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Japan has not actively marketed its outstanding natural environment.

19 Comments

Tomohiko Sawayanagi, a specially appointed professor of hotel management at Rikkyo University. The Environment Ministry is working on the branding of national parks in order to capitalize on Japan’s natural environment as a tourism resource. It plans to select model areas by next spring where visitors can enjoy high-quality nature experiences while staying at a luxury hotel.

© Yomiuri Shimbun

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Sure you can market and brand it to the ignorant, such as those who think all the plantation is natural forest and the concrete is natural rock (or wood). But as the conservationist Aldo Leopold wrote: “one of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen.”

5 ( +15 / -10 )

I have the solution. Declare all of nature in Japan a UN World Heritage Asset. That'll do it.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

PR needs good photos, but that's kind of difficult as Japanese landscapes are so often blighted by the excessive use of gray concrete (not even painted) in the countryside, prefabricated boxy buildings and huge webs of cables looming over the streets of rural towns and villages.

Highly selective cropping is needed.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Lots of outstanding natural beauty in Japan.

Just spent the weekend in a deep Shikoku mountain area - as I've done many times over the years.

Even in such remote places though, as Jefflee says, we see puzzling de-spoiling of the scenery with inappropriate buildings, constructions, lines etc.

Imagine our surprise last Saturday while driving on a lovely winding river valley road and turning the corner to see a small hamlet with a large concrete factory perched overlooking the river. One of the most polluting industries in a prime position in nature. Like wth.

Discussing this with folks here over the years, there has been some common responses to the effect -

"What power lines?"

"We don't notice that"

"Yes - but the nature is beautiful"

"Jobs are important"

etc, etc.

But yes- Japan needs to astutely market it's natural offerings to those who would truly appreciate it.

It doesn't need more mega-sightseeing bus tours on narrow roads in sensitive areas.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

@browny1 You probably went to Shikoku's Iya Valley, didn't you? That area is considered as Japan's real last frontier!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

You probably went to Shikoku's Iya Valley, didn't you?

I'm so jealous! That valley and the Sanuki region is where I really want to go...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

You probably went to Shikoku's Iya Valley, didn't you? That area is considered as Japan's real last frontier!

Shhh! Already too many people know about it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Is the beauty of a bonsai tree natural? In the same way that women used to wear clamps on their feet to keep them small. The treatment of a bonsai tree could be perceived as torture. Constantly being cut, tied, bound, and starved into what someone once decided was beautiful.

That aside, the countryside can seem rich in nature, but it's destroyed for me when you can't see the milky way from anywhere in mainland Japan. You're never that far away from something concrete or electrical.

Also, you can see an abundance of raccoon dogs, foxes, monkeys and deer. But, you never see squirrels, rabbits, or chipmunks. Variety of birds is also lonely sometimes. Too many crows.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I've lived in the Japanese countryside for over 30 years and I can't even begin to tell you how much of it has been tainted and destroyed but unnecessary concrete and infrastructure. My tiny city looks so different from it looked like just 10 years ago.

I visited a river which I used to live next to back in the early 70s and it's almost unrecognizable from what my memory had of it and the pictures I possess. A grassy slope with a couple of big trees with me and my dad playing in the pristine, natural river in the background. Now, it's been completely concreted over and have these rectangular blocks thrown in it and you'd get hurt if you even tried walking through it or swimming there. NOBODY ever swims there anymore. Even the grassy knoll and trees are gone.

If they're going to market the "natural" environment, they'd better seriously think about keeping it that way.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The problem with "marketing" the outstanding natural environment is that the most beautiful areas are difficult to access. If you don't have a driver's license, public transportation options are poor. That trouble is compounded assuming that travelers have limited time available - if you need to spend a full day to get somewhere because buses run only twice a day, and then spend a full day to get home, that cuts into the time you have available to enjoy your destination.

If we're talking about marketing to overseas tourists, the other problem is the language barrier - the further away from the cities you get, the more likely you are to have major communication problems if you don't speak Japanese.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Seigi -

No this time was to the west of Iya Valley - Niyodo River area, famously called Niyodo Blue.

A little hint of it's offering @ Niyodo Blue Japan.Travel

6 ( +6 / -0 )

turning the corner to see a small hamlet with a large concrete factory perched overlooking the river.

Yes, browny1, I have driven a lot in Japan, and taken trains, and in my experience this is not at all uncommon. There seems to be no beautiful river valley that can't be "enhanced" by a cement works, grey concrete wall, building, embankment, dam or pillar, corrugated building, pointless signage or tetrapods, even the base of cliffs! And, as you say, nobody seems to notice. Is there even a concept of "eyesore." But surely the outstanding eyesores are the sugi/hinoki plantations because of the pointless, wilful destruction they represent. Though, at least they are living, though not inside.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Where I live, many new houses are being built and have been just sitting there for the past 6+ months without any buyers. And yet, they went and took down the nice little patch of plum trees that was in front of my house after they had already destroyed other sakura and persimmon trees that were nearby. Why are they doing this? We don't need more ugly houses, I sacrificed my commuting time just so that I can enjoy the little bit of nature the suburbs has to offer and now it is almost completely gone. Before you market nature, how bout preserving it?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Japan markets Tokyo and Fuji. Kyoto too. That’s it. Everything else has to be word of mouth from other visitors. All the efforts for tourists in Japan are very Japanese focused and minded despite the intention for foreign visitors. Marketing departments have a hard time breaking out of their bubble and appealing to what people would like to see or do.

”visit Yamaguchi! We have a temple and a field that is historically important!”

”what about Tsunoshima, you know the beautiful beach and island area that gives the Caribbean a run for its money?”

”eh why would foreigners want to go to the beach here”

literal conversation at work…

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you really want to increase tourism in regional areas, how about rebuilding all the castles starting with Osaka castle to its original glory.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@browny1 Once upon a time, my mate and I went out camping at the bank of Niyodo River because we had found nowhere else to stay in the middle of the night. When we woke up, we were literally surrounded by water but luckily our tent was on higher rocky area. Unsafe, yes, but it was part of the thrill of being young!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@browny1 I was cycling up there two weeks ago!Was similarly shocked by the factory plopped by the side of the supposedly last unspoiled river of Japan.

Luckily got out of there,and headed up to Yusuhara and the Shikoku Karst,wonderful.Then Kochi City,and such friendly locals and great food.

There's so much to discover,and that's the joy.

Our island is being relentlessly promoted by its new UNESCO designation,and too many group tourists are disturbing the whole point of the attraction of secluded nature.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Boffington The stars from my location are amazing and there are over 700 species of birds spread throughout the archipelago. I think maybe you haven't been out of the city much.

The concrete everywhere is a huge problem though. The rivers are clean but because of the bloody concrete there are no fish in them.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Admittedly, the countryside is easier on the eyes than Japanese cities, but that's not saying much, considering they're an atrocious jumble of brutalist eyesores, kitsch codswallop or pitiful pastiches.

Every time I go back to England, I am astonished at how well we've protected our architectural treasures, despite the depredations of the Luftwaffe and post-war architects.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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