10th Tokyo Treasure Islands Meeting Held
The tenth Tokyo Treasure Islands Meeting was held on Thursday, February 8, 2023. This tenth milestone meeting held since the first Tokyo Treasure Islands Meeting, was held in a hybrid fashion with both on-site and online participation.
●Conveying Appeal Starts from Local Pride! Introducing Case Studies of Community Collaboration through Food
The first segment was a lecture on the theme of “introducing case studies of inter-island collaboration in other regions.” Welcoming Mr. Toshio Kiya as a guest, he talked about communicating appeal starting from local pride, led and collaborated on by residents.
Mr. Kiya is a regional development producer from Aomori Prefecture. He is known as the “sensation-making contractor” who connects towns and villages. Mr. Kiya is involved in numerous community vitalization projects such as community-building through tourism, branding businesses for regional local produce, local produce development workshops, and more. This time, since “collaboration” was the theme, he introduced case studies of collaboration with other regions to create one’s own living, transmitting information, and connecting it to vitalize the community.
The first was a case of several communities in Kyushu that collaborated to present foodstuff to restaurants and gained responses.
Kyushu farmers and fishers who were introduced in an informational magazine for tourism gathered in Fukuoka City and planned an event to propose foodstuffs to restaurants in the city. Producers from Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima conducted presentations on foodstuffs for restaurants and had them try dishes made during the presentations to create connections with those restaurants.
By tasting dishes made by the producers who know the best conditions of the foodstuff and listening to the producers talk, the restauranteurs gained interest and business negotiations started on the spot.
These efforts triggered the development of green tourism efforts in the wider area, and now, activities in which leaders and practitioners in each prefecture collaborate continue in the form of a general incorporated association, Muratabi Kyushu.
● Regional Collaboration by Tourism Starting from Tuna, the Maguro Joshikai
The second case study that was introduced was a regional collaboration between Aomori and Hokkaido based on their common specialty of Oma tuna. Oma used to be a secluded region, but it became an area where a lot of people visited through projects to revitalize the area such as welcoming guests on boats with tairyobata (traditional fishermen’s flag signifying a large haul returning), showing catches of fish, and using eye-catching copies to disseminate information that transmitted the appeal of the town.
When the Hokkaido Shinkansen opened, two women who were key people in vitalizing Aomori and Hokkaido met and the Maguro Joshikai (tuna girls’ club) was formed. The members of the Maguro Joshikai, which was formed with the aim of connecting people across the Tsugaru Strait and becoming the driver to vitalize the Tsugaru Strait area, visit different towns and develop programs to have people enjoy experiences.
The rich and varied programs that have visitors enjoying towns, cultural aspects such as the Tsugaru-jamisen (traditional three-stringed instrument), and food became so popular that they won an award from the Japan Tourism Agency. Now, there are almost 90 members in Aomori and southern Hokkaido, and the collaborating areas continue to expand. The club members are also active as central members of the Tsugaru Strait Area Wellness Expo, an initiative led by women living in the Tsugaru Strait area, that can be said to be the foundation for increasing the number of people interacting with the area from outside the Tsugaru Strait area and expanding the number of hours spent there by visitors.
● People Laughing and Enjoying Activities Is Important
After the lecture was over, it was questions and answers time.
Participants voiced comments such as that they were impressed by the people of Oma uniting and cooperating, and that they were moved by the sight of women taking up leadership is vitalizing towns.
Mr. Kiya commented that “in the case studies I introduced this time, they weren’t successful from the start. However, as young people leave towns, people thought that they shouldn’t let their towns end with their generation, and that led to these activities.” He expressed his support for future activities.
In response to a question on how to keep motivation up in the regions, Mr. Kiya also talked about the importance of laughing and enjoying these activities. In Oma, under the slogan “let’s all laugh in the community” they are undertaking efforts that make people laugh, such as a unique T-shirt that reads “tuna for life.” How to have the people in the community enjoy themselves is an essential point.
It was a good opportunity for the participants to listen seriously about various interesting case studies and reflect on what people could do on their own islands.
● In a Group Discussion, Group A Made the Meeting into a Space to Think about Travel to the Tokyo Islands
In the second segment, participants were divided into two groups and held discussions for about an hour. The theme was “with collaboration between groups, perhaps these plans can be realized.” It was a plan to discuss virtual efforts that could happen if groups collaborated horizontally.
Group A’s theme was “a new kind of tourism.” This group went back to the roots, thinking first of all, “what is travel?” to discuss what travel meant to each of the participants.
The most common opinion to come out was that in modern times, it was easy to reserve accommodations and public transportation, making travel feel like something that was “given,” as if shopping in a convenience store. The kind of travel that the participants envisioned was different, that they wanted to discover how to enjoy traveling on their own.
Opinions on how people would not go back to the same destination twice simply because of a magnificent view came up, as well as stories of customers who were crestfallen by bad weather even though they had come to see the stars, but ended up enjoying talking to people at their accommodations. Unlucky happenings and unexpected situations could turn into good memories by the power of people, and the idea came up that it would be good to have a space where people could meet each other, gather, and share common experiences.
Additionally, opinions were exchanged holding lectures about the islands online in advance so that participants could discover ways of having fun, and hints to discover ways to have fun such as getting different perspectives by seeing the same view from a standing position and a kneeling one.
Based on these discussions, the idea came up of introducing how to enjoy volcano trails on each island making use of the common element of volcanoes, which is shared by the islands, and as well as the idea of holding bar events where people would drink local alcohol in accordance with full moons, spring tides, and other natural cycles. The participants liked these ideas enthusiastically.
Mr. Takayuki Uotani of Hachijojima’s Re:TABI with Nanairo Hachijo Project and Mr. Kentaro Tanaka of the Kozushima Value Increase Project Team introduced the episodes and ideas that came up in the discussions.
● Many Ideas for Developing Content Came Up in Group B
Group B’s discussion theme was “new ways to sell content that convey the attraction of Tokyo Treasure Islands.” Many people participated online as well, making the discussions lively.
As opinions came up for problems related to content about the islands such as “it is difficult to make island content reach outside the islands,” “shipping becomes expensive when taking them out of the islands,” and “isn’t there a way to made events on each island shared?” This time, it was decided that the main theme to be discussed should be “how to transmit the content we currently have outside the islands.”
Numerous opinions came up such as that since many people didn’t know about the islands themselves, it would be good to make it so that if people became interested in one island, they would become interested in the other islands, or that teams should be formed for social media and videos to have island influencers introduce things and events on other islands. Another idea was to create mascots on each island for people to become fans of, which would create a horizontal connection.
Conversely, the potential of having islanders whom visitors would want to meet become key people to expand the fan base without depending on mascots was also discussed.
Next, the topic moved on to whom such content should be delivered. A keyword discussed here was “island hoppers.” These are people who like islands to begin with and were always thinking about which island to go to next. The idea was that if we could provide such island hoppers with information about other islands, they would become interested in the other islands as well. The opinion came up that in order for this to happen, it would be good to convey in videos shown on ships to the islands not only image clips, but also clips that showed life on the islands more deeply.
However, this would require people on each island to learn more about other islands. Everyone agreed that exchanges between the islands should be more frequent to have people living on each island to learn about the attractions of other islands and convey them.
The presentation was led by Mr. Aomi Asanuma of Hachijojima’s Shin 7iro8jo (Nanairo Hachijo) Project.
Many ideas and comments about collaboration between the islands related to food also came up in the presentation. One such idea was creating an “island parfait” gathering together local fruit and sweets from each island. It seems the content collaboration between the islands still have the potential to grow.
After hearing the presentations of each group, Mr. Kiya gave a comment of support saying that he hoped that discussions on such collaborations would continue.
“If people go to the islands, they would definitely be satisfied, but what is important is how to rouse the feeling of wanting to go. We need to spread the word, but the word needs to reach people to make them want to come, so please think of ways to reach them. Collaboration can start from even just two or three people. Start with small ripples and turn them into big waves.”
● Thinking about the Future of Tokyo Treasure Islands, Competition and Collaboration Are Important
Lastly, Mr. Yamada, chairman of the Treasure Island Promotion Committee gave a message, bringing up the life of fashion designer Coco Chanel as an example, talking about people establishing a brand, the importance of a customer viewpoint, and the importance of deepening exchanges while competing to provide good things.
“Just like Chanel is a brand that reflects the lifestyle of Coco Chanel, it is people who make a brand. Just as I decided to revisit the islands because I thought the local islanders I met snorkeling were enticing, I believe it is important for people to be enticing. It was impressive that both groups discussed the importance of people in their discussions. Going forward, I hope that you will deepen exchanges between the islands, and compete to draw out your own color while collaborating to create something together.”
This fiscal year, twelve groups have been making creative efforts at Tokyo Treasure Islands, and the outcomes thereof are just starting to show at the end of this fiscal year. Both friendly and serious discussions took place between the islanders this time and it seems that possibilities for inter-island collaboration have emerged. The tenth Tokyo Treasure Islands Meeting was concluded with everyone looking forward to the future developments of the islands.