The Japan Foundation, Beijing
In summer of 2010, the Japanese government expanded the issuance of tourist visas to Chinese individuals. Most of Chinese tourists, however, still prefer to visit only major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kobe. To promote further understanding of distinctive local culture, society, and customs of various cities throughout Japan, the Japan Foundation, Beijing presented a series of lectures on prefectures in Japan.
The first lecture entitled "Hometown of Japanese Mythology - Simane" was held on July 22,. Mr. Yumihiko Nakatsukasa, a representative of Matsue City, introduced the five best places to visit in Shimane that he recommended. These attractive sites include the famous Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine, the sunset at Lake Shinji, a hot spring that still remains local, and the Yaegaki Shrine that is famous for a divination of people's future love life. Mr. Yasuaki Hayashi, a representative of Shimane Prefecture, introduced the Oki Islands. He talked about fishing spots and wonderful time that he can share with his local friends thanks to the small population of islands, and showed DVD on the islands. At the end of the lecture, Mr. Nakatsukasa and Mr. Hayashi danced to Yasugi-bushi, Shimane's most popular folksong. They also instructed the audience who wanted to learn how to dance this traditional performance art.
The second lecture was held on July 29 with the theme "Hometown of Echigo Beauty - Niigata." Mr. Kiyotaka Sato, the vice director of Niigata City's Beijing office, introduced Niigata's beautiful scenery of all four seasons and local food culture, as well as famous manga artists, actors and models from the prefecture. He also showed a video on Kodo, the world-famous wadaiko team from Sado Island, and their vigorous beat of drums impressed the audience. Everyone at the lecture participated in "True-False Questions on Niigata" and the person who answered all the questions correctly was awarded a bottle of sake made in Niigata.
The third session took place on August 18 entitled "Food Kingdom - Hokkaido: Delicious Hokkaido and Trend in Sapporo." Mr. Takeshi Hayata from Industries and Commerce Section, Department of Economic Affairs, Hokkaido Government, held "Hokkaido Bingo" to introduce distinctive charms of Hokkaido with keywords such as Heritage in Hokkaido, Soup Curry, and Lavenders. Winners were awarded delicious food products made in Hokkaido. Mr. Kiyoshi Sumita and Mr. Yasunari Nakajima from Economic Exchange Department Sapporo presented a variety of charms of Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, including the sophisticated design brand "Sapporo Style," Sapporo City Jazz, and Hokkaido University. In "Sapporo A or B Quiz" held with everyone at the lecture, the final winner was awarded fashion accessories of "Sapporo Style" brand.
These three lectures attracted about 450 people in total. We believe that they discovered new charms of Japan.