is about keeping the buraucratic pen pushers busy ( supposedly ) and making sure the budget for JNTO and Cultural Affairs Agency is spent so more can be requested next financial year for dubious projects.

We can always have another tax increase to get more dough.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I am actually curious if they had a ranking of the most visited museums here by foreign tourists. It seems like the Nissin and Ghibli ones would be high up there.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

For the life of me I dont understand why a "law" is needed here. Seems to me like a no-brainer kind of project that should be undertaken anyway.

Well, actually, legislation is really required for a well-functioning government to undertake new activities that are not specifically permitted by already passed legislation.

This ensures that the actions undertaken by a government arise from the duly approved acts / laws / legislation permitting it.

Once the activity is authorised via legislation, funding for it then can be covered through an appropriations bill or as part of ongoing appropriations legislation.

I hate it when leaders of governments and bureaucracies feel as though they can do whatever they want without it being properly legislated / authorised.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The "Yushukan" is also a museum although it is a military one! Is that what Abe-san is referring to about  'The Plan"?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I guess this is based on the assumption that there are hidden gems everywhere that people would go to and really enjoy if only

there was a free or heavily subsidized bus to get there and back.

if everything there was properly explained in X languages

if there was wi-fi there to post on Instagram

they could pay the entrance fee with some cashless thing that is not a credit card (setting up Square does not cost enough to need subsidies)

Again the assumption is that whatever this facility is, it's a hidden gem that people would go to if the taxpayer just made it easier for them. In many cases, that will be a very big assumption. Some of these museums etc. will also be private, which begs the question of why the taxpayer doesn't just bus people to some inaka prefecture, say Shimane's, best ramen restaurant or onsen. I'm sure they would give tourists a good time too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

all they have to do is make the entrance free instead of subsidies. Of which the largest part will be used for unintended purposes.

can do the same for temples.

no, I do not mind paying for museums because I can but many people in Japan can’t or won’t pay a 1000 or 2000 yen.

I will never pay to see a temple though.

There should be donation boxes for those who wish to pay for museums and temple entrances. And better management instead of government cronies in charge.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's like the cross party Pannel who's big concern was pushing Inca songs on a population with no interest in inca music. It's just a dubious justification for garnishing money. Old men looking to funnel tax money into bad business models. And there are a whole lot of bad businesses that are disfuncianal. If you want tourists might be a good idea to be interesting? But that's way too far out of the box for someone getting the average yearly wage a month to comprehend.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The headline makes it sounds as if the government will force tourists to visit museums at gunpoint!

You MUST see the curry museum in Yokohama.

With the exception of Kyoto, who don't want any more tourists taking pictures.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's just Bill submitted to the Diet, like any other country. The "Law" is no different than legislation passed by a legislature to fund and prescribe the manner and purpose for the funding.

Any funding bill passed is a law and the semantics of the headline is irrelevant. There must be a lot of children posting here, so I'll explain it to you kids.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I really don't get this. I don't. People are not going to want to go to rural places just because "laws" are made for it. A woman I know converted her old, large home in rural Yamaguchi Prefecture into a B&B, and collected all sorts of signatures from her hometown (where her brother is mayor and pushing for this) to get support from the government, then finally gave me (as a test foreigner) a big tour package plan to look at and get my advice. It went something like this:

1) Pay for shinkansen tickets to nearest station, then a shuttle bus (tour can only be done for a medium to large group) for several hours to her house.

2) That night, they have a BBQ with neighbors in the community, on her large property, whose trees have been trimmed to look like characters from Tonari no Tottoro. If the weather is poor, a nabe party will be held indoors.

3) On the second day, people can visit the local museum, which is a small house that features nothing in particular (my take, not hers).

4) That night, they can experience chestnut picking and then roast them and eat them at the local chestnut specialist.

The guests sleep in three or four large rooms on individual futons, and there is a shared bathroom as well as a separate toilet.

Cost: around ¥50,000.

While I was impressed by her motivation and her passion, I told her I'm sorry, but I would not be interested in such a trip, nor would any tourists visiting Japan short term, but she might want to focus on more long term residents or workers who live and work in the big cities, including Japanese (although, again, I said I am not interested even though I am in the permanent resident boat). She cried, and said I have no idea what people want, and I've never heard from her since, though I heard she tried to recruit students through a local NGO to do her tour, and no one signed up. The point is that the government and such people need to stop telling tourists what they SHOULD want to go and see. It's quite clear what they want to go see, and unfortunately it's the tried and true big cities and the temples and areas that surround them, with a few exceptions. Niche tours will never work when it's the vested interests of the locals and not an actual appeal to any niche.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

They want more tourists? Try looking at your own nationals first.

How about lowering JR Shinkansen prices first, so that local people can travel easily within Japan on trips?

How about companies allow workers to take more time off and give them more money to spend on venturing around Japan so that more money can be spent, thus boosting the economy?

Foreigners visiting already have their mind up on what they want to do and see. They aren't going to be just wandering around hoping to find a random museum around a foreign land.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Brilliant story smithinjapan and exactly what is going on here.

People are using international tourism to get the Japanese government to pay for stuff that personally benefits them. There will be no cost/benefit analysis. Connected individuals will just keep saying "inbound", the Japanese word for international tourists, and expect the public coffers to open for them based solely on the assumption that more tourists must benefit everyone.

The magic phrase to get money out of the national government used to be "seikatsu no kiban", base infrastructure to support communities. That was the expression used when the highways and bridges to nowhere were built. The new magic word is "inbound". The taxpayer is now on the hook for all manner of stuff because someone says inbound, who've not been consulted, might want it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is a joke right? Right?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Unfortunately the JT readers are not the best crowd to discuss inbound policies with. Some opinions are a good feedback, but in general there's some fundamental lack of understanding of the strategies and aims regarding tourism.

First of all, this article doesn't give good examples of what Bunkacho will provide funding for. By the way, these type of improvements are standard for Bunkacho's existence and budget, and like it or not, the ideas are all good. There are some quite good museums in the countryside which lack multilingual support, modern presentation, WiFi, accessibility, and in general look too Showa. Bunkacho wants to modernize the museums so that visitors can discover something more than just Cup Noodle Museum or Ghibli Museum in Japan. The government has an obligation to preserve and promote its cultural heritage.

Second, the suggestion to make entrance fees free is actually contrary to where the government is heading. Due to some advices from foreign consultants, the future will be towards increasing significantly the entrance fees (and not only for museums, but also for Kyoto temples, for example). This is because the consultants have pointed out at the prices of museums in London, Paris, Madrid, Vienna and compared to that, Japan's entrance fees are indeed low. Recently there has been a lot of work for comparing the touristic assets of Japan to those abroad and trying to raise the value (again, not only for facilities; for example, they're also actively trying to compare their national parks to those in USA). The average spending per tourist in Japan has been stuck on 150 000 JPY for quite some years, and the government wants to raise it. Normally, any country would want. Personally, I have serious objections against comparing museums in Japan to those in London and Paris and raising the fees based on a sole comparison, but the government listens to other consultants.

Thirdly, I don't agree with the opinions in the story above from Yamaguchi. The majority of visitors from Asia are repeaters and yes, they go to Yamaguchi, and Shimane, and even more out-of-the-way places, and such packages are perfect for them (well, the price is a bit too high, but I have to see the house). In Okayama some renovated old houses have become role models for inbound tourism with a great success among Asian travelers. Western travelers also like rural places; it all depends on how the local place is marketed and incorporated in the larger itinerary. But I can list numerous occasions of such rural facilities offering rural experiences with success - some of them are even owned by foreigners. With the lack of hotels in many countryside places, this is the right way to go.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

5 nights in Taipei last week cost much less than 3 nights in Kyoto last month. 64% cheaper.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Where is the obvious way to increase draws to museums. Keep them open into the evening hours so people working can go at night. Night hours on weekends means people would have choices of night entertainment beyond booze, food, and shopping.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

When i started reading the article, I thought they were going to impose a law that states all tourists must visit a certain number of museums or something. It wouldn’t be so far fetched for the Japanese government ;)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A law to make people visits museum and places of interest? Haw, haw! These bureaucrats aren't happy if they are not forcing someone to do something.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Where is the obvious way to increase draws to museums. Keep them open into the evening hours so people working can go at night.

Museums can be scary places at night. Dinosaurs, neanderthals and little toy cowboys and Roman regions all come to life.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The British Museum in London has an Egyptian mummy gallery. Overnight, the security guards refuse to enter and check the gallery.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A few observations to make...

Firstly, "inbound", isn't the Japanese word for international tourists; it's a standard tourism industry term for foreign visitors coming to any country.

Phoenixikki says that museum prices are likely to go up "because the consultants have pointed out the prices of museums in London..."

Hmm.. let's check these London prices:

British Museum - FREE

National Gallery - FREE

Natural History Museum - FREE

Science Museum - FREE

V&A - FREE

Tate & Tate Modern - FREE

So if consultants have looked at London Museum prices, they should recognise that Japan's museum prices are too high and should be either much lower - or free - to attract more tourists. The idea of a law to promote tourism to rural museums is just baffling and can surely only be something to occupy bureaucrats' time and attention. Plans to bus in tourists to such museums can only work if the museums offer something that foreign tourists want.

The rural facility and experience idea can definitely work and does so currently but there has to be something of interest for foreign tourists that makes it sufficiently viable as an ongoing concern. I am a specialist in Japan travel and regularly meet with local tourism boards from all over the country to discuss how they can attract more visitors. In general, I find that their focus is on lower budget groups, which is not at all my market, although I think they cater for that demographic reasonably well. For me the issue is in edging them towards a better understanding of what the luxury market needs and that's more of an uphill battle.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Bob Slefty,

I need to find again my source about the London comparison, I'm pretty sure there was something from there, the others were famous museums in Europe. There was even a table showing the prices of facilities in the West on the left side, and prices of facilities in Japan on the right side. If you're a "specialist in Japan travel", you should know who I'm referring to and where to find it. ;)

Certainly the comparison they're making is not to free places.

I disagree with you about the museum promotion initiative. There are plenty of facilities worth visiting in the countryside (both private and public), and since you're in the industry you've surely visited them, I can list just a few which I personally found worth visiting: Towada Art Museum, Kyushu Ceramics Museum, Rias Ark Museum, Kubota Itchiku Museum, Okinawa Peace Museum, Toto museum in Kitakyushu, etc, etc, etc. So many.

As for the local tourism boards, things have changed since the appearance of DMOs. My experience is rather the opposite, that they're trying too hard to sell to the luxury market, failing to realize that if someone spends 250 000 JPY on 2 days in Shimane, they're likely not going or doing anything else. Sustainable growth comes neither from the low budget Chinese groups, nor from the occasional VIP, but from the middle-class regular travelers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why the law ? I understand. A people who are so used to always being told what to do, and lack of spontaneity or initiative, will always need legislation, thats why they think even foreigners need to be corralled to conform.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thou shalt visit a museum. So let it be written, so let it be done. Bwahahahaha

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Phoenixikki

Gomen, I didn't mean to suggest that rural museums aren't worth visiting; I completely agree that many are excellent. What I don't see as viable is a plan to bus in foreign tourists to such places. The tourists have to be there in the first place.

I also agree that sustainable growth in the rural areas will come from the middle range regular travellers. For the sort of clients I deal with, 250,000 per night is common, never mind two nights, but getting such people to Shimane in the first place is half the issue. Most of the high net worth clients I have visit Japan just once and don't have time or inclination to visit the countryside unless there is a strong reason to draw them there. A museum on its own isn't enough and a good deal of my time is spent finding people who can offer unique, one of a kind experiences that I can offer my clients so I can get them out of the major tourist spots and into less well trodden territory. The DMO problem is that although they are trying to appeal to the luxury market, they still don't quite get it yet but I do think we're getting there.

I do know that my little world of Japan travel isn't the typical one and is definitely niche. I've been doing this now for 12 years and in that time have seen the number of foreign visitors skyrocket and Japan become immeasurably easier for a non Japanese speaking tourist to visit. It's all going to continue and although I'm definitely not thinking of busloads of Chinese tourists when I say this, I'm happy that more and more people each year are able to experience the wonder and beauty of Japan for themselves.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Are there museums in rural areas?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I really wonder whether the government has actually asked tourists what their wants/needs are before going through with this. There also needs to be a greater focus on re-developing the domestic market.

smithinjapan's example above is something which could have been successful if planned and pitched correctly. I have read that 1-2 night agricultural tours are reasonably popular with the young domestic market, with city dwellers wishing to sample village life (i.e. rice planting, fruit picking etc). It obviously would be seasonal though and not provide a stable income for the operator. The trick is pricing it correctly and giving a number of options of activities from the base location. Drop the Inaka museum from the itinerary and it sounds like the location is just wrong.

The location needs to be less than 90-120 minutes from a city centre. No one wants to take 2 days off for an adventure, then spend a full day traveling to get there.

50,000 yen is pretty steep, but a large portion of that cost would be made up of transport costs. There should be an accommodation/activity only cost.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My problem with the word "inbound" is that it has become a Japanese buzzword that people use over and over again to appear knowledgable. As here, it is now being used to justify schemes that use public money with scant cost-benefit analysis.

There will be a certain number of visitor attractions in Japan that are not up to scratch and could do with some help. If you believe the reviews, these include the Tomioka Silk Factory, which was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site five and a half years ago. I think that this example shows the scale of the problem. If somewhere with five years of free WHS power-branding that's just off the Kan'etsu can't get it right, how much public money is going to have to go into other ones that have less appeal and are far more out of the way? Aside from museums, the story mentions "theaters and music halls". What kind of music hall in inaka would tourists what to go to? One with a visiting Takarazuka B team show? Some C list comics from Yoshimoto?

I live in inaka myself and love it, but I seriously doubt whether inaka should be viewed as a place you visit to go to museums, theaters, and music halls. I don't understand why inaka has be promoted for that and not on its own merits.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Been to a rural meausum cost ¥1,000 and was full of apparently rare Japanese glass wear? I was interested but after 5 min found myself outside. Having seen nothing but well presented rubbish. I'm thinking this inishitave is to subsidise new shelves rather then encourage any actual viewing of historical things. But as I'm not related to a politician nor live in a rural area or can vote with 3 votes guess it's money well spent...for shelves

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@zones2surf has it right. A government agency has to be legally authorized to spend money for specific purposes otherwise you get adverse press coverage and taxpayer law suits. Such cases have in fact been covered in stories appearing in Japan Today.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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