I’ve been visiting these prefectural “antenna” shops in central Tokyo. Most prefectures have these shops to sell/promote their local products (mainly food) and provide tourist info. If you’re in Tokyo, you can literally get a taste of various prefectures and pick up tourist brochures (in English too). The other day, I visited Fukushima’s shop (photo) at Tokyo Station’s Yaesu side.
They had food and souvenirs from Fukushima as well as a rack of tourist brochures and Fukushima newspapers. The ladies working there were very nice, sweet, and helpful. I sat down with one of them to ask where tourists can and cannot go in Fukushima. She graciously showed me on a tourist map the off-limits area which basically centers on the nuclear power plants. So the rest of Fukushima is safe to visit. Also got advice on the best sakura spots in Fukushima. It’s always good to visit an antenna shop before traveling to that prefecture.
People refer to 3/11 as a triple disaster. But it really was a quadruple disaster. The fourth disaster was the sensationalist and negative press coverage by the overseas media. The mainstream media did severe damage to Japan’s economy by frightening away foreign residents/students and tourists alike. As if the entire country of Japan were in peril when in fact, only the Tohoku area was affected. Even faraway and safe Kyoto suffered a major decline in tourists. The economic impact was severe on local businesses. The Japanese government, tourist agency, and local tourist bureaus also did little or were helpless in getting official word out that the majority of Japan was still safe. It was disgusting to see the sensationalist media taking over the country.
And now for the 1st anniversary, I’m afraid of another mass media aftershock of more negative images of only the destruction, debris, dirt (contaminated), darkness, decline, and death. The normal side and recovering bright spots in Tohoku will be largely ignored. Imagine a film crew coming to your city to film your local garbage dump and presenting it to the world as the only thing in your city. That’s what they did a year ago in Japan.
Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku has recently scored a brilliant PR coup with its “Udon-ken” (うどん県) tourism PR slogan/campaign. Kagawa is seeing a sharp increase in tourists as a result. It goes to show what an original idea and some imagination can do.
Unfortunately, most local tourist bureaus in Japan lack fresh ideas and imagination and remain in a humdrum, mediocre rut. Kagawa got multiple sectors (even the post office) and Kagawa-bred celebrities involved in the campaign. A fine example of great PR teamwork. Too bad “Udon-ken,” which means Udon Noodle Prefecture in reference to Kagawa’s most famous product, works only in Japanese. Hope they figure something out for foreign tourists.
Konosu Bikkuri Hina Matsuri doll festival at Konosu City Hall, Saitama.
Happy Grrlz Day! Saw Hinamatsuri at Konosu City Hall in Saitama Prefecture for the first time. The lobby had a huge pyramid (7 meters high) of 1,800 hina dolls flanked by more doll displays on both sides. And the front porch had 2,000 dolls (displayed only on weekends). Awesome.
On weekends when it’s not raining, they also display 2,000 hina dolls on the front porch.
The old and new towers running together at Tokyo Marathon today among 36,000 runners. The red Tokyo Tower was built in 1958 and it’s now too short for broadcast antennas. The new, mega-tower Tokyo Sky Tree will be almost twice as high at 634 meters. Even before it opens in May, hordes of tourists have been visiting the tower’s foot and gawking.