4th International Symposium on Aspects of Tourism
THE END OF TOURISM? Mobility and Local-Global Connections
Eastbourne June 23/24 2005
Sustainable Tourism in Japan
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt
University of Applied Sciences Stralsund






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  1. Nation-building

‘Ambitious Japan’, as it calls itself in English on the new Shinkansen 700 trains, today appears as an insular, industrial society stranded in a globalised postindustrial world, trying to retain (mainly imagined) pre-industrial values. Whereas many societies are in a process of changing from "World as a theater" to "World as a workshop", the japanese society sticks to bolted-on masks.

‘Inventing Japan’ (Buruma 2003) after 1853 meant the double and contradictory task of ’restoring’ the rule of the Emperor, the Shinto religion and ‘national’ pride through attempts of catching up with 'modernity' to become a leading member of modern nations.

Three major attempts to achieve this failed in 1921, 1945 and 1990.



In the development of Japanese domestic tourism this is reflected in the successful decade-long marketing campaigns of “Discover Japan” in the 1970s and “Exotic Japan” in the 1980s.

‘Discover’, starting after the EXPO in Osaka, appealed to young (mainly female) Japanese not to visit meishos (noted places) but rather to find the spirit of the ‘old’ Japan in encounters with it and therefore to find themselves.

“Although this Japan was billed as native and original, it was a Japan in many ways unknown to its young urban travellers. .. Japan beckoned as something strangely familiar: the native remote.” (Ivy 1995, 47)




‘Exotic’ took the nostalgic longing one step further: Stylish and arty in appearance, it enticed to travel within Japan not to rediscover ‘old’ Japan, but the nostalgia for it, the lost feeling of the feeling of loss.


Furusato (old hometown) tourism is another important part of domestic tourism of inventing the nation and "reconstructing selected images of the Japanese people’s traditional way of life." (Moon 1997, 185)


 Contact: wolfgang.arlt@fh-stralsund.de  Tel. +49 (3831) 456 961