6th Tokyo Treasure Islands Meeting Held

On Thursday, February 18, 2021, the Sixth Tokyo Treasure Islands Meeting (Online Meeting) was held. The aim of this meeting was to have representatives of the eleven Tokyo islands present the status of their island's branding initiatives and refine their ideas by sharing new business perspectives, knowledge, and insights.

This time, as with the 5th Meeting held in November 2020, the event was held online, connecting the mainland Tokyo venue to each island virtually in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The following is a report on the meeting.


●Presentations of each island's past initiatives and future developments

First, each island took turns giving a presentation.
The first island was Niijima. Based on the brand concept of "an island that connects with the new," members of Niijima's meeting have begun offering experience-oriented programs and a new method of physical transportation to guide visitors and connect them to attractions scattered across the island. Specifically, they introduced the Velotaxi on a trial basis as a new means of transportation. They have also designed a "Velotaxi Tour of Niijima" and registered it to TABICA, where it has already been made public. Finally, they are distributing the second issue of the Niijima Treasure Island Newspaper to all households on the island and posting information from the "Tokyo Treasure Island Niijima Team" on social media to broadly inform people on and off the island of these initiatives.


Presenter: Mr. Nishitsugu
"First, are recruiting drivers to ensure that this experience-oriented program operates consistently. We are also planning to hold a test ride event in April so that island residents can actually experience the Velotaxi. In the future, we would also like to be actively involved as a team in solving problems and issues on the island when there is a need from local residents and proposing specific activities to tackle environmental problems related to the ocean, which is a common treasure of the Tokyo Treasure Islands, in collaboration with the eleven islands."

The presentation materials are available here.

The brand concept of the second island, Toshima, is "fully enjoying the blessings of an island, providing happiness for 6,000 years." Considering the issues that Toshima faces--limited capacity to receive tourists and low recognition of the island--members of Toshima's meeting have been working to promote Toshima's appeal by developing original specialty products that use ingredients representative of the island. They have been collecting product ideas from island residents with the aim of creating "products that the people of Toshima can love and be proud of." With the help of experts, members repeatedly created and tasted sample products, and decided on the recipe for a product with input from people visiting the island as a part of the Furusato Working Holiday program. In addition, they are building a system to ensure the safety, quality, and deliciousness of the product by inviting production control experts to conduct training on the production process and by creating a production manual.


Presenter: Mr. Hasegawa
"Going forward, we plan to debut the finished sample product on the island and increase public awareness of it while gathering opinions on the name and package design, which will allow us to finalize the product. We also need to prepare for development of a second and third product. The reason why we decided to make this product in the first place was because we thought that it would be better to have an off-island base where we could increase Toshima's name recognition considering the circumstances of the island, and in order to do that, we needed a product. We would like to return to this starting point and reconsider what we will do with the finished product."

Details about the presentation are available here.

The third island was Chichijima, whose brand concept is "an otherworldly island where life shines as it is." Members of Chichijima's meeting have been working on two initiatives: creation of the Ogasawara Traveler's Log (Oga Log), a communication tool to connect island residents to visitors, and the Chichijima Mirai Conference, a space for people to think about Chichijima's future.
Samples of the Oga Log notebook were completed at the end of 2020. Members have been engaged in PR and sales using a crowdfunding platform since January 2021. In February, they established the Oga Log general incorporated organization.
Regarding the Chichijima Mirai Conference, five conferences were held between September 2020 and January 2021. Participants identified key concepts such as "moving away from economism toward local production and consumption" and "achieving Chichijima-style industries."


Presenter: Ms. Sugo
"We are currently raising funds for the Oga Log through crowdfunding and are now in the home stretch. At the same time, we are also in the middle of increasing our sponsors by offering Ogasawara specialty products together with the Oga Log as returns, for example. During the Chichijima Mirai Conferences, participants have identified increasing consumption on the island, communicating the island's culture, raising awareness on the island, and increasing the number of members as the mission of 'Chichijima style.' At our recent conference, the vegetable waste issue was discussed. We will continue to work steadily on this."

Details about the presentation are available here.

The brand concept of the fourth island, Mikurashima, is "an island where everything becomes special and treasures you." Aiming to provide experience-oriented content that allows people to feel the specialness of the island, members of Mikurashima's meeting have been implementing the "Mikurashima Winter Sharing Project" while discovering the appeal of the kabutsu (daidai), a citrus fruit grown on Mikurashima in the winter. Through this project, they have created a system to expand the island's fanbase by recruiting kabutsu trial users through social media and other means and asking these users to share the fruit with their friends and acquaintances. At the same time, they are also working on collaborative projects with BathHaus, a public bathhouse in Yoyogi-Uehara, and the Tokyo Takarajima Shoten, a pop-up shop in BEAMS JAPAN, Shinjuku.


Presenter: Mr. Yamada
"We are collecting recipes and new ideas for using the kabutsu and Kabutsu Kosho (kabutsu chili paste), which we will use to create a recipe book in the hope that it can be used at accommodations and restaurants. The aforementioned collaborations are ideas that we could not have come up with on our own, and we would like to keep working on these initiatives in cooperation with the executive office."

Details about the presentation are available here.

The fifth island was Oshima. This fiscal year, based on the island's brand concept of "a repeat-worthy island where you'll find things just right," members of Oshima's meeting are working to develop activities and services around the figure of the Anko-san, and to spread this information. Using the Motomachi area as the starting point for initiatives themed around "making Motomachi into Anko-san Town," they are moving forward with three action plans: (1) producing an Anko-san booklet and special website featuring Anko-san, (2) planning meals that allow people to easily interact with Anko-san, and (3) building friendships on the island.


Presenter: Mr. Chiba
"Through the booklet and website, we would like to reach as many people as possible and inform them of the various activities and efforts related to the Anko-san. From there, we are thinking of actually incorporating the Anko-san into various areas. As progress continues on Japanese Geoparks activities, we would like to collaborate with the Izu Oshima Geopark to make our activities more widely known in the town, as well as focus on community education so that children can learn about the time of the Anko-san and this valuable part of the island's culture."

Details about the presentation are available here.

The brand concept of the sixth island, Aogashima, is "an island with picturesque views and superb oceans that waken your strengths." Members of Aogashima's meeting have been discussing how to build relationships with core fans of Aogashima who value and enjoy the unique aspects of the island, such as its nature, lifestyle, and people-to-people relationships nurtured by the island's unique environment. While direct communication with visitors has been difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic, members are creating a leaflet to share Aogashima's attractions and the island residents' lifestyle and values. Their goal is to create a leaflet that will provide visitors with hints on how to walk around, explore, and enjoy the island on their own.


Presenter: Mr. Arai
"We had been working on the creation of a space where we could build relationships with visitors and rules for drone aerial photography, but with the current COVID-19 pandemic, we are no longer able to easily communicate with people both on and off the island. Despite these circumstances, we are starting to take action to communicate however we can with visitors by handing out leaflets that illustrate parts of the island in-depth from the perspective of island residents, to be used alongside existing maps."

Details about the presentation are available here.

The seventh island was Kozushima. Under the brand concept of "an island with an abundance of water that'll make you realize ordinary miracles," members of Kozushima's meeting have been thinking of ways to enhance the island's brand value by communicating, protecting, and utilizing the appeal of water, the island's treasure. In FY 2020, they set foreign nationals living in Japan as their main target and are working on the following three actions to convey the wonder of Kozushima's water: (1) creating a brand story using language that conveys the value and appeal of water and the fishing industry, (2) considering plans for experiencing water and the fishing industry, and (3) spreading information through an English-language website.


Presenter: Mr. Nakamura
"We plan to launch the English-language website for foreign nationals by the end of this fiscal year, and will be updating the website as needed following its launch. Not only will the website provide information, but we are also working to create a system in the future that will allow people to make reservations directly from the website. We have divided ourselves into two teams--the water team and the fishing industry team--and are working to create brand stories and consider activity plans."

Details about the presentation are available here.

The eighth island was Hahajima. Under the brand concept of "a motherly island where people can live as they like," members of Hahajima's meeting have been working on creating a "space" where people can discuss the future of Hahajima, with the aim of increasing the number of fans of Hahajima. Specifically, they are holding monthly online roundtable discussions called "Hahajima Bukatsudo" that bring together participants from both on and off the island. In addition, they planned the "Hahajima Play" event as an opportunity for children to experience fun activities unique to Hahajima, and held a trial octopus-catching experience in August 2020.


Presenter: Mr. Miyagi
"We set up a Hahajima Bukatsudo homepage. Events are primarily conducted online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we would like to create a space where people can meet up and talk on a smaller scale, as well as experience activities like octopus-catching, which was mentioned earlier. For those who find it difficult to connect online, we plan to start publishing the Hahajima Bukatsudo Newspaper from around February or March and doing PR. Rather than just talking amongst the Hahajima members, we also feel that it is important to conduct these meetings while connecting with people off-island so that we can gain insights from the objective perspectives of outsiders."

Details about the presentation are available here.

The brand concept of the ninth island, Hachijojima, is "a rainbow-colored island where you can restore your colors." Members of Hachijojima's meeting are working on creating a mechanism that will allow visitors to encounter island residents and discover new ways to enjoy their trip. In order to collect and share stories of Hachijojima's people and places, members are creating tools to convey the island's attractions at each stage before, during, and after a trip. One such tool that they launched is the "Seven Colors of Hachijo Talent Directory," an Instagram account that archives 35 people on the island. In addition, they are also thinking about producing an original photo book that will inspire people to visit the island and creating a system to promote exploration of the island, leading to more repeat visitors.


Presenter: Mr. Yamashita
"Starting with this Instagram account, which we launched to promote the 'people' who are the attractions of Hachijojima, island residents are now working together as a team to involve their followers in making Hachijojima a more exciting place together. In the future, we would like to involve all of the people who have grown up and left Hachijojima, and develop this Instagram account into a promotional tool that makes use of human connections."

Details about the presentation are available here.

The tenth island was Shikinejima. Members of Shikinejima's meeting are working to promote the Shikinejima lifestyle, which fuses the island's scenes of "good old Japan" with "workation," a new style of working that balances work and play.
A group of volunteers established Shikinejima Area Management, a general incorporated organization, and started the CoWorkation PROJECT as an initiative to increase the number of "local heroes" (related population) through workations. This fiscal year, they held a three-session program called Shikinejima Academy. The first session was a virtual meeting event for Shikinejima members and program participants; the second session was a two-night, three-day workation monitor tour; and the third session was a meeting to reflect on the previous sessions and exchange opinions on the attractions and challenges of workations on Shikinejima.


Presenter: Mr. Shimoi
"Some challenges also came up while we were holding the monitor tour, and we are now discussing them along with the management system. The first challenge is to improve the infrastructure for receiving visitors, the second is to provide more information, and the third is to improve the system for managing the workspaces. There are not nearly enough people on Shikinejima. We want to connect visitors to people here to create a 'related population,' but there is not enough housing. This has created a vicious cycle where even if people want to move to the island, there is nowhere for them to live. Some people have suggested starting a private rental project as a solution."

Details about the presentation are available here.

The eleventh island was Miyakejima. Under the brand concept of "living with a volcano to awaken the five senses," members of Miyakejima's meeting are working on initiatives to provide visitors with walking, learning, and eating experiences related to the volcano, the island's treasure. Their first initiative is introducing "SpotTour," a digital sightseeing tour app that will allow visitors to explore the volcano's attractions on foot. The second initiative is establishing the "Miyakejima Print Station," a photo printing station that will allow visitors to print out photos they took on the island to take home as souvenirs.
Going forward, members plan to improve volcano-themed tours on "SpotTour" by incorporating outsider perspectives, and work on spreading information to promote the app's use on and off the island. In addition, they will consider a mechanism to attract repeat visitors, such as creating original photo frames for the Miyakejima Print Station.


Details about the presentation are available here.

After each island gave a presentation, participants actively exchanged opinions on insights they gained that they could apply to their own island, as well as what they could do through cooperation across the eleven islands.


●Further cooperation among the eleven islands will help to spread information that makes people say, "I want to go there!"

After all eleven islands presented their initiatives, the Islands Market and the Tokyo Takarajima Shoten at BEAMS JAPAN were introduced as two projects that allow people to experience the appeal of the Tokyo Treasure Islands project.
The Islands Market is an event through which people who are unable to visit the islands due to the COVID-19 pandemic are able to interact online with craftspeople from Japan's remote islands.
The Tokyo Takarajima Shoten at BEAMS JAPAN is a pop-up shop that introduces the appeal of the lifestyles and specialty products of Tokyo's eleven treasure islands.

Finally, members of the Tokyo Treasure Island Promotion Committee offered their comments.

Committee Member Tatsuo Obora:
"I was deeply impressed by how members of each island's meeting have made such persistent and creative progress despite the difficulties they are facing. In order to enhance the brand power of the Treasure Islands, I strongly believe that we need to emphasize a common message about how the Treasure Islands as a whole have an amazing culture and nature that should be maintained, in addition to the activities of each island."

Committee Member Chisato Kaede:
"I was very moved to see how such a wonderful network has been fostered among the members after three years of working on the Treasure Islands project, and I strongly felt that the way everyone respects each other has become a treasure of this Treasure Islands Meeting. I visited Kozushima in December last year and had the impression that the International Dark Sky Place initiative could be implemented on all of the eleven Tokyo Treasure Islands. It would be great if we could somehow promote the idea of Tokyo's starry skies as seen from the islands."

Committee Member Alex Kerr:
"I listened to everyone's presentations with great interest. It seems like all kinds of projects are underway. I visited Aogashima in the fall of 2019, and last year when I had time during the COVID-19 pandemic, I wrote a book about visiting remote villages, titled Nippon Junrei. Aogashima became a memorable island for me, and today, for example, we talked about eco-friendly efforts on Niijima, so I'd like to take more time to see the islands in the future."

Committee Chairman Atsuro Yamada:
"Everyone's stories were truly wonderful, and they really made me want to visit the islands. Nature and other resources are treasures, of course, but after listening to today's talks, I strongly felt that 'people' are the most important treasures. I was also impressed by how far the eleven islands have come in their collaborative efforts. I would like to see more collaboration and involvement on each island, collaboration between the eleven islands, and collaboration with people outside the islands to expand the islands' networks and spread information that will make people want to visit the islands, even though it is a difficult time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope that by collaborating with each other, each one of you will be able to further expand your inner powers and will provide experiences that will make people truly glad that there are islands like these in Tokyo."