Walking for Japan

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel news

Japan: Rising again

This Sunday, March 11 sees the anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. Just one year ago at about breakfast time the news came through of the catastrophe. And a year on, Japan is using the opportunity to thank individuals and the 163 countries that helped out during the emergency.
By the end of 2011 tourism had rebounded largely through the efforts of the country to promote itself, About 1,000 journalists from around the world were taken there to show that Japan was open and looking forward to welcoming visitors. Year-on-year, it looks like numbers dropped by only about 4% but that conceals the fact that Europeans stayed away in much higher numbers. But Japan is rising again as it says in a poster where a stylised carp is seen jumping upstream
A campaign to encourage us to visit the country began in February and runs until March. In addition to thanking the world for their support (and how many countries ever do that?) the campaign is called “endless discovery” as Japan offers skiing in their summer in the north to a heritage second to none; a Spring cherry blossom season that is famed the world over and an infrastructure scheme for rail and road that is envied for its reliability and punctuality.
And Japan is also thanking Thomas Koehler, a Swiss national who worked in Japan as a tour operator and who decided to show the world that Japan was still open for business.

Thomas Koehler


How?
By walking 2,900 kilometres from the top of Japan in Hokkaido all the way to Kyushu in the south. During his walk his blog had 130,000 hits and his trek was covered by newspapers, television and radio. Now a film is in post- production about his achievement. What he showed was that Japan was overwhelmingly still open for business but it had another impact as well. His walk was a morale booster for Japanese who expressed surprise and pleasure at a foreigner doing so much to help their country.
If you can get BBC World they are running a ten day programme called Japan Direct from 5th March about the disaster and how tourism might help rebuild Japan’s economy. This will only be the start. Expect to see a lot more campaigns from Japan this year to encourage us to go there.

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