Getting off the Golden Route

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi on Mt. Gassan

I had my first experience using Clubhouse on Thursday. I think it’s a great concept that reminded me of having a group phone call and being a radio DJ at the same time. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Thanks to the hosts for inviting me, I had a really good time and felt they did a great job of managing the conversation. With such a new concept, it’s interesting to see people already making conventions to push the concept forward.

The conversation was about how to get travelers to Japan off the Golden Route of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. As the only one on the panel actually living in rural Japan, if I’m being honest at the start I felt it’s a bit rich to hear opinions from people whose very survival relies on the Golden Route, but the ideas proposed were genuine and by the end I felt that their heart was really in it.

I’m extremely proud of the fact that some people who come to us for Yamabushido training, it’s their first time to Japan. I haven’t heard of this anywhere else, maybe Hokkaido for the snow, or Hida Takayama, but this shows me that we are on to something. People are coming for the experience first before coming for the sake of coming to Japan.

This is to say that our concept is a good one that could and should be replicated throughout rural Japan. A lot of it comes from working within the constraints of the current system, but with a global outlook from the outset, and a great concept that markets itself.

The challenge then as I see it is for those who really want to see rural Japan get more of the pie to help these rural areas develop similar concepts to ours; to actually get involved in the concept design, to create purple cows that market themselves, rather than just influencing people to go there. Or, more realistically, the influencers can continue doing their job and help other people with a global mind to not get bogged up in the bureaucracy, and get into the concept design instead (which some of them are already doing).

Either way, I look forward to developing this conversation, which we may well be doing on Thursday evening on Clubhouse again. Stay tuned for more.

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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 

tim@timbunting.com

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