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Travel to Japan with “Staycation” Style to Save the City from Ecological Crisis

by Amélie Poulain

With international tourism recovering after COVID-19, Japan has been a popular tourist destination worldwide. Coupled with the depreciation of the Japanese yen, the cost of sightseeing has dropped significantly, attracting many tourists. Although the number of tourists hitting record highs has led to economic recovery, it has also caused overtourism.

Major tourist cities in Japan have been crowded with tourists, causing chaos and triggering ecological and environmental crises.
(Photo via unsplash.com)

TAIPEI, TAIWAN (Merxwire) – After COVID-19 subsided, international tourism recovered, and Japan has become a popular tourist destination worldwide. It is not only the first choice for Asian tourists but also attracts many European and American people to go on vacation. Coupled with the depreciation of the Japanese yen, the cost of sightseeing has dropped significantly, attracting many tourists. According to statistics from the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) in March this year, there were approximately 3.08 million international tourists to Japan in March, an increase of 11.6% from 2019. It is also the month with the highest number of visitors since records began in 1964.

As the number of tourists hits record highs, although it can revitalize the post-epidemic economy, it has seriously affected the lives of local people. Mount Fuji and the Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are crowded with tourists. Some tourists cross the road and litter, causing environmental and ecological risks. Tourists visiting Kyoto trespass on private land to take photos and compete with residents for bus rides. Wakayama Koyasan was originally a solemn and quiet place. The arrival of tourists has caused chaos and crowding of people and vehicles, seriously affecting the safety and quality of residents’ living.

After Japan ushered in so many tourists, it triggered an ecological crisis, so now we must think about how to deal with this overtourism. This promotes environmentally sustainable Staycation and guides tourists away from major cities and into the outskirts of the city to live and travel. On the one hand, this can alleviate the crowds in the city, on the other hand, it can promote the development of other areas, and at the same time, it can also allow tourists to slow down and experience different local cultures and increase the depth of tourism.

Take tourists away from major cities for a short period to live and play in second-tier or more remote places to gain an in-depth understanding of the customs and ecological culture of different regions. Even residents in Japan can consider this kind of travel when choosing where to visit to learn more about their hometown culture and make travel not just for fun, but also a slow attitude towards life, thereby redefining tourism.

According to the “2023 Annual Sustainability Report” shows that the tourism industry currently accounts for about 8% of global carbon emissions, so three-quarters of tourists support “sustainable trips.” We hope to combine all relevant resources such as local ecology, accommodation operators, communities, farmers, fishermen, and artists to promote local planting, local food, and local “Staycation” models.

Too many tourists have seriously affected the lives of residents.
(Photo via unsplash.com)

Taking Hokkaido as an example, there were 960,000 tourists from April to September 2023, an increase of 27.8% compared with 2019 before the epidemic. Many people who go to Hokkaido may go to Sapporo city and visit many famous attractions. But now local guides will recommend longer tours for eco-tours. For example, go to Shiretoko to learn about the ecological environment which includes going to Atosanupuri Mountain to see active volcanoes, going to the beach to see killer whales, going to the ranch to see brown bears, seeing the beautiful scenery of the Five Lakes in summer, and going for ice walks in winter. The ability to have such a rich itinerary is due to Hokkaido’s innate geography and ecological environment.

The Hotel at Shimoda shi in Shizuoka Prefecture, will first understand the interests and ideas of tourists when they visit, and then decide on a sightseeing itinerary based on their needs. Most tourists are increasingly interested in nature excursions and experiencing local cultural activities, so they will participate in rural experience activities, visit wineries, and go to different natural attractions to enjoy the scenery of the four seasons. Some people have even become regular visitors, visiting many times to experience the sojourn life.

Even when traveling to Japan’s largest city, Tokyo, you can avoid living in the crowded city center and experience the charm and tranquility of the outer cities. First of all, first understand the cultural attractions in different peripheral areas to choose a suitable place for your stay. If you go east, you can live in Asakusa or Chiba, if you go west, you can live in Nakano-ku or Kichijoji. If you go north, you can choose Kitasenju or Kawaguchi, and, if you go south, you can live in Kawasaki or Yokohama.

In addition to using the Staycation mode to alleviate the problem of overtourism, Kyoto City also added two new “Tourist Express Bus” routes on June 1, running from JR Kyoto Station to Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Ginkaku-ji Temple. By separating the buses used by tourists and residents, they hope to reduce the problem of residents not being able to get on the bus due to too many tourists. In this way, while promoting the tourism industry, we can reduce nuisance problems through reasonable diversion and achieve a better balance between residents and tourists.

Perhaps this kind of tourism transformation will have a very positive impact on the long-term tourism industry. On the one hand, it can protect the daily life of residents, on the other hand, it can also deepen the depth of tourism. It also increases the number of days tourists can stay, allowing more beautiful scenery and culture to be seen. Traveling is not just about looking at the beautiful scenery, it is also the best time to experience the local customs.

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