JIN-332 -- Summer Travel: Where the Japanese Are Going and Why

T H E J @ P A N I N C N E W S L E T T E R
Commentary on the Week's Business, Technology and Cultural News

Issue No. 332
Wednesday August 3, 2005 TOKYO

+++ VIEWPOINT: Summer Travel: Where the Japanese Are Going and Why
1. The Continuing Allure of Audrey
2. Inoue's Enthralling Tale


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+++ VIEWPOINT: Summer Travel: Where the Japanese Are Going and Why
1. The Continuing Allure of Audrey

JTB estimates 2.49 million Japanese will travel abroad during summer
vacation, the period July 15 -August 31 in Japan. That is an increase
of 0.4% year on year. Which is a good index of the soupcon of renewed
confidence in the economy. How will the Japanese travel this summer?
About half will travel as part of a group tour and half will make their
own plane and hotel reservations, if we extrapolate from a reader survey
by the "Asahi Shimbun," a major daily newspaper. The group tour is a
favorite method of Japanese travel and as emblematic of the Japanese group
as the logo-embossed flag it dutifully follows at sightseeing spots at
home and abroad, although the new breed of Japanese traveler prefers the
solid recommendations of a guide book and exploration on their own.

Where have the Japanese gone or plan to go this summer? More prefer
Italy to anywhere else, according to the same survey. The reasons are high
brow and low. Amongst the former is the wealth of cultural artifacts, and
the latter includes a yearning to tread in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn
in "A Roman Holiday," for the the pull of her pixie beauty and William
Wyler's fairytale romance remains strong.

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2. Inoue's Enthralling Tale

China was the 13th choice, with 94 of 3,124 survey respondents saying they
would visit their giant neighbor. Korea was 15th (56). The message to both
countries: you pay for anti-Japanese demonstrations in tourist yen. How
much? Well, 22% of respondents budgeted less than 200,000 yen for their
vacations, 16%, less than 250,000 yen, and 12 percent, less than 300,000

China and Korea do present peculiar experiences for the Japanese traveler.
In China, a Japanese could find himself in a place without reference to
the sad bilateral relationship in modern times. He might perchance even
reach a place of positive associations, like Tun-huang, an erstwhile
kingdom in China's westernmost frontier. This obscure stretch of desert
rose to fame with the discovery of 20,000 Buddhist scrolls and manuscripts
in its Thousand Buddha Caves in the early 20th century. The late Yasushi
Inoue (1907-91), a novelist beloved by the Japanese and respected in
China, spun a Byzantine and captivating tale of how these writings came to
be hidden there. Tun-huang will remind any middle-aged or older Japanese
of Inoue's profound respect for Chinese culture and history.

Korea, however, lacks a continental vastness where a Japanese can escape
the dark events of modern history. Remarked an "Asahi" reader, a
42-year-old woman from Fukuoka, apropos her first trip abroad, to Korea
four years ago: "Every sight-seeing spot I visited was a place destroyed
by the Imperial Japanese Army. The trip was not at all enjoyable."

There is, however, hope. A 43-year-old man, also from Fukuoka, remarked:
"I've visited Korea more than a dozen times because of the convenience of
the high-speed ferry. There is strong anti-Japanese sentiment there. But
Koreans are very kind to individual Japanese."

--Burritt Sabin

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Written and edited by Burritt Sabin (editors2@japaninc.com)

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