9th Tokyo Treasure Islands Meeting Held

The ninth Tokyo Treasure Islands Meeting was held on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. The meeting was held on-site for the first time in two and a half years, with online participation as well. The meeting consisted of a case example from an island of another prefecture, and presentations of this year's activities from the twelve organizations selected for the "Tokyo Treasure Islands Acceleration Program".


●Introducing the Various Efforts of Koshikijima, Kagoshima prefecture

In the first segment, Mr. Kenta Yamashita, representative director of "island company" in Koshikijima of Satsumasendai City, Kagoshima, appeared as a guest speaker for "case study of regional revitalization efforts in other regions". Mr. Yamashita shared his efforts in the last Tokyo Treasure Islands Meeting and was well received by the participants, receiving many questions. This will be his second appearance.


Although Mr. Yamashita's efforts are mainly based on Koshikijima, he is also working as a liaison that connects the island to other neighboring islands.

What began 14 years ago as an effort to preserve the scenery of their hometown by reclaiming abandoned farmland and setting up unattended stall of crops, has gradually become a project that many people of the island are involved in. It is now attracting great attention from outside of Koshikijima as well.

In recent years, the number of visitors to Koshikijima is increasing. A package plan that provides accommodation along with daily island experiences such as tofu making, or buying beer at a neighborhood store to enjoy the evening, is especially popular. Repeat visitors are increasing, knowing which accommodation will take them to interesting places.

However, having more tourists at an island not intended for tourism may not always be desirable to the islanders. "We must promote tourism not for the sake of tourists, but from the perspective of how the islanders want the island to be in the future, and how tourism can support it." These words gave insight to regions with small capacity for tourism.


The second half was about the "Kagoshima Prefecture Outlying Islands Cultural and Economic Zone" a joint effort with the other islands of Kagoshima. In the prefecture where 10% of its residents live in islands, people of the islands began working together four years ago to think about the future of the islands. As a result, the efforts have become diverse, from joint product development to holding events.

There were many questions from the participants, asking how these efforts started, and how to gather people. There were many positive comments, saying that they were encouraged for their own activities.

Despite being an island with a small population, Mr. Yamashita is able to cooperate with other islands and have a large number of supporters outside of the island. His efforts are filled with hints that can be applied to Tokyo Treasure Islands.

●Ambitious Plans of 12 Selected Organizations

The second segment consisted of presentations by the 12 organizations that obtained support from the Tokyo Treasure Islands Acceleration Program. This time, seven organizations presented on-site, and five online.

The first group is "Izu Oshima Mirai Project." With idea of creating a tour of "learning, conversing, and creating," they are developing a tour that not only visits tourist spots, but can also build deep relations with people living on the island. To realize this, their plan is to design workshops where everyone involved has an opportunity to think creatively, train facilitators who can manage the workshops, and run a monitor tour to test out the project.


Representative Mr. Chiba:
"By developing workshops and training facilitators to run these workshops continuously, we hope to create a sustainable system for the island and the relationships of the people involved."

The second group is "General Incorporated Association Shikinejima Area Management." Their idea is to promote island workcation in Shikinejima. It aims to attract companies and revitalize the local economy so that more companies would choose the island as a workcation site on a regular basis. It also aims to build a population of continuous relations through workcation, which may lead to securing human resources where needed, or even settlement of people. Even if many people came to Shikinejima for a long workcation, however, there are not enough houses. To solve this problem, their idea is to set up a program for long-term stays in cooperation with accommodation facilities.


Representative Mr. Shimoi
"Currently there are many people coming to the island for a workcation. We hope to solve the shortage of human resources by building relations with them."

The third group is "Toshima Specialty Product Development Team." Their current project is to make chili oil with Toshima islanders by using local ingredients. They plan to commercialize the chili oil made from Toshima's camellia oil, ashitaba herbs, and island chili peppers. They will also hold tasting sessions and conduct questionnaires with the islanders to better collaborate with them.


Representative Mr. Kato:
"I believe thinking about objectives is the most important. For this project, first is about adding value to Toshima materials and commercializing them. Second is making a product loved by the Toshima people. Third is conveying the charm of Toshima to people outside the island through our product. It's important to have people know about Toshima through our products."

The fourth group is "Shin 7iro8jo Project Team" of Hachijojima. This time they are working on developing a mascot character of 7iro8jo (Nanairo Hachijo), the icon of tourism resources of Hachijojima, and promote branding through social media. The island has been communicating its great human resources as Nanairo Hachijo up to now. This time, they will delve deeper into and share the appeals of its tourism resources using the character. Their presentation gave an idea of what the video would look like.


Representative Mr. Utagawa and member Ms. Mochimaru:
"With the character as base, we will deliver a wide range of content, from the great people of Hachijojima and their works, their thoughts about the island, popular places of Hachijojima, as well as places only the locals know."

The fifth group is "Aogamirai team" from Aogashima. They are working on setting up a web media "Aogamirai" to connect Aogashima to the future.
The current population of Aogashima is 166, and is declining. In order to halt this decline and increase the population as much as possible, they are using web media to deliver the islanders' thoughts for Aogashima and visions for the future. They also aim to hold events on and off the island for fans who want to connect with Aogashima.


Representative Ms. Sasaki:
"Aogashima is the lease populated municipality in Japan and is said to be an island of isolation in the sea. But it is also a land of opportunities. We think it's the people of Aogashima that brings people to the island after all. So we plan to publish the interviews of the islanders on the web to convey Aogashima's appeals."

The sixth group is Hachijojima's "Re:TABI with Nanairo Hachijo." They are proposing a new way of travel by branding Hachijojima's mountain in its off-season from the perspective of "altruism" and incorporating them into a travel app.

The keyword "altruism" for this project is "to deepen 'connections' sustainably in order to live with others." To promote Hachijojima's mountain as a year-round tourism destination, they are planning to develop partnerships with companies and conduct monitor tours by utilizing travel app of smartphones.


Representative Mr. Uotani:
"There's a story in the way people of Hachijojima interacts with nature. Many islanders valued the connection with the nature of the island. We are planning of sharing this way of "altruism" through Instagram, as well as link this concept to tourism."

The seventh group is "Toyko Treasure Islands Team Oshima." Their project is titled "Tokyo Treasure Islands Izu Oshima 'protocol' Project." The word 'protocol' implies the preparation time before start of a volleyball match.

By inviting pro volleyball athletes to participate in a volleyball event with children of the island and have them share the appeals of Oshima, and by inviting students who play volleyball to a monitor tour, they aim to increase the population of interaction with Oshima.


Representative Mr. Kobayashi:
"Together with those who help support the volleyball of Oshima, and by recruiting new members, we hope to make Oshima a sports tourism destination. We hope to convey the appeals of Oshima to sports players, on and off the court.

From here on, the presentations were done online. The eighth group is "Kozushima Value Increase Project Team." They are working on conducting demonstration tours for responsible tourism and adding value to existing tours.

Kozushima's high season is mainly July and August. In other months, attracting tourists is a challenge. This time, they will target mainly foreign residents in Japan to conduct monitor tours such as starry sky cruising. In order to brush up the tours, they will hold preliminary lectures for the participants to understand Kozushima's strong points and current challenges.


Representative Mr. Tanaka:
"Before coming to the island for the monitor tour, we will share the current situation of the island with the participants for their prior knowledge and understanding. By asking the participants to come up with ideas to solve the issues and engage in the tour proactively, we aim to achieve a monitor tour of high quality. Results and experiences will be designed, and then be promoted on social media. Through the realization of responsible tourism, we hope to achieve a stay that will be appreciated by both the visitor and the host."

The ninth group is "Aogashima Kanju Taiko." They are working on a branding project through Aogashima's local culture. The efforts include managing "Hello Aogashima" official twitter account, local performing arts exchange events, and holding of an Aogashima symposium.

While it was still difficult to create opportunities for communication in the community, they invited traditional performing arts from other islands and broadcasted it online as part of "local performing arts exchange." They also plan to hold Aogashima symposium in Tokyo in order to have more people become familiar with the culture of Aogashima.


Representative Mr. Arai:
"Aogashima has nature. Aogashima has people. Aogashima's culture is built upon the interaction of the two. It won't be complete without the other. We want ourselves and many people to experience that moment of the local culture."

The tenth group is "Long Stay Promotion Project for Foreign Visitors to Japan" of Chichijima. The goal is to increase the number of long-stay foreign visitors to Chichijima by creating a good working environment that would allow them to stay for possibly even longer than ten days.

While many places still provide workplace information only in Japanese, the project is conducting market research of long-stayers of English-speaking countries and developing a program as well as improving the English environment in the island. After developing the program, they will conduct monitor tours for foreign influencers. They are also to work on creating an effective web page to reach out to foreigners, as well as conduct a demonstration experiment of electric motorcycles as a means of transportation on the island.


Representative Mr. Nakabayashi:
"We will do research on long-stay programs of other countries and aim to make a sustainable long-stay program of Chichijima."

The eleventh group is "Mikurashima Local Cuisine Preservers." The project aims to pass on the local ingredients and cuisine to future generations through a sustainable system.

Mikurashima has been developing recipes of local cuisines and recipes that uses local ingredients. This year, more islanders are to join in to have a wider range of recipes. Not only that, they will work with a food coordinator to come up with recipes that can be easily incorporated into daily life. The goal is to spread the local cuisines to people of the island so it would continuously be offered at the island's accommodations and restaurants, as well as island events in the future.


Representative Mr. Inoue:
"We will carry out our efforts of local cuisine preserving by these three bases: strengthen the relationship with Mikurashima fans, make things that are unique to Mikurashima a part of everyday life, and make it a sustainable project for the next generation."

The last group is "Chichijima Future Conference." To realize Chichijima's brand concept of "Island of a different world where life shines as it is," they will release videos based on their meetings held each month and the theme of "diversity" to convey a way of sustainable tourism of Chichijima.

Also, a "Chichijima Future Conference Symposium" is planned to take place next year in January. The goal is to have more islanders join the cause by explaining the contents of the discussion meetings held every month.


Representative Mr. Fukazawa:
"We believe it is important to learn by actually going to the leading-edge areas. There are probably many islands even within Japan that are practicing the kind of island-building we are aiming for. We would like to go to those places to learn and become friends with the people there."

Some questions and answers were exchanged during the presentations, showing great expectations of future developments of each group.

Mr. Kenta Yamashita in his closing statement: "Please don't confuse the purpose and the means when you are working on your efforts. Think of why you are doing what you do, and what unique aspects you can share about your island. I also felt that all islands would become even more interesting if you can not only try to convey in your own words but also carefully build up your concept to really get the message across to others. I am very excited for the projects."


The enthusiastic presentations by everyone of Tokyo Treasure Islands gave us great hope in how the efforts will continue to be carried out.