International tourism is a vital component to every country. It contributes to their economic, social, cultural, and educational status. Japan happens to offer a ton when it comes to tourism. Since Japan is comprised of many different climatic regions, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Otaku culture, culinary tourism, and high end fashion and electronics shopping, many tourists flock to Japan. Japan has very little natural resources except for the fish market, so tourism is a huge factor in economic success for the country.
Any sector of a country faces challenges and like many other countries Japan’s tourism sector has a few challenges of its own.
Japan is a country that is comprised of four large islands and many smaller ones. Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu are the four largest islands of Japan. The population of this small country holds surprisingly more than 127 million people (Lew, Hall, & Timothy, 2015). This makes Japan to be considered one of the largest countries in the world due to its population size.
Ethnically, Japan happens to be comprised of 98.4 percent Japanese, which makes them a very homogeneous country (Lew, Hall, & Timothy, 2015). The fact that Japan was geographically isolated is what strengthened their ties to their homogeneous culture. Japan lies between the Sea of Japan and the North Pacific Ocean with no land boarders. There is no shortage of rugged mountainous terrain, although the majority of its residents only occupy the low land areas leaving the mountains for temples and resorts. With that there comes two dominate religions, Shinto and Buddhism. Shinto is Japan’s oldest religion which held its ground in Japan’s pre-historic period, while Buddhism did not migrate over until the sixth century (Watt, 2003). Many of their temples and shrines can be found in both the mountains of Japan and their cities.
Although Japan has a relatively high ratio of people to land, their birthrates for the country seem to be declining gradually every year. A major long term economic factor has developed from the shrinking population, mainly due to a decline in demographics (Japan, 2018). The security results that arise from this economic problem include battles from both North Korea and China. Put that aside, Japan is currently one of the world’s most highly developed countries. The Japanese economy has been boosting with the “Abeconmic” policy enforced by their Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (ABECONOMICS, 2018). Abeconomics sees the decrease in population as an opportunity. The new development for human evolution will enhance the competitiveness in the industrial sector and create a society that is more tuned into individual needs (ABECONOMICS, 2018). This will result in higher production, income, consumption and demand, which ultimately raises the Gross Domestic Product for Japan.
The role of tourism in Japan’s national economy is strong. The projected outcome of GPD for Japan’s tourism sector is a rise all over the board including, GDP direct and total contribution, employment direct and total contribution, visitor exports, and investments (Economic Impact, 2018). By the end of 2018 Japan is estimated to have 29,294,000 international tourists arrive, with a 4.2 percent increase ten years from then (Economic Impact, 2018). Currently, Japan is ranked fourth in travel and tourism’s total contribution to GDP (Economic Impact, 2018).
Throughout Japan, especially in Tokyo, a popular tourism trend is experiential travel. Experiential travel allows the tourists to take away experiences instead of purchasing souvenirs. Since Japan holds its culture and traditions highly there are a ton of journeys to be taken within the destination itself. Now, let’s not be mistaken, the Japanese love to shop for personal items and gifts for others, but having tourist understand their culture is important as well. With the many shrines, temples, ceremonies, museums, and festivals there are many experiences to be taken away with experiential travel. To top all of that off they even have a crazy amount of weird and unique culinary experiences like the Kawaii Monster Café, Alcatraz ER, and Vampire Café just to name a few. Traveling from one city to another has been made super easy with their high speed bullet train. These trains allow for all individuals to travel what would normally take all day driving, in just a few hours by railway. Although it is a very expensive endeavor, they do allure tourist by offering a rail pass for different regions in Japan at a discounted price. This is a little perk only for foreigners to take advantage of.
There are many reasons why tourist visit Japan. Some of the major tourism markets are heritage tourism, gourmet food, pop culture, modern art, and skiing. Japan values the many traditions and practices that they have cultivated. Between Japans history and religion, there are many festivals held to symbolize numerous aspects of their culture and tradition. There are many shrines and temples across Japan which include gardens and castles and traditional Japanese theater which offer cultural experiences (JNTO, n.d.). Japan is full of many different cuisines and many of them come from their own unique region. While sushi plays a major role in Japanese heritage there are other attracting culinary tastes like noodles (ramen, soba, udon), sashimi, curry, yakiniku, and many more. Some tourists prefer the over the top Japanese fashion and entertainment. Pop culture happens to be one of the biggest exports that Japan has to offer (JNTO, n.d.). Japanese pop culture has a worldwide influenced on everything from anime to videogames. Deviating from traditional architecture in the Japanese pagodas and other structures, modern art and a robust architecture style has evolved. Tourists come to see Japan’s precious heritage and explore its future with their cutting-edge modern design (JNTO, n.d.). Lastly, Japan is a diamond in the rough when it comes to ski enthusiast with world class snow. Many tourists come from all over the world to ski the mountains on the main island, but mostly on Hokkaido. In addition to all of the skiing offered, many of the ski resorts have hot springs (onsens) and sightings of the infamous snow monkeys.
There are many popular destinations throughout Japan; Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Fujisan (Mount Fuji), Hiroshima, Okinawa, and Hokkaido are just to name a few. Other tourist attractions include the 22 World Heritage Sites through the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Tokyo is a major tourist destination and has many cool sites to see. Most commonly known for its pop culture and outrageous fashion, Harajuku is a special ward of Tokyo. Within Tokyo lies the Senso-ji Temple, Meiji Shrine, and Tokyo Imperial Palace which hold a ton of culture and traditions to learn. Some of the most common tourist attractions are the Tokyo Skytree, the Tokyo Tower, and the Tsukiji Market. Just outside of Tokyo there is the famous Mount Fuji which is a UNESCO site, Tokyo Disneyland, and Tokyo DisneySea. Tourists who are looking for a more cultural and historical site will visit Kyoto, Nara, and Hiroshima. Kyoto was known to be the Imperial capital of Japan before being moved to Tokyo and is home to the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (UNESCO World Heritage Center, n.d.).
Nara is also home to a few World Heritage Sites including the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara, Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area, and the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes of the Kii Mountain Range (UNESCO World Heritage Center, n.d.). In addition to all of the cultural and historical attractions to Nara, Hiroshima has an abundance of tourism to offer. There are many historical sites to visit which includes some dark tourism destinations. During World War II, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima leaving the Genbaku Dome the only structure left standing (UNESCO World Heritage Center, n.d.). Another famous tourist attraction in Hiroshima is the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, which is a shrine where the sea is in the foreground and the mountains are in the background. The last two most popular destinations to travel to are Okinawa and Hokkaido. Okinawa houses one of the top 5 largest aquariums in the world. Many tourists visit Okinawa for its climate, beaches, shopping, and food. On the other hand, Hokkaido attracts most of its visitors for their perfect snow conditions. One of the busiest times of the year is when Hokkaido holds their Snow festival in February annually. Hokkaido offers many luxury ski resorts, onsens, nature based attractions and even the Sapporo Brewery. The most famous natural attraction is an extraordinary ecosystem called Shiretoko that is also a World Heritage Site (UNESCO World Heritage Center, n.d.).
Japan is branded not only in both traditional culture and technological innovation but also for their weird and unique sense of style. Akihabara is one of the world’s main electronic capitals of the world (Lew, Hall, & Timothy, 2015). Harajuku is the special ward to travel to if wanting to experience all of the funky fashion and high end shopping. Lastly, Japan as a whole from top to bottom offers a plethora of cultural and religious destinations. Shrines and temples cover this massive island from small cities like Misawa to larger ones like Kyoto.
The tourism in Japan has done wonders in regard to helping with the population shrinking. Since the population has been declining, Japan has been using tourists as a means to spend money to make up the difference in the economy. However, their tourism sector does come with a few challenges. Tourism pollution, sky high costs, language barrier, and inconveniences are all challenges Japan faces. Tourism pollution is more of a problem in its historical cities like Kyoto. The residents of Kyoto are facing longer commutes, crammed local buses and trains, and hardship when trying to get reservations for dining out (Brasor, 2018). In addition to all of that, residents also put up with tourists eating on the streets and making way too much noise (Brasor, 2018). On the other hand, Japan faces some challenges on luring tourists into their country. How expensive accommodations, food, transportation and many other factors play a role for tourists when looking for a place to visit. With the Yen being such a high value, tourists may look at other destination options in Asia first (RocketNews24, 2015). When visiting another country, the ease of navigation can be a huge attraction. However, it is easy to get lost in translation in Japan because the amount of English speakers is very low and tourist signs in English are few and far between (RocketNews24, 2015). Not only is getting around the train stations slightly difficult, processing ticket fares can be challenging if you do not have cash on you. Japan as a whole is predominantly a cash society and finding ATMs that take foreign cards can be a daunting task for foreigners.
All in all, Japan is an amazing country to visit. From their snowy mountains, to the bustling cities, to their rural towns there are sites for every adventure seeker. It is important to do research before visiting any city for your own convenience but also for the convenience of the Japanese. The last thing you want to do in insult them (like by trying to tip at a restaurant). Currently Japan has much to offer, and as it finds solutions for its tourism challenges they will flourish even more so.
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Cite this The Sea of Japan and the North Pacific Ocean
The Sea of Japan and the North Pacific Ocean. (2021, May 26). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-sea-of-japan-and-the-north-pacific-ocean/