A Round-table Talk by Foreigners Living in Tottori "What a wonderful TOTTORI!"
Japan has become a popular tourist destination in the world in recent years. Approximately 20 million tourists visit Japan annually, and the number is even rising rapidly! It is estimated that the number of tourists will reach 40 million in 2020 when the Tokyo Olympics and the Paralympics are held.
Not only major tourist destinations such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto are affected by the influence. Even in Tottori Prefecture, international tourists especially from the Asian region are increasing, and the tourism industry hopes to develop inbound tourism into a new engine of the economy.
In order to explore the attraction of Tottori Prefecture to international tourists, TOTTRIP set up the opportunity to invite five foreigners who came from all over the world to talk about tourism in Tottori prefecture. They taught us the wonderfulness of this place.
※Interview on January 2017
Participants ※From left to right
He is an international student of Tottori University from China. He has been in Tottori for three years. After graduation, he plans to stay in Tottori and work in tourism industry. He has rich knowledge and curiosity about tourism.
He is an international student of Tottori University from Botswana. He studies about strong agricultural crops to arid climate to improve his country's agriculture. He always brings home Japanese Miso Soup as souvenir.
He is an international student of Tottori University from Indonesia. He has been in Tottori for 16 months. He studies very hard to go to graduate school. He has interest in local culture and festivals.
Mr. Oliver Edwards
He is from Scotland. He is a highschool ALT. He has been in Tottori for four years. He likes climbing and onsen.
Mr. Justin 柿木
He is from Canada. He is a junior highschool ALT. He has been in Tottori for almost two years. His hometown Toronto is a big city. That's why he likes a lot of beautiful nature in Tottori. He likes the ocean and Daisen G beer.
"I was surprised by a lot of nature and relaxing lifestyle in Tottori. It wasn't what I had expected."
ジュリタ：I had an image that "Japan is a developed country", so I thought that everywhere in Japan are only cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Then, I came to Tottori and I was surprised to know that there are places where a lot of nature remains.
Justin: When I came to Tottori for the first time, I thought people were very nice. Tokyo and Osaka were so busy that I couldn't relax very much. In Tottori, I can spend a relaxing time in most stores and everyone is very kind. I think Tottori is better than a city.
チョウ：I agree. I was surprised by the tranquility of Japan. China is very busy and noisy. I was also amazed by the clean city and the well-organized road. Japanese people's manners are great.
ジュリタ：Hospitality is amazing. Everything is served by a good manner.
マランバン：I think Tottori has delicious fruits like a pear. We don't eat raw egg and raw fish, so I'm not a big fan of sashimi and sushi.
Oliver: That's too bad. Fishes in Tottori are delicious.
チョウ：Vegetables in supermarket are beautiful. I don't need to wash them so much. Shelf life is displayed properly, and expired goods are not on sale.
ジュリタ：Winter is very cold in Tottori. We don't have winter in Indonesia. I've never experienced such a cold weather.
マランバン：It gets minus two degrees celsius in Botswana but never snows.
Oliver: It gets cold in Scotland as well. So I am OK with winter. I was more suffered with the humidity of Summer.
マランバン：Air-conditioner is a must!
We enjoy tradition and culture unique to Tottori!
Justin: I love the ocean. My favorite spot is Higashihama Coast in Iwami Town. The coastline is beautiful, and the water is very clear. I can sea kayak there. Last year I tried SUP (Stand-up Paddle Boarding) and it was a lot of fun. There is a cafe called "ALOHA" by the beach. It is awesome having lunch while watching the sea.
Oliver: I also work in Iwami Town. I often go to Uradome Coast. The scenery is really beautiful. I love climbing, so I go hike at Mt. Mani in Tottori City. It's not famous, but it's very nice. I don't go to Mt. Daisen because it is famous and crowded.
Justin: Nature is very beautiful in Mt. Daisen, but it is a bit too busy with a lot of tourists. Since there are many mountains in Tottori, I like to climb different mountains. I think other mountains are also very beautiful.
ジュリタ：I am interested in festivals in towns and villages. I went to a festival called "Inaba Mochigase-yado Yokocho Sanpo-ichi" in Mochigase Town. There were many food stalls. It was nice to see local people selling local things. I heard the population of local cities like Tottori has declined steadily. It seems that this kind of events may stop young people moving to big cities.
Justin: There is a great tug of war festival in Misasa Onsen in May. The festival is called "Hanayu Festival". I joined the tug of war last year for the first time, and I was very impressed! A long rope is set on the road, and anyone can jump in and pull it all together.
チョウ：I've joined Tottori Shan-shan Festival. People march in front of Tottori station while dancing with umbrellas for two hours. It was a lot of fun.
Oliver: I also joined the festival two years ago. Dancing was not difficult, but it was really hot!
マランバン：I've been to Tottori Hanakairo Flower Park. The flowers were very beautiful.
Justin: There is a beautiful light illumination at the park in winter. I want to see it. I often go bike to Kokufu Town's Amedaki Falls. The big waterfall and the surrounding green are very beautiful. There is a delicious tofu restaurant.
Oliver: Mitakin-en in Chizu town is a great place. Autumn leaves are very beautiful. I think the charm of Tottori is that it has beautiful small towns like Chizu town, Shikano town, Iwami Town and Yoshioka Onsen. There may be nothing special to see, but they are calm and beautiful. There are small nice cafe and bakery. I like that.
チョウ：Hokuei Town is famous for "Case Closed".
Oliver: Did you know about "Detective Conan" before you come to Tottori?
ジュリタ: Yes. The comics are translated in my country. There are manga comics, anime and even a movie. I enjoy each episode.
Oliver: Sakaiminato City is famous for "Gegege no Kitaro". Hokuei Town is famous for "Case Closed". Iwami Town is famous for "Free!". I sometimes see people doing a cosplay of "Free!" character in Iwami Town. I don't know about the anime at all, but it's funny to see them.
Tottori should be more pround about food! International tourists will be attracted to local gourmet which can't be found anywhere but Tottori.
Justin: Speaking of Tottori, "Matsuba crab" is delicious.
ジュリタ：Especially crab soup in winter.
チョウ：I have tried "Sugegasa Gozen" at Restaurant Yumekomichi in Shikano Town. The dish is placed in Japanese sedge hat. It was delicious. I thought it was very traditional.
Oliver: Tottori is famous for curry. Ramen with beef bone broth is also delicious. There is a specialty food for each town, for example, white squid in Iwami Town, watermelon in Hokuei Town. I think that is interesting. Hokuei Town's "Suika Nagaimo Health Marathon" offers all-you-can-eat watermelon. Iwami Town's "Uradome Coast Health Marathon" offers squid. Who wants to eat squid after marathon (laugh)? It is really funny.
Justin: I like huge rock oyster and deep-fried hatahata.
マランバン：The food I think is delicious is rice cake. I love it. I also tried Japanese vegetarian dish in Mt. Daisen. It was really delicious.
Oliver: It is difficult to find vegetarian food in Japan. It is slightly expensive even I find one.
Justin: I often go to events where alcohol drinks are offered. Daisen G beer is delicious. I went to the beer festival of a beer restaurant "Gambarius" in Mt. Daisen. It offered all-you-can-drink with only 1,000 yen (excluding tax). I went twice last year. Asahi and Sapporo beer are more delicious than Canada, but Daisen G beer is the best.
Oliver: Japanese sake in Tottori is delicious. I like Suwaizumi of Chizu Town and Bentenmusume of Wakazakura.
チョウ：Wow, you know so much about sake (laugh)!
Oliver: I also have tried wild boar hamburger at a bakery in Chizu town called "Talmary". It was great. Tottori has a lot of nature, so people who visit Tottori probably want to eat local natural food.
Justin: I have tried Mapo tofu using deer meat at "Cafe d'art musse" in the Tottori Prefectural Museum. It was very delicious. Have you tried it?
チョウ：There is a saying in China that "Dragon Meat in Heaven, Donkey Meat on Earth". Donkey meat is considered the most delicious in the world, so I've eaten donkey, but never tried deer and wild boar. I want to try someday.
ジュリタ：If I were to PR Tottori food in my country, I would go for pear. It is very sweet and delicious.
Justin: Japanese fruits are delicious. Canadian strawberries are very red but not sweet at all.
What's missing from tourism in Tottori?
English signs and transport.
ジュリタ：Cool rental bicycle would be good for active people.
Oliver: Rental electric bikes are available in Iwami Town. It was very convenient! There is a hill on the road. It is a little difficult for a regular bike.
チョウ: There is also rental bike service in Tottori City, but it seems not many people know about it.
Oliver: I have seen a poster about rental bike service at Tottori station, but it was a bit confusing.
チョウ：There is not enough PR. It rains in Tottori. Cars are easier if you go to Tottori sand dunes and Iwami Town.
Justin: Bus is also a bit difficult.
Oliver: Tottori It is a little difficult to get around in Tottori without a car. For foreigners, it is difficult to read bus time and route. Also everything is written in Japanese, so it's hard to know where to get off on the bus. I think English pamphlet, signs and announcement in the bus are very convenient.
Justin: I'd like to visit hot springs in Misasa Town, but I can't go without a car.
マランバン：Taxi is expensive.
チョウ：There is a special taxi service for sightseeing in Tottori City, but it has time limit. I would prefer getting a car by myself so that I can use time freely. It would be great if rental car and taxi get cheaper, and bus is more convenient and easy to understand.
ジュリタ：It would be nice to have a place to pray for Muslim people. I think that Muslim tourists will increase if there are more halal (*1) food options.
Justin: English guidance is a must after all such as English signs, pamphlets and tourist information center. More PR should be done.
※1 Halal is a food that is allowed to eat on Islamic law. Vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs and milk are halal, but pork and alcohol are forbidden.
If we are a tourism ambassador in Tottori Prefecture,
We would recommend nature!
Oliver: Most international tourists who come to Tottori probably have already visited Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. So, they don't have much interest in urban atmosphere, shrines and temples. I think they are looking for local traditional culture, festivals, nature and slow life in Tottori.
ジュリタ：We don't have four seasons in Indonesia, so I think nature such as forest and autumn leaves are very attractive. People who major in Japanese language should be aware of beautiful Japanese nature, but most people don't know about it.
Justin: How about showing photos and videos of beautiful landscape of Tottori on facebook? Most Japanese movies and TVs are shot in Tokyo or Osaka, so foreigners would think Japan is like that. When people google "Tottori", it would be good to appear pictures of beautiful scenery of Uratomi coast, Tottori Sand Dunes, Mt. Daisen, autumn leaves and snow scenery. I'm sure people would feel like going to Tottori!
ジュリタ：I agree. Indonesian people like "talking". We get information by listening to people more than searching on the web. However, listening to people's story may not make people wish to visit the country. After all, pictures and videos would make people actually go see the beautiful scenery.
チョウ：In that sense, SNS such as Facebook and Instagram is important so that we can share impression and information.
Oliver: When I visit a new place, I often use google map. I arrive at a station and check a restaurant nearby on the smartphone.
Justin: A burger shop near Tottori station has quite a lot of visitors from outside Tottori. 100yen will be discounted if you upload a photo on Instagram, and many people get to know about the shop.
チョウ：I would like to recommend a sightseeing boat at the Uratomi coast. My friends from China enjoyed the boat in last september. After that they went to Osaka and Kyoto, but they didn't seem to have so much fun because it was very noisy and hectic.
ジュリタ：Wherever you go, places with too many people are definitely not so fun to be.
Oliver: I think Tottori is suitable for people who like outdoor activities. We can ski and snowboard in winter. Flowers bloom in spring. It would be nice to hike and bike. The sea is beautiful in summer. Autumn leaves are also very beautiful in autumn. If I were a tourist, I would climb a mountain from early morning, and go relax at a hot spring after climbing, then go to Izakaya and enjoy local food and sake.
Justin: I was born and raised in Toronto, so when I came to Tottori for the first time, I was a bit worried to live in such a country with a lot of nature, but now I love Tottori so much that I don't feel like going back to Toronto!