Accepted Paper:

Various trends in sustainable tourism in Japan  


Munehiko Asamizu (Yamaguchi University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper offers a brief general description of ecotourism and rural tourism in Japan. Nature-based satoyama experiences are popular among tourists from urban areas. The national government and some municipalities in Japan have been supported in developing rural tourism.

Paper long abstract:

Japan's nature-based tourism is categorized into two major types, ecotourism and rural tourism. Ecotourism is supported by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) with the Act on Promotion of Ecotourism (Ecotourism Suishin Hou), which was enacted in 2007. Major destinations for ecotourism include UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites and national parks in Japan. Nature-based activities such as mountain climbing, trekking, animal watching, canoeing and more are also common in Japan.

Meanwhile, rural tourism (green tourism in Japanese) is another kind of sustainable tourism. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has been supporting rural tourism with the Green Tourism Law (Green Tourism Hou) of 1994 (enacted in 2005). Nature-based satoyama experiences (in the natural surroundings around rural villages), agricultural activities and farm stays are popular, particularly among tourists from urban areas.

In addition to the sustainable tourism supported by the national government, community-based sustainable tourism is also available in Japan. Some municipalities, such as the former Ajimu Town in Oita Prefecture, Tohno City in Iwate Prefecture and Iida City in Nagano Prefecture, have been supported in developing rural tourism. Though Yamaguchi Prefecture has some mass tourism destinations, the prefectural government is also politically and economically supporting local founders of community based tourism programs.

Panel P010
Anthropology of human-nature relationship in 21st century Japan: perspectives from ecotourism and rural revitalization