Japan Travel

* * * * * * * * TERRIE’S (TOURISM) TAKE – BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A bi-weekly focused look at the tourism sector in Japan, by Terrie
Lloyd, a long-term technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan.

Tourism Sector Edition Sunday, Oct 04, 2015, Issue No. 822

SUBSCRIBE to, UNSUBSCRIBE from Terrie’s Take at:

http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take, or,

+++ Using Movies as a Tourist Magnet

In this age of the Internet, there is still nothing more powerful in our
grab bag of popular culture and entertainment media than movies (OK,
including TV soaps and specials). Spotify, LINE, and Youtube are all
great, but it’s movies with inspired plots and professional production
levels that can actually move the hearts of audiences and impress upon
them a message or cause that they previously had no exposure to.

Here in Japan there are roughly 550 movies (2012 numbers) produced and
released every year — which is an impressive number, and exceeds the
almost 430 western movies released annually. Unfortunately, most of
those Japanese movies are targeted at local consumers, and have
hard-to-translate concepts and styles that makes them difficult to
export, even with dubbing/voiceovers. But there are exceptions, and one
studio that has transcended local consumer thinking and has gone global
is animation-focused Studio Ghibli.

I recently saw the movie “When Marnie Was There” (“Omoide no Marnie”)
with my kids. It’s a shame that this is probably the studio’s last
movie, as “Marnie” is a sophisticated piece of animation that is right
up there in terms of originality with My Neighbor Toto, Princess
Mononoke, and Spirited Away. The movie was set in Hokkaido, in a
relatively real location near Kushiro. After watching it the entire
family felt a powerful urge to go out and book a trip to that very
place, to see if there really is a derelict mansion on the other side of
the marshes across from Kushiro (or Akkeshi-ko, which is a more likely

This desire to relive or explore the location for a deeply moving film
is of course a well-known marketing mechanism used by small towns and
cities all over the world. Some examples of previously unknown locations
becoming must-see ones for foreign tourists include the slums of Dharavi
(Mumbai), Asia’s largest slum, which received exposure through Slumdog
Millionaire; New Zealand’s North Island farming town of Matamata which
was the location for Hobbiton and was featured in a decade’s worth of
Lord of the Rings movies and sequels; and Sweden’s bohemian district of
Södermalm, which was ground zero for Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the
Dragon Tattoo and other Millennium books.

[Continued below…]

———- New Service: Foreign Tourist Surveys ———–

If your company is producing, selling, or supporting fashion, food, or
high-end consumer goods, then probably you are selling a high percentage
of your products to visiting foreign tourists. Wouldn’t you like to know
what these buyers actually think about your brand and those of your
competitors? Japan Travel KK is proud to announce the successful
trialing and now launch of its new Inbound Physical Survey service. Our
experienced survey personnel, in conjunction with leading retail
partners (who provide us with legal polling venues) can interview 100’s
of tourists in surveys of up to 20 questions. This is NOT an unqualified
online survey service of “maybe” tourists, but rather a physical, proven
set of interviews with real tourists in real retail environments.

For inquiries, email us at: sales@japantravel.com

What’s surprising, though is that even though armed with the mystique
created by the Marnie movie, Kushiro doesn’t seem to have taken much
advantage of it. I could find nothing on the web to indicate any kind of
tourism activity other than one little page on their Japanese site:
http://bit.ly/1PXW6QB. Maybe I missed it, or maybe they just don’t have
any commercial sense. In any case, there is certainly nothing in English
to inspire hoards of foreign fans to descend on the place and spend a
few tourist dollars.

But while the elders of Kushiro seem clueless, other locations around
Japan are more aware of the power of a well-told story, and are either
providing access to locations for movie makers as a way to tap future
audiences, or they are actually paying the producers to have movies made
that will incorporate them. We think this is a powerful idea, and one
that destinations with not many distinguishing features can use.

One such destination which is a nice but nondescript steel town is
Kitakyushu. I know this city better than most because my wife comes from
the area, and we get back there regularly to visit family. It will be
interesting to see how a recent initiative will play out, whereby the
City of Kitakyushu has decided to sponsor a Thai TV science fiction
drama called “Devil Lover”. The drama is set in Thailand’s provincial
port of Rayong, and apparently Kitakyushu’s industrial skyline (lots of
smoke stacks, believe me) is reminiscent of Rayong’s. Kitakyushu plunged
into the project after learning that Thai tourists to Fukuoka had
increased a surprising 90% after seeing a love-tragedy drama called “Kol
Kimono” (“Kimono’s Trap”) which was filmed in Saga and Kitakyushu. [Ed:
In case you’re wondering, the Thai tourists were arriving in Fukuoka
instead of Kitakyushu after Kol Kimono, it’s because the city is served
by Thai Airways and Kitakyushu is not.]

Another good example of a powerful movie pulling in foreign travelers is
“Kano”, which covers the true story of a baseball team from Taiwan
playing in the Summer Koshien high school baseball tournament back in
the 1930’s when Taiwan was still under Japanese rule. Exceeding all
expectations, the rookies from the Chiayi School of Agriculture in
Taiwan actually managed to make it all the way to the finals. The movie
was a huge hit, winning the Taipei Film Festival Audience Choice Award
in 2014. After it was released the number of Taiwanese tourists visiting
the Hanshin Koshien Stadium Museum in Hyogo-ken rose from just a few
people a year to more than 3,000 over 9 months last year.

Not every location works as a magnet for dedicated fans, though. For
example, in researching this article, we wanted to know where the farm
shoot-out scene for Ridley Scott’s 1989 cult classic “Black Rain” was.
You’ll remember that the movie, which gets 2 and a half stars on Rotten
Tomatoes, featured Michael Douglas as an American detective sent to
Japan to extradite a Yakuza back to the USA. The movie was shot mostly
in Osaka over Scott’s original preference for Tokyo after Osaka got him
his filming permits. The problem is that a lot of the places that
existed in 1989 have already disappeared as Osaka has rebuilt itself —
a common problem in any Japanese major city. For example, Shinsaibashi
is gone (moved) and so is Kirin Plaza, and the 43-year old Hankyu Umeda
station Terminal Building is likely to be replaced soon as well.

As to where the farm shoot-out was held, in fact, not in Japan at all.
Apparently the Japanese immigration authorities kicked the film crew out
of the country because their visas were expiring, and they saw little
need to renew them. So the scene was instead shot in Napa valley. Ridley
Scott was furious and vowed never to make another movie in Japan.

…The information janitors/

—————— ICA Event – October 15th —————

Speaker: Jonathan Hope – Partner, Fusion Systems Japan
Title: ” Secure Corporate Data and Messaging on the Cloud: What are the
Commercial Risks?”

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/

Date: Wednesday, October 15th, 2015
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included with charges and pay as
you go cash bar.
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members) Open to all. No sign
ups at the door!!!!!!!
RSVP: By 1pm on Monday October 12th, 2015. Venue is The Foreign
Correspondents’ Club of Japan


SUBSCRIBERS: 6,876 members as of October 4, 2015
(We purge our list regularly.)
Terrie mailing list