Study Tour for Developing and Revitalization of Regions in Yamagata
Since 2018, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies has been organizing eight-day study tours in Yamagata prefecture (referred to as “Yamagata Study Tour”) during the summer and winter quarters to revitalize the local areas by disseminating the allure of Japan’s countryside and promoting sustainable inbound tourism. Yamagata Study Tour is a course subject (summer and winter intensive) for two credits under Liberal Arts Courses open to all three undergraduate schools.
TUFS Today features this Yamagata Study Tour in this article to promote the registration for this year’s summer study tour which will start on May 23 (until May 28). Students who are interested in participating in this study tour, please join the guidance session on May 22 (Wed) 11:45 – 12:30 at room 226 of the Research & Lecture building (for English guidance).
The goal of the Study Tour
1．Contribute to society in regards to area revitalization
The local areas of Japan are facing many challenges. Low birthrate and an aging population are causing the local industry to struggle due to lack of successors; inbound tourism not being sustainable due to lack of understanding between the tourists and those who accept them, to name a few. The main goal of this project is to contribute to the area in its search for solutions to such challenges by utilizing the understandings toward diversity which TUFS excels at, and the various ideas of the international students coming from different parts of the world.
2．Nurturing human resources
To nurture young human resources who are well educated and equipped with a global perspective, we need to provide them with the opportunity to understand the structural challenges of the society they live in and also to acquire the attitude to tackle such challenges and ability to think. Japanese and international students will experience this through collaboration among themselves and the local people.
To accomplish the above goals, TUFS signed a partnership agreement with the four local governments of Yamagata prefecture (Sagae-shi, Shirataka-machi, Takahata-machi, and Iide-machi) and organizes study tours in summer and winter quarters.
Students participating in the Yamagata Study Tour will first participate in preparatory learning at the Fuchu Campus. In this preparatory learning, students will gain specialized knowledge about Yamagata Prefecture, the problems and realities of inbound tourism, and the overseas expansion of Japanese companies, with the cooperation of Yamagata Prefecture Tokyo Office, JTB Global Marketing & Travel, JETRO, Cabinet Secretariat “Machi, Hito, Shigoto sousei-honbu” (literally translated as Creative headquarter for Town, people and work).
Can regional revitalization be accomplished with “tourism”? How can “tourism” benefit the local residents? What strategies are necessary to export regional products overseas to revitalize local industries? You will participate in preparatory learning to help you become more aware of these issues during the study tour.
In 2018, 31 students (23 Japanese students, 8 exchange students) participated in Sagae-shi, Shirataka-machi, and Takahata-machi in the summer semester. In the winter quarter, 26 students (9 Japanese students, 17 exchange students) participated in the Yamagata Study Tour in Sagae-shi and Iide-machi.
Students from many different countries and regions participated. Indonesia, Australia, Canada, Cambodia, Korea, Greece, Colombia, Georgia, Thailand, Taiwan, China, Mexico, Hungary, the Philippines, the US, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, Lithuania, and Japan. It doesn’t get more TUFS than that!
Activities on Location
After gaining knowledge on inbound tourism and regional revitalization beforehand, you will then be involved in research and activities for one week in Yamagata.
The 2019 Summer semester study tour will comprise of 6 nights and 7 days from the 24th to the 30th of September, in Sagae-shi, Shirataka-machi, Takahata-machi, and Iida-machi.
The winter schedule will be announced in October.
The following is what we learned and achieved in 2018.
- Discover and promote tourist attractions
- Practical training at tourist facilities
- Picking blueberries and summer vegetables
- Maintaining the hiking route of Hayama known as training route of Shugendo.
- Setting up TUFS booth at the Snow festival
- Communicating with the students of local elementary school.
- Safflower picking/Benimochi(pulp state of safflower that is made to effectively extract the red color from safflower) making/other agricultural activities
- Supporting local revitalization through handicrafts (pottery, sericulture, silk dyeing, and weaving)
- Japanese traditional sweets making
- Discover and promote tourist attractions
- Creating export proposals for local Food Manufacturing Companies (Meat & Fruit Processing)
- JETRO Collaboration Work
- Proposals for the revitalization of Showa En-musubi Avenue
- Practical Training at the Tourism Association
- Sharing Takahata-machi’s charm through social media
- Conducting surveys on the town’s tourist resources and making proposals for new tourist attractions ( in collaboration with JTB Global Marketing & Travel)
- Survey on current rice farmers and proposals for exporting rice (in collaboration with JETRO)
- Setting up TUFS booth at Nakatsugawa Snow Festival
- Communicating with local farmers through farm stays
Sharing the final results
In the last day of the study tour, each city will hold a debrief meeting. Students will summarize the results from the study tour in a blog and present it.
After the study tour, students will write individual reports and look back on the study and practice.
The debrief meeting will also be held at TUFS and students participating in each city will report their results.
Yamagata study tour
Students participating in the study tour are managing several websites for the Yamagata study tour. These are linked in the official blog below. Please take a look!
Yamagata study tour is being carried out by obtaining cooperation from many people. We would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to organizations and everyone cooperating with us.