Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Japan Tourism

Tourism in Japan comprises both a vibrant domestic sector and over eight million entries each year by foreigners. Today, sites such as Nikko World Historical Site, various attractions in Tokyo (see Tourism in Tokyo) and Kyoto, Mount Fuji, world-class ski resorts such as Niseko in Hokkaidō, Okinawa, as well as aspects of tourism including the shinkansen and well-developed hotel and onsen network are enjoyed by natives and foreigners alike.

History of Tourism

The exact origins of early traditions of visits to picturesque sites are lost to history, but perhaps one of the most famous early sight-seeing excursions was Matsuo Basho's 1689 trip to the then "far north" of Japan, which occurred not long after Hayashi Razan categorized the Three Views of Japan in 1643. During the feudal era of Japan, from ~1600 to the Meiji Restoration in 1867, travel was regulated within the country through the use of shukuba or post stations, towns in which travelers had to present appropriate documentation. Despite these restrictions, porter stations and horse stables, as well as places for lodging and food were available on well-traveled routes. During this time, Japan was a closed country to foreigners, so little to none foreign tourism existed in Japan.

Following the Meiji Restoration and the building of a national railroad network across Japan, tourism became more of an affordable prospect for domestic citizens and visitors from foreign countries could enter Japan legally. As early as 1887, government officials recognized the need for an organized system of attracting foreign tourists; the Kihinkai (貴賓会, Kihinkai?), which aimed to coordinate the various players in the tourism, was established that year with Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi's blessing. Its early leaders included Shibusawa Eiichi and Ekida Takashi. Another major milestone in the development of the tourism industry in Japan was the 1907 passage of the Hotel Development Law, as a result of which the Railways Ministry began to construct publicly-owned hotels all throughout Japan.

Tourism Today

Tourism today remains a vital part of the Japanese economy and society. Schoolchildren in many middle schools see the highlight of their years as a visit to Tokyo Disneyland or perhaps Tokyo Tower in the city. High school students may visit Okinawa or Hokkaidō. The extensive rail network together with domestic flights sometimes in planes with modifications to favor the relatively short distances involved in intra-Japan travel allows efficient and speedy transport from many points within the country.
Source: wikipedia.com

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