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Undiscovered Japan

11 Comments

Prominent Japanologist Alex Kerr (center) and prefecture "ambassadors" from across Japan attend a press event on Fridayto promote the launch of Japan's newest tourism boost project "Undiscovered Japan." The initiative, organised by the Japan Travel Agency, aims at promoting tourism to regions in Japan other than the standard tourism destinations.

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Whenever I've ventured into "Undiscovered Japan," the average age of the residents is about 90. And it can be really hard to find things like restaurants (that aren't closed for inexplicable reasons or boarded up) and accommodation. Some of the "business hotels" in the hinterlands can be really eerie.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While I agree that one should not read the book as a precursor to a visit,

Oh yes, it should. It is all that is and is not what one should read.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Peter Payne: " Steer clear of it if you want to enjoy your future years here."

While I agree that one should not read the book as a precursor to a visit, it DOES present a lot of good points that many people deny exist, or don't realize but might need to if they want to remain here, or in terms of knowing certain facets of culture in relation to those of other nations. It's knowledge, and knowledge is always a good thing. "Ignorance is bliss" would be the alternative, and even then you'd have to try pretty hard to remain that way.

In any case, I love visiting places that are off the beaten path, especially now that Japan has become more of a tourist mecca than ever before. BUT, one of the reasons such places retain their charm is that they remain "undiscovered" and "off the beaten path". Even places that are open to and expect throngs of tourists are struggling to deal with the influx of foreign and domestic visitors, with many as well complaining about everything from overcrowding to bad manners. I doubt many 'inaka' locations would be equipped to deal with even a slight influx. As well, they have to carefully guage, through trial and error (free trials, for that matter), which sights are appealing to tourists, and not leave it to the locals to decide "what foreigners will be interested in", as I've experienced this many times, as has the nation, and found that the 'omotenashi' or whatever falls short of being interesting at all (for me). Local spots will be quick to push their place and products, but they might not be appealing (or might be), so they need to do research, first.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I wondered how they attract tourists to the Japan's undiscoverd areas. Maybe the matching of supply and demand will be important.

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Peter

Depressing? You got that right. And outrageous. And poignant. And reverential. And a call to action for everyone who loves this country, its past, present and future. One of my and my wife's (who is from Kyoto) favorite Japan-related books.

When my friends, colleagues and acquaintances who have never been to Japan ask me what book to read before visiting, I without hesitation recommend Dogs and Demons. It is not that D'ND best explains Japan. In it's own way it does. It just generates so many questions in the unfamiliar reader's mind to perfectly prime him or her for the all that we know and love about Japan.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Dogs and Demons, the most depressing book on Japan ever. Steer clear of it if you want to enjoy your future years here.

(While in Kyoto I happened to stay in a machiya that had been renovated by Alex. Glad he's back in Japan, hopefully he'll write a second book that won't be as depressing.)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Let's see how long it takes them to become a voice for those places they want to call 'Undiscovered Japan'. Then we can comment on what their attention to those places brings about. Can't wait, myself. Being a critic is easy. Patience isn't.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's good to spread the tourist money around. You can see lots of history and traditions in the provinces. Tourist money can help some traditions to survive.

I would just take issue with such places being called the "real Japan", because that applies to everywhere in the country.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

He's written more than that, as opposed to, well, you know who...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Alex Kerr is a realist. not a Japanologist. Have you read Dogs and Demons whoever wrote the caption?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wonderful news - there's so much to discover. This will stimulate the domestic (non-inbound) market, too.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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