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Sightseeing Japan

Research of Japan in terms of geography, Why Japan is popular as tourist destination?

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Here is the research which analyze “Why Japan is popular as tourist destination?”

This research had conducted in 2012 when the writer was in university.

Destination’s location


Japan is located in Far East and consists of small and relatively large islands. Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku are the four largest islands. The closest three countries to Japan are Korea, Russia, and China. Northernmost islands such as Hokkaido are located on a similar geographical latitude as Portland which is about 45’E, whereas southernmost islands such as Okinawa are located on a similar latitude as the Bahamas which is around 30’E. (More than 50% of the country is mountainous and covered by forests. Japan is politically structured into 8 regions and 47 prefectures).  (japan-guide.com n.d).

Number of annual arrivals

According to a graph from Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), the number of international visitors in 2010 was 8,611,175, whereas caused by the large earth quake, which occurred on March 11th, the number of international visitors in 2011 was 6,219,300. For the ranking of international visitors in 2010, Korea accounted for approximately 26% of whole international visitors. Then, China, Britain, Taiwan, France and German followed. For the trend of seasonal arrivals summer seasons, especially July and August are popular for Asian tourists such as Korea, China and Taiwan. On the other hand, March and April are popular season for western visitors such as Britain, France and Germany.

Principal tourist attractions

           International tourists’ destinations in Japan concentrate on large cities, especially on Tokyo. “Seven of the 10 most-visited destinations in the country are in the capital” or Tokyo (Chana, 2008). In addition to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto are also popular destinations.

It is the Sinjuku in Tokyo that the most attractive destination for foreigners in Japan. Its commuter rail stations carry about 2 million passengers a day. Sinjuku has three significant components: offices, shopping and nightlife. For shopping there are many chic departments. At night, many tourists head to bars to have a drink and to take wide-city views (Chana, 2008 para 5, 6, 7). Kyoto is a unique destination for international tourists. Apart from a busy capital, we can see many cultural and historical places unlike Tokyo. Since Kyoto was a former capital, it is known as one of the most tasteful place such as old-fashioned temples. Osaka has also attractions such as Osaka Castle, which is rich in its history. Since Osaka and Kyoto is located on next to each other, tourists can enjoy two main destinations with about an hour by train. In fact, two major destinations’ accessibility between Kyoto and Osaka is hallmark of visitors to Japan (Chana, 2008 para 10, 11).

Influences on destination


          In winter season, because of the location of latitude, Tohoku has harsh climate, especially Sea of Japan side and has heavy snow. According to the graph from Tohoku Japan Endless Discovery, the temperature in the Tohoku area is, on average, between 10℃ to -5℃. Thus, Tohoku area provides tourists with many snow attractions suitable for winter such as skiing, “snowmobile banana rides”(Japan National Tourism Organization, winter highlight,) and hot spring.

The climate in Autumn is relatively comfortable to visit because temperature does not rise so high. There are also many activities in autumn.  For example, Sikoku, the smallest island which is located on western part of Japan is renowned for “its unique 88-temple pilgrimage”(Japan National Tourism Organization, Path of the Pilgrims). Autumn is also renowned for hiking season as well as color leaves.

Spring is, as in autumn, also relatively stable season and good time to visit. Thus, spring is the peak tourism season. Temperature in spring is between 10℃ to 15℃. The most renowned attraction during spring is cherry blossom viewing. It depends upon the year when the cherry begin to bloom and the season for cherry-blossom viewing lasts about one week. Yet, because of the differences in temperature between the west to the east of Japan, tourists have several chances to view cherry blossom. For example, according to cherry blooming forecast in 2011 from Japan Weather Association, In Fukuoka which is located in west, cherry blossom can be enjoyed from March 22. In Aomori which is located in north east, it can be enjoyed from April 25.


Since Japan’s topography is dominated by mountains and volcanoes, natural elements provide Japan with many activities and attractions for both domestic tourists and international tourists. For example, there are many hot springs called “onsen” because of the volcanic activities. Hot springs are distinguished by differences in its effects on our body. Effects are brought by the minerals dissolved in hot water. Also, covered by more than 75% of island, Japan has many national parks as well as mountains. Such nature attracts tourists. For example, mountains produce attractions for skiing and hiking.

Political conditions

Japan is, according to Asia Travel Tips.com, one of the safest countries. The actual crime rate is very low and usually such crimes do not concern foreign travelers. In addition, inoculations are not required to enter from any other countries. For water, although bottled water is readily available, tap water is also available anywhere in Japan. Currency is one of the most important parts when we travel to other countries. Currently, Japanese yen is stronger than some of foreign money. Thus, people would tend to hesitate to pay with cash in Japan. Yet, in most of stores in Japan, credit cards can be used to buy, so international tourists can pay money lower than pay with cash.


(2011)The number of visitor from foreign countries. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from


Japan guide. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.japan-guide.com/list/e1000.htmlChana R .(July 30, 2008). Japan’s most popular tourist attractions. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25641128/ns/travel-destination_travel/t/japans-most-popular-tourist-attractions/#.Ty76hHrAa6UClimate japan. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.mapsofworld.com/japan/climate-japan.html(n.d.).http://www.tohokukanko.jp/english/guide/tohoku.html


Japan Safety Considerations. Retrieved February 18, 2012, from


Geographical examples of the Japan’s tourist places

The map below shows railway and subway lines of Kyoto. Along the tourist sites, many railway and subway lines are crisscrossed on Kyoto city. It seems that these railway and subway lines are made to yield profit from tourists who are interested in tourist sites.

This map is the course for Juniko, one of the attractions in Shirakami Mountain. Since this course is for hiking, there are some buildings to have breaks for tourists.

This picture is the region around Shirakami Mountain. Since Shirakami Mountain is located on higher latitude, we have heavy snow fall during winter season. Thus, not only for hiking, but also facilities for skiing are also well-developed

The map shown below is for hotels and railway and subway lines in Kyoto. These transportation lines are connected to hotels. It seems that hotels are built along the railway and subway lines.

This picture is To-ji temple and the buildings surround it. As it is known, Kyoto city has so many cultural heritages that to protect cultural views, only relatively lower buildings can be constructed, which is stipulated by Kyoto’s municipal regulation. The Kyoto’s regulation contributes sense of place.

This picture is Nara city which has many cultural tourist sites. Nara city is, as in Kyoto city, protected its view by Nara city’s regulation. Thus, relatively lower buildings can be constructed around this area for sense of place.

The picture below is the map of the railway lines in Nara. It is also made along the tourist sites and connected to Kyoto. In terms of the tourist destination, this formation would be for produce profit from tourists of Nara and tourists from Kyoto.

The building middle of this picture is called Suzaku-mon in Nara city. This area in the picture used to be a former capital and attracts many tourists. In terms of the view, it is not appropriate that there are many factories by the historical sites. So these factories are going to be transferred to another place.

The picture below is the map of railways. We can see the Itami Airport center on this picture. From Itami Airport, Nara and Kyoto is connected with railways. That would be strategy to promote accessibility and profit.

The picture below indicates the location of hot spring around Shirakami Mountain and several mountains around Shirakami Mountain. Since Shirakami Mountain includes other mountains around it and region around Shirakami Mountain provides many hot springs, this region had developed as a tourist area.


Japan guide. (30 N). Retrieved February 16, 2012 from http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2363.html

Visit Japan and Discover. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2012 from http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=ja&rlz=1C1RNAN_enUS460US460&biw=1366&bih=619&tbm=isch&tbnid=4zTa3y5L17HBEM:&imgrefurl=http://www.hankyu-travel.com/english/member/0701.html&docid=KbQu0IzW-

Retrieved February 16, 2012 from Japanese web site


Sacred destinations. (2010). Retrieved from


(n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2012 from http://www.dba.co.jp/photo/2008/12/post-60.html

(n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2012 from http://mainichi.jp/kansai/news/20120221ddf041010030000c.html

(n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2012 from Japanese web site, http://www.akita-train.jp/onsen/


Major origin market

According to JNTO, the ranking of the number of international arrivals in 2011 is Korea, China, Britain, Taiwan, France and Germany. Especially, the number of the tourists from Korea, China and Taiwan account for about 60% of whole tourists.


The number of the visitors from Korea is the most dominant market and occupies about 26% of whole international arrivals to Japan. The main reason why many visitors come to Japan is, obviously because of its location. Since Japan and Korea are close each other, it takes only about two and half hours between Narita air port and Inchon air port. China provides Japan with the second largest tourists. In addition, Korea has close tie with Japan in the culture. For example, both Korean people and Japanese people have originally nature worship within their minds. In modern society of Korea and Japan they have also close tie: Japanese pop musicians as well as Korean pop musicians are popular in both countries these interaction would contribute to Japan’s image from Korean visitors. Not only cultural ties and location of Korea but also Japan conducted a policy to attract tourists, called “Visit Japan Project” had been conducted in 2003. According to Japan Tourism Agency, “Visit Japan Project” includes waiver of tourist visa requirements since 2006, inviting overseas media to improve images of Japan etc. According to JNTO, the number of the visitors from Korea in 2003 is about 1460,000. In 2008, before the big recession, the number of the visitors from Korea is about 2380,000


As is Korea, China is also close to Japan. Although China is located in slightly far from Japan compared with Korea, it takes about three hours between Narita air port and Shanghai air port. Cultural exchanges between Japan and China prosperous. There are many communities for Chinese people and Japanese people once we search on the web. Such web sites are created by Japan Foundation to promote interaction between Japan and China. In terms of the policy, Japan is targeting China as one of tourism markets. In Visit Japan Project, China is also included for a target market. There are some advantages in visa issuance, for example: waiver of visa requirements for students on school trip (since 2004), family tourist visas (since 2008) as well as tour group visas (since 2005) are currently being issued. According to JNTO, promoted by deregulation of visa, more and more people visit to study. Compared with other countries, the number visitors who come to Japan for studying is considerably higher than other countries. For example, in 2010, 352,000 people came from China to study. The number of visitors from Korea to study is 140,000. Because of the policy, the number of visitors from China also increased about 450,000 from 2003 to about 1 million by 2008.


America, the third largest country in the number of visitors to Japan is far from Japan compared with Korea and China. Although it depends upon air ports, it takes 10 hours to 13 hours. For trend of the visitors from America, more than 60% of American visit Japan for sightseeing. This trend can be described by American’s cultural interest to Japan. According to Peter Duus, a professor of Stanford University, Americans are interested in pop culture. For example, animation, manga and Japanese indigenous sports such as Judo and Karate are renowned among American people. In addition, Japanese animations and manga are so popular in America that many Japanese many animations and manga are available in English. Influenced by the Japanese animations, Japanese fashion called cosplay also attracts people. These popular cultures seem to promote tourists from America. As for Japanese cuisines, there are many Japanese restaurants and bars in America. For language, English signage and English announcements are available we foreign visitors use public transportations. These things might contribute to positive image of Japan and support visitors from America.

Emerging markets

Although there are several countries as emerging markets for Japan, India and Singapore appear to be the most significant. Japan is now targeting these two developing countries.


Firstly, India which is flourishing faster could be one of the major tourism markets for Japan. Although, in terms of the international arrivals, India is the fourteenth largest country, India is added as a target market in 2010 for Visit Japan Project. Japan seems to consider India as a new market for its rapid growth in economy and population.


For Singapore, visitors from Singapore to Japan rapidly increased from 2003 to 2010. Visitors from Singapore had risen up from 77,000 to 180,000, according to JNTO. In addition, Yasumasa Shimizu, director, Singapore Office, JNTO, said “we will also be tying up with Singapore Airlines for promotion in the India market. A lot of Indians travel to Singapore and can then connect onwards to Japan”(Vinayak, G, EXPRESS Travel World, March 2011). Thus, connecting with Indian visitors, Japan is trying to promote visitors from Singapore.


Inbound Travel Promotion Project (Visit Japan Project)

November 10,2010. Retrieved February 20, 2012, fromhttp://www.mlit.go.jp/kankocho/en/shisaku/kokusai/vjc.html

The number of visitor to Japan in 2010. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from Japanese web site http://www.jnto.go.jp/jpn/downloads/2010_tourists.pdf

 “Arts and Cultural Exchange.” . N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved February 20, 2012, fromhttp://www.jpf.go.jp/e/culture/chinacenter.html.

“the growth of the number of visitor to japan after “visit japan project”.” . N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from  http://www.jnto.go.jp/jpn/downloads/vjc2003_2010.pdf.

GAYATRI VINAYAK, . “Japan targets 1,00,000 Indian visitors for 2011.” . N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from http://www.expresstravelworld.com/201103/market25.shtml.


Principal cultural and natural sites and events

Compared with the number of visitors to each destination, the ranking of the principal sites was following order: cultural sites in Kyoto, cultural sites in Nara and Shirakami Mountain. The purpose of comparing is to identify the principal cultural and natural sites and events in Japan,

For Kyoto prefecture it is renowned for its many cultural and historical buildings and places: for example, Kinkaku-ji temple, Gion district and Kiyomizu-dera temple. Kinkaku-ji temple, which is covered with a sheet of gold-leaf is the most famous site for foreigners, according to a result of visitor survey done by the City of Kyoto in 2007.

Nara prefecture is also renowned for its cultural and historical attractions. The main attraction is Nara Park. There are some buildings inside the park such as Todai-ji temple, Kasuga Shrine and the Nara National Museum. Todai-ji temple is renowned for the largest wooden structure throughout the world as well as the Gteat Buddha inside of Todai-ji temple which is about 15 meter-bronze statue (IgoUgo, Schiner, July 2004).

Shirakami Mountain, one of the most renowned natural sites, spread across Aomori prefecture and Akita Prefecture. Shirakami Mountain is virgin and cool-temperate forest and is rich in natural resources: 87 species of birds and more than 500 plants species have been identified in this area. Although 500 species are not high figure compared to other mountains, there are many Japanese characteristic plant species in Shirakami Mountain (UNESCO, Shirakami-Sanchi para 1, 2).

Tourism facilities and services


           Since Kyoto attracts many both domestic tourists and foreign tourists, infrastructures in Kyoto are well-developed. Bus lines cover most of Kyoto city, so visitors can easily access to tourist spot by bus though transfer and connection is slightly complicated. To make trip effectively “City Bus One-day Pass” can be available for visitors which covers major tourist spots. In addition, Kyoto city is also widely covered with train lines. Since railways connect other major tourist destinations, for example, Nara and Osaka, tourists can get there in about 30 minutes from Kyoto station, the center of transportation. For foreigners while foreign visitors are either in the bus or train, they announce in English. After tourists go out of Kyoto station, tourist bureau is by the station too(Kyoto City Tourism Association).

For hotels in Kyoto, to find how many percents of people are satisfied the quality of hotels in Kyoto, I calculated the average point. The visitors who said average, very good and excellent accounted for more than 90%.  One of the negative opinions is “Great Location but – small, and not so clean room”( Virtual Tourist, September 2007, MayJune67). One of the positive opinions is “Great location, great staff”(Virtual Tourist, May 2011, nicbarr).

Former opinion seems to indicate reality of hotels in Kyoto. In fact, some of the hotels are sometimes not well-cleaned. Latter opinion seems to reflect the great accessibility to attractions in Kyoto.


There are two railways, Kintetsu railways and JR West in Nara. A few steps can bring tourists to Nara Park and Kofuku-ji temple. From JR West we need about 15-minute walk to them, yet there are so many tourist sites are concentrated on Nara Park that many attractions can be visited on foot. For the bus, as in Kyoto, since the bus lines connect two railways with all sites, buses are also useful.

Calculating the average point with the same way as Kyoto, the quality of hotels in Nara was as follow: the visitors who said average, very good and excellent accounted for more than 93%. Some of the negative opinions are “Very nice, but the room was rather small, even for Japan” (Virtual Tourist, December 2011 Morgan,) and “Wish they had someone who spoke basic English…other than that FINE!!” ( Virtual Tourist, October 2008, Shmuel76). As for former opinion, dissatisfaction seems to come from differences of culture. Latter opinion is due to the lack of English skills. In either case, both points should be improved as a tourist site for foreigners. On the other hand, the reason for positive evaluation is “A well-run traditional ryokan in a spectacular location”(Virtual Tourist, October 2009, Darlox). Visitors seem to evaluate Japanese indigenous atmosphere and accessibility.

Shirakami Mountain

           Since Shirakami Mountain is not one place to visit, in terms of the accessibility, the location is slightly inconvenient for tourists. The best access way to Shirakami Mountain is, according to japan guide.com, “From the north from Hirosaki in Aomori Prefecture, and from the south from Noshiro in Akita Prefecture, about a one hour train ride north of Akita City” or “Through Odate-Noshiro Airport, which has daily flights from Tokyo‘s Haneda and Osaka‘s Itami Airports”. The bus access to Shirakami Mountain is also limited: the only bus line to Shirakami Mountain is from Hirosaki to Anmon Falls which run only three times in a day. It takes about 40 minutes. A rental car is recommended as a mean of getting around Shirakami Mountain. Although in terms of accessibility, it is slightly inconvenient, many facilities provided for visitors such as camp sites (japan-guide.com).

Calculating in a same way as Kyoto and Nara, the hotels and accommodation around Shirakami Mountain are as follow. According to tripadvisor, since no foreigner comments were found, Japanese visitors’ opinion is used to identify the quolity: most of the positive opinions are that great view from the hotel. One of the negative opinions was cleanliness of the washbowl. Former opinion seems to indicate that the hotel is used effectively for mountainous location. Latter opinion seems to show reality of the hotel.


“Places of Interest in Kyoto(Top 15 most visited places in Kyoto by visitors from overseas)”(n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2012 from http://kyoto.asanoxn.com/places/ps_popularity.htm

Nara journals [Web log message]. Retrieved February 20, 2012 from http://www.igougo.com/journal-j35101-Nara-Main_Attractions_in_Nara_Japan.html

“Shirakami-Sanchi”(n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2012 from http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/663

kyoto magonote”(n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2012 from http://www.kyoto-magonote.jp/en/transport/

“Nara Hotels”(n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2012 from http://www.virtualtourist.com/hotels/Asia/Japan/Nara_ken/Nara-972494/Hotels_and_Accommodations-Nara-TG-C-1.html

Kyoto travel guide. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2012 from http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Asia/Japan/Kyoto_fu/Kyoto-973793/TravelGuide-Kyoto.html

tripadvisor.(n.d.).Retrieved February 20, 2012 from http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g1120398-d300876-r116137584-


Load factors

The graph below shows the one-year passenger load factor (PLF) from May 2009 to May 20010 and is from Japan Airlines (JAL). Compared with international PLF and domestic PLF, although there is the difference in the figure of PLF, the seasonal trends coincide each other.

Seasonal trend analysis

During summer season or from July to the beginning of September, the figure of the PLF rapidly increases. Since most people in Japan have long summer vacation during this period, usually domestic tourist go back to their home towns and gather relatives or have some vacation trip to tourist sites. For international PLF Japanese tourists tend to have long trips, taking advantage of long summer vacation.

During autumn season to the beginning January, the figure of PLF tends to decrease both in domestic number and international number. In the beginning of January, one of the lowest PLF figure, Japanese people traditionally spend time with their relatives and celebrate New Year’s Day. Thus, Japanese people tend to less have trips. However, some of the tourists spend winter vacation in other countries to escape from cold temperature such as Hawaii, as the slight rise in the figure of international PLF from December.

From January to March both the figure of international and domestic PLF began to rise again. For the domestic PLF since Japan has snow in winter, people would use airlines, seeking winter attractions such as skiing. The figure of international PLF also increases in this period. One of the reasons would be to escape from cold season and to spend warm vacation.

Finally, the a small rise of the figure of PLF in May would be related to Golden Week Holidays in Japan, which last less than one week from end of April. Since Golden Week Holidays are not so long enough that the figure of international would be slightly lower than the figure of domestic PLF.

JAL Group international PLF and domestic PLF: May-2009 to May-2010


Hotel occupancy rate


figure 3

figure 4

Figure2, 3, 4 show the Japan Average Hotel Occupancy Rate as of August, December, March 2010(Asterisk Reality Tokyo, 2011). The number of right hands show the last year’s Hotel Occupancy Rate. Compared the figure 2, 3 and 4 with figure 1 in terms of the season, the figure of PLF and Hotel Occupancy Rate highly correlate each other. For example, December is lower in its figure, and March and August are higher in its figure. There are some

As for the comparison within Hotel Occupancy Rate, there are some trends. The seasonal gap is lower in the large, urbanized cities such as in Tokyo, Osaka and Urayasu rather than Kyoto. Tokyo is, needless to say, renowned for its many attractions. Osaka has also many shopping malls as well as n parks. For Urayasu which is in Chiba Prefecture, Tokyo Disneyland is popular for tourists. On the other hand, Kyoto and Hiroshima that are renowned for their historical and cultural sites are higher seasonal gaps. For example, Kyoto has many renowned temples such as Kinkaku-ji temple. For Hiroshima one of the most famous attractions is Genbaku Dome, a building demolished by a nuclear bomb. Therefore, attractions in urbanized regions such as shopping malls and theme parks would more attract constant attentions from the tourists rather than cultural sites.


As the graphs indicate, Urayasu boasts the highest Hotel Occupancy Rate in Japan. One reason would be the distance between Tokyo and Uraysasu. Since Urayasu adjoins Tokyo, and its developed public transportation, tourists can move easily. Second reason would be the many hot springs in Chiba prefecture. Chiba has nearly 90 hot springs which satisfy tourists both physically and mentally. Third reason is that the hotel’s high level satisfaction. According to tripadviser, approximately 65% of the guests answered the quality is excellent. The choices were excellent, very good, average, poor, and terrible. These factors support the high Hotel Occupation Rate of Chiba.

Tourist flows

“When foreigners go to Japan, Tokyo is the most popular destination. After tourists leave Tokyo, they tend to visit Osaka and Kyoto(Chana, 2008,  msnbc.com). As I said in Semester Project 1, Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto are also most popular destinations.

Since many modern attractions concentrate on Tokyo, for example, shopping mecca, offices, and nightlife, tourists need to less leave Tokyo. In addition, developed bus lines and subway lines enable tourists to move smoothly. An international airport also contributes its popularity as a hub of the destination. Osaka has also modern attractions such as an aquarium, a large hot spring and theme parks and developed public transportation including Kansai National Airport. In contrast to Tokyo and Osaka, Kyoto does not have modern attractions such as theme parks. However, Kyoto is renowned for its historical and cultural buildings unlike Osaka and Tokyo. Still, modern attractions as well as historical attractions appear to produce tourists. These three most popular destinations have well-developed transportation system, and it connects these three prefectures. Thus, transportation systems enable tourists to move effectively. Especially tourists can move in about 30 minutes between Osaka and Kyoto.


(July, 2010) Japan Airlines has a positive May, but much work to do. Retrieved March 5, 2012


(February, 2011) Japan Hotel Occ. Rate – December. 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2012


(Octorber, 2011) Japan Hotel Occ. Rate –August. 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2012


(May, 2010) Japan Hotel Occ. Rate –March. 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2012


Chana R. (July, 2008). Japan’s most popular tourist attractions. Retrieved March 7, 2012


Influence of the friction of distance

Time difference

Seeing a list published by JNTO which shows the origin markets for Japan, Asian countries such as Korea, China and Taiwan occupy the top of origin markets. For China and Taiwan the time difference from Japan is one hour. For Korea there is no time difference from Japan. On the other hand, the number of the visitors from European countries such as Britain is considerably smaller than the number of visitors from Asian countries. Thus, it can be said that there is so great time difference between European countries and Japan that fewer tourists visit Japan. In terms of the time difference between destination and origin market, the time difference obviously have negative effect on the number of tourist to Japan. In addition,


the and the number of visitors indicate high correlation. Fewer tourists from European countries and American countries visit Japan than Asian countries. In addition, seeing the purpose of the visitors from European countries, about 26% of the visitors come to Japan for their business, whereas about 13% of the visitors come to Japan for their business. The distance from the destination would not be a large wall when it comes to their business.

Freight charge for goods

According to JP (Japan Past), the rate of international mail rise as the distance from Japan to the countries broader. For example, the cost to Asian countries is 900 yen by Express Mail Service up to 300g. The cost to Oceania, North America, Central America and the Middle East is 1,200 yen, to Europe is 1,500 yen and to South America and Africa is 1,700 yen(“Rate schedule(ems:all zones),” ).

Comparison of distance with tourism

           Compared these cost of the freight charge with the number of the visitors from foreign countries, the result would show correlation. In fact, Asian countries are greatly affected by friction of distance: the number of foreign visitors to Japan is occupied by Asian countries. Thus, seemingly, the higher the cost of freight charges, the lower the number of visitor to Japan. However, in spite of the friction of distance, the number of the visitors from Singapore and Britain is almost the same, according to JNTO. Moreover, tourists from some Southeast Asian countries such as Philippines and Malaysia even are smaller than European countries. Some of the reasons would be the wealth of countries. So friction of distance does not always affect to the flow tourism(“Japanese web site,” ).


Current prospect from the perspective of Ullman’s theory of spatial interaction


Seeing the growth of export from Japan to foreign countries, in 1990, the rank was America, Germany and Korea according to Trade Statics of Japan. However, until 2011, because of the economic recession and rapid growth of less developed countries, China replaced as a major export country. In addition, top 10 of 7 Asian countries occupy export of Japan in 2011, whereas top 10 of 5 Asian countries occupied in 1990. As Japan adopted “Visit Japan Project” to Asian countries along the growth of Asian countries, Japan could attract more and more foreign people


Asian countries still would be more suitable to retain interaction with Japan than European and American countries. The reason is simple. Taking freight charge into account, the challenge of both money and time is unavoidable to carry goods between Japan and Asian countries although the time to be carried has been lowered. Yet, since China is also growing rapidly as Japanese market and people produce goods in lower price, the connection of China would be more tightened (“Japanese web site,” ).

Agglomeration in Kyoto

An example of unplanned agglomeration is Kyoto. As it is renowned, Kyoto is originally rich in cultural resources such as Kiyomizu-dera temple, To-ji temple and Kinkaku-ji temple. Thus, to attract tourists from other regions in Japan as well as foreign countries, agglomeration can be seen in Kyoto. For example, hotels and large shopping malls concentrate around Kyoto Station that leads cultural sites in Kyoto from neighbor prefectures. Thus, for domestic tourists, Kyoto Station functions as both staging area and gate way. For international tourists Kansai National Airport which is connected with railway lines appears to function as gate way, whereas Kyoto Station appears to function as staging area.

As for the example of agglomeration, an old style area, called Gion district which has been lasting several hundred years ago attracts many tourists. In Gion district there are only old-fashioned style typical buildings. Thus, Gion district has indigenous identity of brand.


Rate scheduleemsall zones international mail. (n.d.). Retrieved February 29, 2012 from http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/charge/list/ems_all_en.html

Japanese web site kid’s news. (n.d.). Retrieved February 29, 2012 from http://www.jftc.or.jp/kids/kids_news/japan/country.html

“World heritage map” (n.d.). Retrieved February 29, 2012 from http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/visitkyoto/en/theme/sites/shrines/w_heritage/

Christaller’s Central Place Theory

               People who spend less than a month in the city are considered as tourists. They are divided into three groups: tourists that spend less than a month are colored red, locals are colored blue while those who do not belong neither tourists nor local are designated yellow. Seeing concentration of three colors of people in this map, trends can be found. The cluster of red, or tourists is surrounded by yellow and the cluster of yellow is also surrounded by blue, or local. The differences of cluster of these three colors imply the differences of the demand of three groups.

Compared Tokyo (figure 1) with the map of Paris (figure 2), Tokyo has different trend of clustering unlike Paris, whereas Paris’s clustering of people forms almost exactly the hexagon. This difference rises from the Tokyo’s lack of a defined city. Thus, Tokyo has peculiar formation of clustering; each region functions as a city. For example, as for the high order service, there are many universities in Tokyo.

Application of theory

As for the location of business, Akihabara in Tokyo is known as center of Japan’s otaku (diehard fan) culture. In Akihabara there are many shops and establishments devoted to anime and manga. There are not only agglomerations of same types of business, but also there are combined businesses; coffee houses are put together with Japanese anime, called Maid café. Maid cafes are cosplay themed restaurants where customers are served by waitresses that are dressed like a French maid (japan-guide,com).

Figure 1

Figure 2

           The map below (figure 3) is Shinluku-ku, one of the wards in Tokyo. Shinjuku meets conditions that show up in the Location Theory. For example, there is a university in the left-hand of Shinjuku Station, as a symbol of high order service. Looking at the area around the university, in fact, some lower services or availability of amenities can be found such as department stores. Labor availability appears to be sufficient since the yellow and blue surround big city in each area. Blue indicates local people and that spread large area, so local labor power is sufficient. Also, those who assigned to yellow can be considered as labor force because they should be people who work away from their homes. It is proper to regard people who spend at a certain place for more than one month, but also not local people as labor force.


LaNiall, F. (2010, june 11). The incredible maps that can help you escape the tourists in the world’s best cities read more: retrieved Retrieved March1, 2012 fromhttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1285790/maps-photographed-areas-worlds-cities.html

Akihabara japa-guide.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3003.html

Shinjuku tokyo japan tourist map. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2012 from http://mappery.com/map-of/Shinjuku-Tokyo-Japan-Tourist-Map