Thursday, October 13, 2011

Japan's tourism

In the last day I have heard two different mentions of an upcoming scheme by the Japanese tourist board to give away 10,000 free flights to Japan to encourage tourism (it is not finalized, but you can bet I will be applying!)

Since the spring, tourism has been way down in Japan, and for good reason -- people are concerned about radiation leaks, and as a result are taking measures such as buying persona Geiger counters and inquiring as to the provenance of all their food to ensure none of it is from the Fukushima region (where the damaged nuclear station is located). But as sensible as precautions may be, it breaks my heart to think that people are avoiding Japan, a really amazing place with so much to offer the traveler. (PS --  I have previously mentioned Japan here and here.)

It is also, incidentally, the only place I have ever been where there was a significant language barrier.  I found it fascinating to feel so adrift when I am usually confident about using English (with as much of the local language as I can learn) when I travel.  I have to say, it has made me think again about all the jokes made about Japanese tourists on huge buses taking photos -- they must feel equally linguistically isolated when they travel, and I really sympathize with wanting to travel in a group.

I was only able to visit Tokyo when I was there last year, but was lucky enough to catch hanami time, which is the fleeting period where cherry blossom is blooming all over the city. Cherry blossom is loved because it is fleeting, and symbolizes change. Japan is changing, certainly, but I want to encourage travelers not to cross it off their list -- I am dreaming of going back.

Prayers outside a major Shinto temple near Harajuku.


Even manhole covers are beautiful in Tokyo.
One of the most amazing and incomprehensible ad campaigns I have ever seen.

Though it was raining and cold, unbelieveable crowds turned out to view the hanami.

1 comment :

  1. Wow! I will definitely keep this on my radar. I would love to go to Japan. The people I have met from Japan are so friendly and kind.


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