Tourism in Japan

Simon Richmond, author of The Rough Guide to Tokyo, The Rough Guide to Japan (Penguin UK), veteran tourist, and onetime Tokyo resident, has a pretty interesting op-ed in Japan Today.

I think that the Japanese government and the Japanese people as a whole are not really fully invested in the idea of having more tourists in Japan. Japan’s the second strongest economy in the world. Being the 33rd most popular tourist destination means that Japan’s economy is not reliant on tourism. That’s both good and bad.

I think Yokoso! Japan is a tatemae issue.

…as a one-time resident and frequent traveler in Japan over the last 14 years, I’m not holding my breath on lasting benefits from the [Yokoso! Japan] campaign. I know that Japan’s international tourism problem cannot be fully solved by extra foreign-language signs or snazzy electronic gizmos. Larger issues need to be tackled, among them communication and coordination of policy between various government and private bodies.

In addition to thinking of ways to tempt foreign visitors here, the Japanese government should be encouraging more of its own citizens to travel overseas, improve their language skills, and get used to interacting with foreigners. Only then will Japan be able to extend a sincere and meaningful Yokoso to overseas visitors.

The trouble with ‘Yokoso’ []

5 comments on “Tourism in Japan
  1. gman says:

    > the Japanese government should be encouraging more of its own citizens to travel overseas
    Is he kidding? Maybe it just comes from being a foreigner therefore meeting more foreigner friendly people but it seems to me the Japanese visit more countries than just about any other group I know. Certainly more than Americans, Canadians, Chinese, Koreans, Mexicans etc. (I’m discounting Europe since when other 5-6 countries are only an 1-3 hours a away from each other it’s kind of too easy…)

  2. Christian Gates says:

    I’ve never been to Japan, but it’s culture strikes me as not particularly tourist-friendly. It’s still a pretty rigid, formalistic, dense society, and those factors make it less accessable to auslanders than some others.
    Further, there’s an element of xenophobia that’s inherent in Japanese culture, whether still overt or not, that make that inaccessability border on the hostile.
    I’m not criticizing, by the way. I don’t see anything inherently wrong with most of that (unless it devolves into miltant Emperor worship, and history has shown that that circumstance has some unpleasant side effects), but it does mean that Japan will never be a great location for a lot of types of vacation outside of more adventurous visitors.
    I say all that as an American / Westerner.
    The story with other Asians might be substantially more complex.

  3. Christian Gates says:

    Speaking of – is Yasukuni still around?

  4. Alan says:

    I think Japanese do tend to travel alot, HOWEVER, they tend to do it in Japanese ways. So tours to the alps are with Japanese tour groups, and I doubt cultural exchange is the focus.
    I think it might be a matter of seeing and doing things rather than taking in a culture.
    Just my speculation.

  5. 16 millions Japanese people are traveling out side of Japan each year. 5 millions foreign tourists are coming to Japan. The actual problem of the Japanese government is not how to keep people spending money in Japan. Actually there are 3 times more people who are going out than in which means that 16 million Japanese people are spending their money out side of Japan. And to few foreign currency is coming (5 millions tourists). The Japanese GVT do not care at all of making life easier for tourist, they only care of money, Youkoso Japan has been develop in order to reach 7 millions foreign tourist to come in Japan (2010 target) in order to spend money here. But also they made their selection. Actually their focus on Chinese and Asian countries, and really don’t care about US and EUR. Why? Because US and EUR are too much picky they spend 5 times less that a Chinese guy. Yes Chinese when they comes to Japan spend just for goods around 1 to 3 millions Yen, when a US citizen will spend 50 000 to 200 000 Yen.
    So forget about the culture stuff, forget about the nice park or Fujisan, here we are talking about money and that all. And this, JAN DODD miss completely the point… once again some one who just look at a problem whit both eyes closed.