Accepted Paper:

Tourism after the East Japan disaster: Innovating anthropology through the study of tourism  

Author:

Shinji Yamashita (Teikyo Heisei University)

Paper short abstract:

Examining tourism after the East Japan disaster that occurred on March 11, 2011, this paper theoretically, methodologically and practically intends to innovate contemporary anthropology concerned with reflexive modernity in the age of global mobility.

Paper long abstract:

The East Japan disaster that occurred on March 11, 2011, had a serious impact on tourism in Japan. The disaster was a complex one caused by three factors: an earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear power meltdown. After the disaster, the number of international visitors to Japan dropped by half in March 2011. The main reason was that the image of Japan's safety was shaken, especially due to the Fukushima nuclear plants' meltdown. As of March 2012, one year later, the number of international visitors to Japan overall has recovered almost to the same level as before the disaster but certainly has not been restored yet in the devastated areas. The disaster thus uncovered the vulnerability of the tourism industry. Focusing on tourism after the disaster, this paper examines the implications of "volunteer tourism" organized by NGOs that intends to support the people in devastated areas, while paying special attention to the concept of kizuna or "social ties." The paper is also concerned with a newly emerging tourism that emphasizes "learning" (manabi) from the painful experiences of the local communities in the devastated areas. The paper then considers the positive roles that tourism plays in the reconstruction process of the disaster. Rethinking the conventional dichotomies found in the anthropology of tourism - such as host/guest, leisure/work and domestic/international, the paper theoretically, methodologically, and practically intends to innovate contemporary anthropology concerned with reflexive modernity in the age of global mobility.

Panel G42
Tourism and anthropological theory and practice (IUAES Commission on the Anthropology of Tourism)