• 日本の里山体験を楽しむ

    [From August Issue 2014]

    Deep in the Japanese countryside, it’s possible to see a wild landscape known as “satoyama.” On the border between areas populated by humans and the mountains, it’s an environment in which humans coexist alongside nature. After World War II, people’s lifestyles rapidly changed and most of these areas were lost. However, you can still find such landscape in the Hida district of Gifu Prefecture (in Takayama City, Hida City, Gero City and the village of Shirakawa).
    Chura-boshi Company offers guided tours called the “SATOYAMA EXPERIENCE” that highlight the charm of Hida to people from around the world. There have been many successful tours that offer participants the chance to experience the culture and history of this area. All of these tours can be conducted in English.
    The name of the area, Hida Takayama, brings to mind images of old-Japanese style houses. Although they rarely see such traditional Japanese-style houses any more, in Hida, visitors can not only see them, but also stay in them. On such occasions, visitors are asked to bring their own futon, alternatively a shop renting futons can be recommended.
    In Hida Furukawa it’s still possible to find shops that have been in business since the old days: rice stores with a rice mill, mochi (rice cake) shops, and tofu shops. “SATOYAMA DINING” is a tour that focuses on food; it allows you to get a feel for the relation between the local area and its food. It starts in the morning, bringing you to a local restaurant just when you begin to get hungry. Although the tours are in English only, you can study the history of sake in with “DISCOVER THE SAKE” tour. In addition, participants are taught how to wrap sake bottles with furoshiki (a square cloth) and how to drink sake in the traditional manner.
    “HIDA FURUKAWA TOWN WALK” is a walking tour led by a local guide that allows visitors to get to know the town and the surrounding scenery from the point of view of the locals. SHIBA Ryotaro, a well-known novelist in Japan, wrote about Furukawa in his work, “Kaido-o-yuku:” “Because they are unspoiled by tourism, it’s possible to get a sense of the natural behavior, expressions and even the character of the people here.” In this town it’s possible to study a culture and lifestyle that has been handed down from generation to generation.
    The most popular tour is “HIDA SATOYAMA CYCLING.” By making this easy trip along the roads between rice fields, you can enjoy the beauty of farming villages in each season. Also, experienced guides give thorough explanations of the culture and history of “satoyama.”
    For the “KOMINKA OVERNIGHT TOUR,” held two or three times a year, participants cycle around “satoyama” and stay in old houses. All food provided comes from the natural environment of the area. You can enjoy seasonal ingredients such as, freshwater fish, edible wild plants, and soba (noodles). There are also short two-and-a-half-hour tours and hiking tours through a primeval Japanese beech forest (starting point reached by bicycle). Rental bicycles are available.
    SATOYAMA EXPERIENCE[2014年8月号掲載記事]

    株式会社美ら地球が企画する「SATOYAMA EXPERIENCE」は世界中から訪れる人達に飛騨の魅力を案内しています。たくさんのツアーがあり、この地に受け継がれてきた文化や歴史を体験できます。ツアーはすべて英語での対応が可能です。
    飛騨古川には精米屋、もち屋、豆腐屋など昔ながらの店が今も残っています。「里山ダイニング」は食にフォーカスした、地域と食の関わりが感じられるツアーです。午前中から始まるので、ちょうどおなかが空いてきた頃に地元の食事処に到着します。英語だけのツアーですが、「DISCOVER THE SAKE」はお酒の歴史を知ることができます。また、ふろしきを使った酒瓶の包み方、伝統的な酒の飲み方が学べます。

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  • 川から見る、少し違った東京

    [From August Issue 2014]

    Practiced in Japan from the Heian era (8-12th century), boating is sailing on a river or a pond for pleasure. In addition to river cruises, all kinds of boating can be enjoyed all over Japan. In Tokyo, you can rent the “Riverboat Mizuha” for your private use.
    Tokyo is on the Bay of Tokyo where, during the Edo era (17-19th centuries), large cargo was always transported by ships. Tokyo still has many rivers and canals that were used in those days. “You can forget your everyday routine just by pushing off from the shore and being rocked by the water. You can experience this in the middle of a metropolis,” says SATO Miho, managing director of Floating Life Co., Ltd., the company that runs Mizuha.
    Though the boat has a small capacity of just ten, these ten people are accommodated on comfortable seats with a large table. The boat also has a toilet and electronic devices. Since the boat was built to sit low in the water, it can pass under low bridges even when the tide is high. Slender lighting fixtures leave enough headroom inside the boat. Since the tablecloths and lighting fixtures are traditional Japanese artisanal objects, the whole interior of the boat resembles a showcase in which everything can be seen and touched.
    Typical rental periods are for 60-120 minutes leaving you free to choose your route and to have a good time with your family or close friends. If you indicate your preference for “a route with beautiful nighttime views” or “a route that gives a sense of Tokyo’s history,” suggestions will be made depending on the hour and season.
    Customers vary: some hire the boat for a parents’ anniversary, sometimes all three generations of a family enjoy the cruise, and some are small parties on a company outing. A family with small children doesn’t have to worry about bothering other passengers. People have commented that it was good to laugh out loud and enjoy talking knowing the noise they made on the water wouldn’t disturb anyone.
    On other trips, you ride with strangers. “Tokyo Landmark Boating” and “Dusk/Early Evening Boating” (about 60 minutes) are trips that take you through Nihonbashi River and Kamejima River – unchanged since the Edo era – along the Sumida River visiting Rainbow Bridge and the Tokyo Tower area. You can see the contrast between canals that still retain vestiges of their old banks, narrow waterways, and the Sumida River – also called the “big river.” In addition to Tokyo Skytree, you’ll also enjoy the many unique bridges that span the Sumida River. In the evening, the reflections of bridge lights on the river’s surface are particularly romantic.
    Sato says, “I’m delighted if it stirs up thoughts such as: ‘I wonder why the scenery looks so different from the river?’ or ‘Was Tokyo such a cool town?’” It’s possible to embark from three locations: Nihonbashi (Chuo Ward), Kachidoki (Chuo Ward), and Azuma-bashi (Sumida Ward). On such sightseeing boats, it’s often forbidden to bring along your own drinks and food on board, but on Mizuha it’s permitted without incurring extra charges. If you request catering, it’ll be provided. English tours are available.
    Funaasobi Mizuha[2014年8月号掲載記事]

    「いつも見ている風景を川の上から見るとどうして新鮮に感じるんだろう? 東京ってこんなにかっこいい街だった?と思っていただけるとうれしいです」と佐藤さんは話します。日本橋(中央区)、勝どき(中央区)、吾妻橋(墨田区)の3ヵ所から乗船できます。このような観光船は飲食物の持ち込みが禁止されているところが多いのですが、みづはは持ち込み可能ですし持込料もとりません。頼めばケータリングしてくれます。英語でのガイドが可能です。

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  • ネットが結ぶ家庭の食文化交流

    [From August Issue 2014]

    Launched in May 2013, “KitchHike” is an Internet service that brings strangers together round the dining table. Foreigners visiting Japan can sample home-cooked Japanese dishes, and non-Japanese living in Japan can serve up their native dishes to Japanese. While the service is available in different countries across the world, the majority of users are in Japan at present.
    “Cooks” display their menus, profiles and prices on the KitchHike site. Deals are made when “hikers” who want to sample one of these menus make a reservation. Registration is free. Prices are currently only in US dollars, but there are plans to deal in other currencies, too. Kitchhike takes a portion of the price charged in service fees.
    Currently, most cooks are Japanese women in their 20s and 30s. What’s unique about KitchHike in comparison with restaurants is that cooks prepare their dishes at home and sit down to eat with guests to enjoy intercultural exchanges with strangers at the dining table. Because of the registration system, so far there hasn’t been any trouble.
    This service was launched by ASARI Yutaka and YAMAMOTO Masaya, former employees of a large advertising agency. “Seeing how Facebook was gaining more and more users in Japan, I started up a web-based business to give people the opportunity to meet up with each other,” says Asari. The two hit upon the idea when discussing their experiences of international travel – a hobby they both share.
    “When I went to Myanmar, I mentioned to a taxi driver at a marketplace that “I’d like to eat a good meal.” He was puzzled at first, but ended up taking me to his own place to have a meal with his family,” recalls Asari. After several such experiences, he began to think, “I’d like to have homes outside Japan.”
    “I don’t mean having a house outside Japan,” says Asari. He believes in the value of meeting locals while traveling and tasting typical home-made dishes with them and their families. “So KitchHike doesn’t deal in room rental for travellers or in homestays. In principle, you simply eat a home-cooked meal together with your host in their home,” he explains.
    Asari is proud to run a business that offers its service to anyone in the world regardless of nationality and language. “It’s rewarding to feel that we’re creating a new culture,” he says. “We’ll be delighted if, say, a mother who cooks for her family is better off and gains self-confidence by turning an economic profit as a KitchHike cook.”
    “Recently, a cook was registered in the Republic of Ghana, West Africa. She’s from a deprived background and had no access to the Internet, but she managed to register with the help of a Japanese NPO,” Asari smiles. “Our service isn’t very well known yet, so we intend to organize events and collaborate with other companies,” he says, describing his dreams of expansion.
    Kitchhike Inc.[2014年8月号掲載記事]


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  • 社名に込められた「永遠」の気持ち

    [From August Issue 2014]

    AEON Co., Ltd., known for its AEON logo, is one of Japan’s largest “incorporated retail groups.” Aeon means “eternal” in Latin. As of the end of February 2014, the total number of the group’s employees was about 400,000. With an operating income of 6,395.1 billion yen a year, AEON has been the country’s largest retail group for three consecutive years. Its private brand “Top Valu” carries more than 6,000 products and has sales totalling 741 billion yen a year.
    The company’s core business is its hypermarket division which has some 610 stores both in and outside the country. Based in shopping centers, these stores sell basic necessities, including food and clothing. In addition to these, AEON also runs quite a few supermarkets and discount stores across the country. What’s drawing attention these days are its gigantic suburban shopping centers; there are 155 of these “AEON Malls” in and outside the country.
    An AEON Mall has so many specialty shops that it resembles a small town. Young ladies with an eye for quality, who compare products from different specialist stores, are called “AEON girls.” Manufacturers of clothing and other sundries value the opinions of AEON girls since they have such a good sense of fashion.
    Today’s AEON has the largest sales revenue in Japan, but its predecessor, Jusco, was created from a merger in 1969 of three mid-size provincial companies that were in the same business. Jusco itself grew gradually, collaborating and merging with all kinds of companies. It opened new stores not only in Japan, but eventually overseas as well. In 2001, the company name was changed to its current one: AEON Co., Ltd.
    After becoming AEON group, the group focused its efforts on a tree planting campaign. Since 1991, it’s been implementing the “AEON – Creation of Hometown Forests” campaign in which local consumers plant trees around new malls. This activity reflects the company’s hope that newly created malls will be handy for locals as a place to gather and share a love of nature.
    OKADA Takuya, the founder, appeals to those who’ve planted trees: “Please come back to the store to see how much the trees you planted have grown. Use that opportunity to do some shopping. And love this store forever.” The idea of forever informs their wish for eternity. The number of trees planted in and outside the country has exceeded ten million.
    Group CEO OKADA Motoya says, “In whatever country or region we expand our business to, we always operate under the principle that the customer comes first. We cherish this philosophy and strive to keep innovating.” They aim to become a group that not only sells goods, but also supports people’s lives in general. That sentiment is firmly built into the AEON name.
    AEON Co., Ltd.
    Text: ITO Koichi








    イオングループになってから力を入れるようになったのは植樹活動です。1991年からは地域の消費者が新店舗の周りに木を植える「イオン ふるさとの森づくり」を進めています。この活動は、新しくできる店舗が地域の人たちが集まる場となること、緑を愛する心が広がることなど、地域の人々に役立つ願いを込めたものです。





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  • クリエイターとお客との近さが魅力

    [From July Issue 2014]

    Design Festa
    Design Festa is an art event at which artists get to display or perform their work. Since 1994, the event has been held biannually at Tokyo Big Sight in Koto Ward, Tokyo. No limits are set on age or nationality, and exhibitors include professional and amateur artists. Art of any genre is accepted. There are no auditions or evaluations, so as long as it’s original work, it can be displayed or performed here.
    At Design Festa, a variety of art works and performances are shown. Some people paint pictures on eight-meter-wide canvases, while others deliver collective singing and dancing performances on stage. In a darkened area of the venue works utilizing light and video images are shown. In the outdoor area participants can cook and sell food. There is also a handicrafts section for visitors to enjoy.
    In many of the booths, the items on display are also on sale. At most of the booths the creator is there in person to explain their work to customers. “Design Festa is a place which both exhibitors and visitors can enjoy together. It’s possible to attract many more customers than you would be able to do on your own and through communicating with visitors, new opportunities and possibilities arise,” says ITO Azusa, head of PR for Design Festa, Ltd.
    “We do not divide the space up by genre. The mixture of various art works makes for a chaotic atmosphere, which creates an exceptional space,” says Ito. “Exhibitors are the stars of the event, so we take care to ensure that they feel free to exhibit as they please.”
    “The great thing about Design Festa is that it attracts customers searching for items that don’t appeal to the general public or are extremely unique,” says ASAI Hideo, who has exhibited his work at the event 13 times in a row. Asai is the CEO of Asai Seisakusho, Ltd., a company that makes screws. At Design Festa, they sell accessories made using handmade screws.
    To commemorate the 20th Anniversary of Design Festa, it has been decided that Designfesta, Ltd., will host a new art event – the “All Student Art Festival – Gakuten” – on August 9 and 10. “Gakuten” is a Design Festa for students. Those wanting to participate in the event have to be studying in school, in further education, or in a class. There are no restrictions on age or nationality. Original work of any genre is accepted.
    “I expect that the exhibitors at Gakuten will be younger than those at Design Festa, so we are anticipating a more festive atmosphere,” says MINEO Asahi. Asahi is currently attending a product design course at Nihon Kogakuin Hachioji Campus. Mineo and her classmate TAKENAKA Mizuho are making accessories that combine traditional Japanese patterns with the cute colors and designs seen on items worn around the Harajuku area. “We’re hoping that young people will become familiar with the charm of traditional Japanese patterns.
    “We would like to make a music video and do an installation at Gakuten,” says IZUKI Keito of Amphithéâtre, a student handicraft club from Yokohama National University. “We would like to make a video production featuring these accessories to show while selling our products,” she says.
    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2014年7月号掲載記事]


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  • 伝統的な着物をドレスに生かす

    [From July Issue 2014]

    Yorozu International
    At Yorozu International in Roppongi, Tokyo, dresses made from kimono cloth and bags put together out of obi material and leather are laid out in rows. When the company was established in Karuizawa in 2010, a store was established in Daikanyama. Because the company wanted people from overseas to become familiar with the charms of kimono, one year ago the shop was moved to Roppongi, an area easily accessible to foreigners.
    MURAKAMI Yuko, the representative director, used to work in the apparel industry. Western clothes were at the center of her life. She says that approximately ten years ago, her husband encouraged her to enroll in a school where she could comprehensively study kimono. In the beginning, she didn’t even know how to fold a kimono. She started out studying how to wear kimono, but afterwards her studies went deeper and she learned about such things as dyeing techniques.
    The more she learned about kimono, the stronger her feeling that “these traditional techniques must be retained.” However, younger people view kimono as being expensive; not something that can be purchased casually. When her husband saw Murakami learning about kimono, he suggested that she establish a business. In order to give more people the chance to come into contact with kimono, she sold products made from repurposed kimono cloth.
    Murakami says that the best thing is when someone enjoys wearing a kimono. However, “When I thought about what should be retained, I thought it should be the colors and patterns of kimono which cannot be found in any part of the world except for Japan.” That’s why she’s not particular about the kimono retaining its form. Rather, she utilizes its patterns to reflect Japan’s four seasons and allows the delicate colors of its natural dyes to come alive in the form of dresses or bags.
    There are other shops that repurpose kimono into clothes, but Murakami has noticed that most of them use Japanese dressmaking techniques for the finish. Because Japanese dressmaking uses boxy fabric, it cannot be made to fit the body when repurposed into western clothes. Kimono fabric is 30 centimeters wide – narrower than western fabric – so Yorozu International is particular about cutting it with three-dimensional shapes in mind. They finely match the patterns, to give them new value as an attractive product.
    In the case of tailor-made dresses, which are basically made-to-order, prices start from 160,000 yen – which is not cheap. However, Murakami says with confidence: “Even though kimono patterns are old, they’re never out of fashion. Once you have it made, it can be something they can be proud of to the next generation.”
    One of the reasons why people have lost touch with kimono is because there are no opportunities to wear them. So Murakami holds a kimono dressing salon four to five times a month. After learning how to dress in a kimono, participants can enjoy a meal in a restaurant around Roppongi while wearing a kimono. Because it’s possible to communicate in English, word has got out and the numbers of foreign visitors have gradually increased.
    The “万” (yorozu) character used by “Yorozu International,” signifies “a great amount.” With this character, Murakami expresses her appreciation of nature and the eight million (countless) forces that created the kimono. Once one touches the smooth texture of the silk kimono cloth, one can feel the fascination of kimono created by these many powers.
    Yorozu International
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年7月号掲載記事]


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  • 1年間で扱う荷物を積み上げると月まで届く

    [From July Issue 2014]

    Kuroneko Yamato no TA-Q-BIN
    With just four trucks, Yamato Transport Co., Ltd, was founded in 1919 in Ginza, Tokyo as a company specializing in making deliveries by automobile. It’s well known for its tagline “Kuroneko Yamato no TA-Q-BIN (Black Cat Yamato Courier Service). The logo of a black cat with a kitten in its mouth can be seen all over Japan. The word “TA-Q-BIN (takkyuubin)” (express home delivery) is widely known, but, as it’s a registered trademark, can be only used by Yamato Transport.
    In 1976, Yamato Transport founded a private company; Japan’s first home delivery service to target private individuals. That service was named TA-Q-BIN. Until the first half of the 1970s, Japan’s transport companies dealt mostly with business freight. It took as many as four to five days to deliver private parcels. That’s why the then President OGURA Masao put together a service for “collection by phone call” and “next day delivery.”
    Before he started the courier service, Ogura worried about how many branches he should open. In the end he used the number of police stations across the nation – then 1,200 – as a guideline. He thought, “The role of the police is to ensure public order in the area. With the same number of branches, Yamato should available to every resident in the area.” Today they have around 4,000 branches.
    The idea of a courier service quickly caught on and many people signed up to use it. Today Yamato Transport handles around 1.6 billion parcels a year. If the same number of standard-sized tangerine boxes (30 centimeters tall) were placed on top of one another, the stack would be high enough to reach the moon.
    Once the ease and convenience of their courier service became well known, many within the company began to suggest that they offer other services besides to door to door delivery. That’s how the “ski courier service” got underway in 1983. It was originally the idea of an employee in Nagano Prefecture, who wanted to do something to boost the number of parcels after the severe drop in custom following the end of the apple season.
    One winter’s day, he was looking at a national highway and noticed a bus carrying a lot of skies on board. This sight got the employee thinking, “If we transport them, our customers will be freed up to enjoy their skiing trip. This will supply us with a new cargo to replace the apples.” In this way, the first business to couple a courier service with the leisure industry was launched and quickly caught on nationwide.
    Since then, Yamato Transport has been at the forefront of developing new user-friendly services; these have sprung up one after the other, for example, “golf TA-Q-BIN,” “cool TA-Q-BIN” and “airport TA-Q-BIN.” They have also strived to contribute to society, for example, after the Great East Japan Earthquake a “Relief Supply Transport Cooperation Team” was set up in the hardest hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.
    Yamato Transport Co., Ltd.
    Text: ITO Koichi[2014年7月号掲載記事]


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  • ケータリングでパーティーやイベントを演出

    [From June Issue 2014]

    Recently, more and more people in Japan are holding parties at home. After hosting several parties, many people want to create an atmosphere that is a little different than normal. Because of this, caterers have been attracting attention. Besides house parties, they also cater corporate events.
    Futaba Fruits, in Nakano Ward, Tokyo, is a catering service that deals with fruits. The company originally sold fruit retail, but when regular customers requested that they provide fruits for events and parties, this prompted them to launch their service. Seventy percent of their customer base is female.
    At the turn of the seasons, there are more exhibitions by clothing manufacturers. In the summer, they often set up shop at outdoor festivals, and at the end of the year, the number of company parties they cater to increases for the bounenkai (forget the hardships of the year) party season. A colorful reminder of the changing seasons, fruit is reputed to create pleasing decorative effects at parties.
    IWATSUKI Masayasu, a spokesman for Futaba Fruits says: “We started out as a retailer, so we didn’t get the opportunity to witness our customers consuming our fruit. However, since we started our catering service, we’ve had increasing opportunities to see the smiles on our customer’s faces as they consume our fruit, telling us they find it delicious.”


    Tokyo Masala Boys’ curry

    TAKAGI Shintaro and HATSUMI Ken run a weekends-only, Tokyo-based curry catering service called Tokyo Masala Boys. The two used to cook as a hobby. One day, when they made an authentic Indian curry to eat with friends and family, the consensus was that it was really delicious. Takagi says that making curry requires an in-depth knowledge both of spices and Indian cooking.
    “I simply liked curry, so I wanted to make more of it. If I think that a curry is delicious, it makes me happy when other people find it delicious, too,” says Takagi, with a smile. They offer a set meal for 2,000 yen a head that consists of two kinds of curry, two side dishes and a portion of rice. Another reason for their popularity may be the reasonable price of their catering.
    They’ve catered at a variety of different venues: not only at typical house parties, but also at flea markets, discussion events aimed at regenerating local areas and at youth hostels for backpackers.
    ONO Daisuke, who has tried the catering service, says: “They devise a menu tailored to your budget and the dishes, made by professional cooks, create an exotic atmosphere. They take care of the tableware and so forth, so I wasn’t caught up in preparing for the event. Despite being the host of the house party, I was able to enjoy it, too.” Allowing both organizers and guests to have a good time, caterers may become even more popular in the future.

    Text: TSUCHIYA Emi[2014年6月号掲載記事]




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  • 効率よく観光できるバスツアー

    [From June Issue 2014]

    This year is the 65th anniversary of Hato Bus – one of Japan’s best-known sightseeing tour bus companies. It not only offers tours to Japanese customers, but also runs a variety of tours aimed at foreign tourists. The guides on foreign language tours are all state licensed interpreters.
    A popular option is “Dynamic Tokyo;” a tour of the metropolis with an English language guide. You can take a walk in a Japanese-style garden and try out a version of the tea ceremony that has been simplified for non-Japanese. Also, you can enjoy food cooked on a steel plate made with lava from Mt. Fuji. Everything is a highlight; from the Imperial Palace, to a cruise on the Sumida River to the final destination in Asakusa. The attraction of Hato Bus is in the efficient way it tours round the major sightseeing spots.
    HASHIZUME Mai has nine-year’s experience working as a tour guide and says, “Trying to book the itinerary yourself would be too much even for a Japanese person.” If you go by car, it won’t be easy to find a parking space. You can save time with Hato bus because we have our own private parking spaces. If there are foods you can’t eat, because of allergies, or for religious reasons, or if you are vegetarian, we can accommodate you if you let us know in advance.”
    Time spent travelling can be a good opportunity to learn about Japan’s culture and history. Mexican Hemia CISNEROS, who participated with a Japanese friend, says, “It’s a good thing that I can learn about today’s Japan through the bus window. Tokyo is a big city and I don’t understand the language. Visiting many places by bus is far more practical than planning and going on my own.” It’s the best way to show friends from abroad around, as the guides, who possess an in-depth knowledge of Japan, can comprehensively answer their questions.
    The one-day “World Heritage Mt. Fuji & Hakone tour” tour of Mt. Fuji – registered as a World Heritage Site in 2013 – and its surrounding area is also popular. Other than Mt. Fuji, you can also enjoy a pleasure cruise of Lake Ashi and a Western-style buffet lunch at Hakone Hotel Kowakien. In summer, you can climb up to the fifth station of Mt. Fuji to enjoy a magnificent view.
    Canadian Jacques BOUCHER, who went on a tour with his wife and son, says, “I came because I wanted to compare Mt. Fuji with a mountain we have in Montreal. It’s spectacular and graceful. The best view I’ve had in my life.” Guide INABA Atsuko says, “I make it a rule to talk about things we Japanese see in our everyday life, such as clean streets.”
    There is also a half-day tour of Tokyo and a tour to enjoy Tokyo Skytree tower. Shuttle services are also available to pick customers up from their hotels in Shinjuku, Shinagawa, and other parts of Tokyo Prefecture, to be taken to the departure terminal in Hamamatsu-cho. It’s possible to enjoy a safe, pleasant trip that will give you a sense of Japanese-style hospitality.
    Hato Bus Co., Ltd.
    Tel: 03-3435-6081
    Text: IZAWA Taiichi[2014年6月号掲載記事]


    Tel: 03-3435-6081

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  • 地域をより知ることができる民泊

    [From June Issue 2014]

    “Private lodging” – accommodation in a private residence – is getting an increasing amount of repeat custom. Many start out as regional exchange or development schemes to supplement the incomes of families whose livelihood is based on the farming, fishing or forestry industries. Recently they’ve been attracting attention because of their charm; they provide something that can’t be found on a typical sightseeing trip.
    “The charm of private lodging lies in becoming better acquainted with a region through interactions with locals,” says KAWAGUCHI Susumu, “Shiosai-juku” in Goto, Nagasaki Prefecture, has been operating for three years. Made with local produce, his regional dishes are extremely popular. Another big attraction of private lodging is the real-life experience you have with locals.
    Since Goto is next to the ocean, fishing and messing about on the beach are popular activities to experience. While visitors to Shiosai-juku are mostly in their 50s or 60s, more and more schools are giving children the opportunity to get a taste of staying at a private residence as part of an educational program. For children who have no opportunity to spend time by the seaside in the course of their everyday lives, finding out about the diversity of sea creatures can be the catalyst for raising awareness about the Earth’s environment. Visitors from overseas are still rare, but Kawaguchi expects that the number of Korean tourists will increase if the Catholic church in Goto is registered as a World Heritage Site.



    At “Yururiya” and “Tomaryanse” residential lodgings, in the village of Asuka, Nara Prefecture, roughly half of the visitors are Japanese and half foreign. Owner ERA Yoko says she wants them to come with the mindset of someone who’s about to do a homestay.
    She sometimes has a hard time communicating in English. “One winter’s day, I thought the bathroom was too cold, so I left the shower running in order to warm it up before some high school students from Singapore took their bath. They must have thought it was customary in Japan to leave the shower running. They left it running for a long time after their bath. It was very difficult for me to explain this later,” Era laughs.
    A popular activity is to get a hands-on experience of farming by doing things like harvesting rice and vegetables. If it’s not possible to do any farming because of the rain, visitors prepare food – sushi wrapped in rolls of seaweed, and so forth – with her. Foreign visitors are especially pleased to get the chance to experience making Japanese dishes. Era says she feels very sad when people who have stayed for more than two days leave, as they begin to feel like family. She often continues friendships with them by swapping email addresses.
    As well as being cheap, private lodgings provide foreigners with a chance to get a taste of the Japanese lifestyle, and for this reason they may become popular in the future. They also offer Japanese city dwellers an invaluable experience.

    Text: TSUCHIYA Emi[2014年6月号掲載記事]




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