Monday, April 28, 2003

Local Tourism

The Gifu Prefectural government will open a new theme park in Minokamo City, called Nihon Showa Mura. It has a period theme and features an old theater, 50's style houses decorated with seasonal flowers, and entertainment from the 50's and 60's. Gifu has been building the park since 1990 and will leave management to a management company called Farm Group.
During the bubble years, the penchant of Japanese local governments to open up huge theme parks became a real problem, and resulted in the disposal of such sites as Sea Gaeia in Miyazaki, at fire sale prices. So it's rather amazing that somewhere like Gifu is still trying to do this.
Still, given the current problems in the world and the reluctance of Japanese recently to travel overseas, maybe the "Build it and they will come" mentality is about to make a comeback. SARS has all but killed off the overseas travel industry for this Golden Week, so there is likely to be a lot of people stuck at home this year who will want to take their families somewhere -- maybe Gifu is the place to go.
Or how about New Zealand-mura, in Tohoku? Maybe you can find out what makes Terrie tick... ;-)

Monday, April 14, 2003


The recent building boom is escalating: followed by the launch of the Maru-biru in front of Tokyo Station recently, Shiodome City Center opened on April 10, and Roppongi Hills will open on April 25. All of these complexes have business offices supported with the latest urban facilities such as restaurants, hotels, shops, etc.
I have heard that the number of young women applying for jobs with companies located at these trendy offices is increasing. They chose to work in such locations not for income only, but also for the lifestyle. Their logic appears to be that if the working conditions are almost the same as where they are now, then they may as well work somewhere where they can have a good time with their friends after work.
Naturally these new building complexes need services people to support the huge number of new tenants. For example, Maru-biru houses about 140 tenants and has 50 service companies with about 5,000 workers supplying those services. Most of these support companies still need staff to handle their operations start-ups. Given that Osaka has had such a hard time recently, I personally hope that the opening of "Namba Park" in October will have the same effect down there. More foot traffic means more business and improved money flow to that area.
By-the-way, April 11 is a famous day for Japanese history. It is the day that the last Shogun was forced to surrender Edo Castle to the Emperor's forces in 1868. The Meiji Period started thereafter and Japan began to industrialize. The city of Edo (Tokyo) has changed a lot since that time. But in a way, this city still needs to be opened up to the world...