Japan Heritage Tourism rediscovered
Away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, is a completely different side to Japan, filled with history and beauty. Obviously you cannot tell a tourist to Japan to ignore the big cities, however there is much more to Japan that all travellers should experience.
Last week, Japan hosted a Heritage Tourism Forum in Tokyo, with the aim of the forum to help bolster the rise of heritage tourism in the country. Dr David Atkinson, the CEO of Konishi Decorative Arts and Crafts Company was the keynote speaker at the event. Professor Robert Campbell of University of Tokyo was the moderator of the forum. Other panel members included Fashion journalist Yoshiko Ikoma, Naotsugu Kuroda a themed travel advisor to Club Tourism, the Executive Vice President of Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) Mamoru Kobori, and Dora Tauzin a French journalist.
Dr David Atkinson started the event with his address, in which he discussed what his company, Konishi is doing to help increase heritage tourism sites across Japan. In 2015 Japan named its first 118 fully heritage listed sites, Dr Atkinson believes the country should have over 100 sites by 2020. “By 2020 there will be over 100 heritage listed sites in Japan, what we must do is explain all the sites and history in greater detail,” Dr Atkinson said. He says Japan has all of these fantastic historic places and artefacts but they struggle to explain in English what the history is. “Tourists come to these historic sites and leave with no greater knowledge, tourists want to learn about the history and this can be difficult if the explanations are only in Japanese.” To coincide with greater tourism numbers visiting Japan in search of a history lesson, the heritage sites need to learn to explain their history with more prowess.
Also discussed at the forum was the incredible diversity of Japan. With 3,000 kilometres of coastline, you can truly do anything in Japan. The length of the country is the same as the distance between Sweden to Spain in Europe, and Dr Atkinson says you can do everything in Japan. “Japan’s coastline is the same distance as half of Europe, and you can do everything you can do in Europe, in Japan. You can do everything from skiing to scuba diving,” he said.
The Japan National Tourism Organisation has set a goal to have 40 million tourists coming to the country by 2020. Last year there was 24 million tourists, so the goal definitely looks achievable. With the Olympics coming to Japan in 2020, there will be a large influx of tourists looking for things to do. Heritage tourism in Japan is on the rise and businesses in the heritage tourism industry should be able to capitalise on the large tourism numbers in the near future.