Thursday, June 8, 2017

Waifu Tourism: Using Japanese IP to market "Content Tourism"

Japan see the potential in Content Tourism; Government immediately starts doing it wrong.

So what is Content Tourism and why are they putting it in a blender with Cool Japan and then just pouring it randomly all over the place?  Well apparently, it is in the hopes of increasing international tourism in Japan.  Content Tourism is simply capitalizing on people's desire to visit specific locations because said locations were featured in a particular work (novel, TV show, movie, youtube video, whatever), this is slightly different from historical tourism (civil war battlefields, Jack the Ripper crime scene walking tour), only in that the source material for the impetus behind undertaking content tourism is fictional.  Both try to attract visitors by providing an intangible value to their tourist activities, in this case access to places connected to things they find interesting.  Or tangible value depending what's available in the gift-shop.

I'd like one meth please.  Every fandom has meth.
Every. Fandom.

Japan, being a popular setting for many modern fictional works of popular culture, has no shortage of such locations, but has been sorely lacking in the ability to genuinely connect them to the "Content" of Content Tourism.  Yes, you may have loved Initial D but are you gonna go rent a Golf GTI or whatever and drive around Gunnma?  You might think Crayon ShinChan is hilarious but are you going to go wander around Saitama trying to just drink it all in? (Side-note, It's best just to never ever go wandering around Saitama, seriously, there be some strange things that happen there, arg).  So the conundrum is obvious perhaps, connect places with popular anime and you'll get your tourists looking when where that thing happened that time in their favorite anime.  How do we connect things?  Well technology, it's Japan how else are they going to approach this, you expect them to hire some kigurumi people to just walk around and wave at everyone?

It costs extra if you want to know which ones in this picture pee standing up.

Rather than go with that potential creepy-factor, the geniuses at JETRO have decided to Pokemon-GO the hell out of this idea.  Now you can use a mobile device to look around a specific site or building and see that hot little waifu of yours peaking out from behind a corner.  Maybe they'll even narrate self-guided tours or tell which nearby kissaten is going to tolerate your weaboo-speak that you think is Japanese.  This is an interesting add on and another way the government is going to spend money on a good idea, look back at in 4 years, and say... "well that didn't work either, so what's next?"  Well that "conundrum" I mentioned earlier is probably not the impediment in this scenario which is going to be the most immovable.  What is happening is something like the Yamato effect.  No not that Yamato.  More about this later.

So who is coming to dinner?
Well, according to the JNTO, the countries that send the most tourists by far are the countries in close proximity, so it's not surprising to see Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong  be the top sources of international visitors.  But guess who's #5 on the list... that's right it's 'Murica, which so far is beating out Thailand.  This is also based on tourist visa numbers so US Armed Forces in Japan don't get included in these numbers.  You would expect Australia to have high numbers as well but they don't. And if you combine the USA with Canadian visitors, it outnumbered all visitors from the entire EU.  Outside of East Asia, North America is the next most important contributor to tourism numbers from Japan (combined figures 2012-2016 from the JNTO). 

So, are the increased foreign tourists going to be likely coming from countries that are already among the top contributors, or will they come from new sources that previously hadn't been significant sources?  Well that's the big question isn't it, but with geopolitical instability being what it is, Japan and Russia not becoming besties any time soon, and the growing competition out there, it looks like the man source is going to be an increase from the cash cows.  But that means there's going to be another problem.

The Yen is too damn high.

Exchange rates are something I have talked about before.  Or here too.  But it should be brought up again because the JPY and its stubborn immobility when it comes to rates against the USD and other currencies , it creates the perfect storm of antidote to any pull efforts that this program is going to have with many foreign  tourists who would find value in this type of Content Tourism.  They are all young, and underemployed, paid stagnant wages, have student debt that is astronomical, and have basically been all kinds of screwed.  If you're not a baby boomer, then you are statistically nowhere near the type of person that has the money or time to go an international vacation to one of the most expensive countries in the world.  Coincidentally if you're not a baby boomer, you're exactly the type of international tourist that this program is supposed to appeal to. 

That means that this program is probably so much more effective on domestic tourism markets rather than foreign tourism (with the exception of the ROK, but ROK to Japan is like USA to Canada, it almost doesn't count as an international excursion).  Domestic Japanese will feel a great appeal for this more than foreign fans but more importantly will have the means to capitalize on this opportunity for a valuable experience.  They ill not be tethered by tourist schedules and the need to see things in order of importance.  Seriously, if you're from outside Japan and it's your first time in Kyoto, you will be going to Kiyomizu regardless of what this program has to offer.  If you live in Japan you might have seen it before or can come back to it.  If you live in Japan you won't be worried about international data charges on a wireless device or having to have a whole other one just for this to work.  If you live in Japan you would know that acting like an anime character in public is just as socially frowned upon as if you were in the USA and lived as if you were one of the characters in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  If you live in Japan, you are the market that this would bring the most value to.  But where are they taking it?  Where it doesn't belong.  If the Japanese government were serious about getting more foreign tourists to visit, they would focus on ways to make it affordable for a young American couple in their 20s who were born the same year as Otakon started, to be able to get there at all.  But that would mean falling out of love with Tokyo, and it's not really in keeping with Abenomics (whatever it happens to be this election).

So now, connecting that to the Yamato effect at this point should be easy. The Yamato was truly a magnificent piece of engineering.  It could shoot at you from so far away that the curvature of the earth itself prevented you from seeing it.  It had an elite crew, lots of power, and was the perfect flag ship for any navy... if it had been in the Battle of Jutland.  They had the best, most bad-ass Arceus they could have, and threw it at 10,001 Charmeleon who were all in a really bad mood.  Results were as to be expected.  So the Yamato effect is when you have something that's amazing at what it does, and do incongruous things with it.  Yes you could cut 9 feet of plywood with a premium Dremel router bit, but a table saw is going to do that better.  The same is happening here.  Japan has the best knife to win a knife fight with, and they're fighting someone with a gun they bought from a pawn shop.

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