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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Japan Wants Gaijin - How About Me?

Howdy! Matthew - my long-time friend and cohort of many an adventure in Japan sent me a tweet regarding the Japan Tourism Agency.

Guess what? Not enough people are visiting Japan, what with the earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear power plants nearly melting down. Those are all valid reasons NOT to visit Japan, but I hope that through blogs like Japan - It's A Wondeful Rife, Jimbo's Japan, Marketing Japan, Living And Teaching In Japan, and hundreds other excellent blogs, we've been trying to show you Japan in a different light. One that is not all about death and destruction (though we all have an opinion on it - and talk about it as fairly as we can), but rather one that shows Japan as a pretty cool country with lots of curious and odd and interesting things people should want to see first-hand.

Hell... I lived there for three years and haven't even come close to seeing a percentile of Japan.
It's why I write about it for you... it's so I can learn something, too.

Anyhow... like the title says, the Japan Tourism Agency is giving away 10,000 free round-trip tickets to Japan. 

So... what's the catch?


The catch is, you need to publicize your trip on blogs and social media sites.

Really? Cool. Isn't that what I've been doing since 1990 when It's A Wondeful Rife first saw print as a column in the monthly Tochigi-ken AJET newsletter: The Tatami Times? Isn't that what I've been doing with Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife since I first began writing it back in July of 2009? I even Twitter about it. And might soon join Facebook if someone can show me why.

Heck - everytime I open my mouth here in Canada someone gets to hear about my love affair with Japan.

Anyhow... in the first three months following the triple disasters, the number of foreign visitors to Japan was cut in half, compared with the same time in 2010. The strong Japanese currency has made matters worse.
The tourism agency says it plans to open a website to solicit applicants interested in the free tickets. Would- be visitors will have to detail in writing their travel plans in Japan, and explain what they hope to get out of the trip. Successful applicants would pay for their own accommodation and meals. They would also be required to write a review of their travel experiences and post it online.

“We are hoping to get highly influential blogger-types, and others who can spread the word that Japan is a safe place to visit,” says Sato Kazuyoshi, with the agency.


The agency has requested more than a billion yen to pay for the tourism blitz. If lawmakers approve the funding, Sato says visitors could begin signing up as early as next April.

Oh crap... there's the catch. In the only direct quote in the story, Saito says they are hoping to get highly influential blogger-types. I guess I'm not influential enough despite having the Asian flu. (cough cough).

Also... what the heck are 'blogger-types"? I don't know that font. Either you blog or you don't blog. You are a blogger or you aren't. Tweeting about things in 140 characters (including spaces) is hardly blogging... so Sato-san can't be talking about Twitter writers. Facebook and all of the fake friends who only seem to want you as a friend to status. Whomever has the most fake friends wins, or something ridiculous like that. 

Hey Sato-san. How about sending myself, my wife and my soon to be 6-year-old son to Japan so we can see all of the beauty of the country. So that we can meet people and talk with them about why Japan is such a wonderful country. My son would appreciate it. He wants to be a ninja or a laser-beam wielding samurai robot when he grows up. Would you deny him the chance to learn first hand that his dad has been right to rave about how wonderful Japan was to him lo those many years ago? I'd love to be able to track down some ex-students and have their children meet mine. Many of my students would be 12 years younger than me and might actually have children as old or older than my son. Wouldn't my wife love to meet some of my many girlfriends that I had there?  Hmmm. Scratch that. Wouldn't she want to see why I love Japan so much? How it made me grow up? It did, despite the antics of myself in some of these blog entries. Wouldn't you all like to see me go back to my adopted home just to say hi? Oh what fun times we would have. I could have a glass of milk with Mike Rogers in Tokyo! I could finally see that sumo tournament I always wanted to see! I could cover the FIFA Club World Cup for everyone. I did play and coach women's soccer for years.... though I did play men's soccer only.

It's a pity I couldn't afford the accommodations or travel when there. But surely I could stay at a friends house.

Ahhh... one day perhaps. I did promise my son that one day I would take him to Japan. That's a promise I aim to keep. 

And forgetting about me and my family - send my friend Matthew Hall there with his wife, daughter and son. Let them see Japan again for the first time. Let his kids see his grandparents, cousins and and aunts and uncles! Matthew can write! He can post his blogs here if he wants, or start up his own. I know he wants to!
Yes - Sato-san! Send Matthew back to Japan! (Errr... if he wants to, of course). 

Cheers
Andrew Send Him to Japan Joseph

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