JTA to Award up to 5,000,000 Japanese Yen for
New Campaign Slogan

The Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) is replacing its current campaign slogan, "Yokoso! Japan" with a new, English language slogan. The agency, a division of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), is now calling on the public to submit suggestions for the new slogan, for which up to five million Japanese yen (approximately $57,000 CAD) will be awarded.

The current Japanese slogan, which has been in use since 2003, means, "Welcome! Japan" and will be updated to reflect the Japanese government's latest strategy of promoting Japan in foreign markets. The JTA has launched the new campaign in order to reach its recently increased targets: fifteen million foreign visitors in 2013, twenty million in 2016, and twenty-five million in 2019. In 2009, more than 6.7 million people visited Japan, of whom approximately 150,000 were Canadians.

A Special Committee consisting of upper management from MLIT and the JTA, media experts, and other nominated members will evaluate the submissions. The individual or company whose catch phrase is selected will enter into a contract with the MLIT under the Japanese Government's procurement rules and the winner will be paid up to five million Japanese yen. Once the new slogan is selected, the JTA is also expected to request submissions from the public for a new logo design.

Applicants must submit their proposed slogans according to the rules of the campaign. For more information on how to apply, visit the following link: www.jnto.go.jp/jta/#pdf. Further, although the application must be submitted in Japanese, the JTA is happy to provide linguistic support to potential applicants who are not proficient in Japanese. For linguistic assistance, please send an email (in English) to the following address: g_KKC_KKR@mlit.go.jp. Good luck!

Blooming Beauty: The 2010 Japan Grand Prix International Orchid Festival

The Japan Grand Prix International Orchid Festival, a stunning extravaganza of exotic blooms, will be held at the Tokyo Dome from Friday, February 12, 2010 to Sunday, February 21, 2010. The exhibition's theme, "Cordial Hospitality—Saying it with Orchids" will be celebrated with international works such as the Orchid Avenue, displays by an ambassador and the wives of ambassadors to Japan, a selection of new and unusual orchids, and an orchid message. In addition, attendees can also participate in an array of stage events, talk show and ikebana demonstrations, guided tours of the dome, and a dendrobium-growing contest. With 12,250,000 yen in prize money to be awarded, 19 countries and regions participating, no less than 3,000 varieties of orchids and approximately 100,000 plants in total, this colourful annual event is a must-see.


A Canadian with a Love for Kochi - by Rachael Dempsey

Kochi Prefecture's Hidden Charm: the People

Kochi Prefecture, on Shikoku Island, is not a typical destination for international tourists. I often give the Canadian analogy of Newfoundland: an isolated island, a delightful dialect, amazing seafood, a beautiful landscape, and, most importantly, a people who are proud of their unique history, traditions and way of life.

In spite of its obscurity, there is a lot to say about Kochi as a tourist destination. Japanese tourists have long known this, and many a Tokyoite visit in search of ocean adventures, be it surfing, whale watching, diving, or snorkelling. Others come for the island's famous 88 Temple Pilgrimage. History buffs enjoy the Sakamoto Ryoma statue and museum; Ryoma was an important leader during the Meiji Restoration who came from the kingdom of Tosa (present-day Kochi). Those keener on modern culture can visit the Anpanman Museum in Kahoku-cho, the hometown of Yanase Takashi, the creator of the beloved anime series featuring cute characters based on kinds of bread. No matter what aspect one chooses to enjoy in Shikoku, after a hard day's work touring, two not-to-miss activities are bathing in the island's many local onsens, and tasting the local cuisine—sure to be a transformative culinary experience. I still dream of local delicacies like katsuo-tataki (seared bonito sashimi), yuzu juice, made with a popular citrus fruit, and yama-momo, literally "mountain peach," which is a kind of wonderful, giant raspberry that is so local even many Japanese have never heard of it. While the food, the fun, the cultural experiences, and the natural beauty were all important parts of my experiences in Kochi, none of these are the reason I extended my stay from one to three years. It was—without question—the people who made me stay.

It was actually in searching out my first meal in Kochi that I met my first friends. Not recognizing much of the food in the grocery store, I decided I would eat at restaurants the first few days. The only problem was that every business looked the same—the first floor of a residential home with the family living above on the second floor. The sign outside (which I could not read) indicated what kind of a business it was. Armed with my limited knowledge of Japanese, I began knocking on doors and stating, "I want food"…in cell phone stores, in furniture stops, even in people's living rooms.

I finally found a restaurant, one of the only ones in town with a fragment of English on the sign: the A1 Café. The place was deserted but for me, a lone, tired, hungry, Canadian customer. As I sat there I wondered how I would make it through the week, let alone the year; I had not anticipated that the most basic of tasks would be so difficult. I could not have imagined that I was sitting in what would become my second home for the next three years.

The A1 Café owners, a middle-aged couple, struck up a conversation with me immediately. Difficult though it was with my rudimentary Japanese and their hesitant English, I conveyed where I was from and what I was doing there, and over the course of that initial first dinner, they invited me to give weekly English classes for adults at their café in exchange for dinner. After dinner, they walked me around town and introduced me to my new students, other members of the community, who were all very excited to meet me and enthusiastic to learn more about English and Canada. I was incredibly relieved to have made some friends, and touched by their warmth and openness.

Rachael & her friends
So began a three-year weekly tradition of getting together to talk, laugh, and exchange ideas, memories, perspectives and languages across cultures and generations (most of my students were in their mid-fifties). There are no words to express how this community of individuals changed my life. They included me in all sorts of activities, from camping, barbeques and festivals, to tea ceremony lessons and sports. They introduced me to their friends and family and welcomed me into their homes. They helped me all the time, whether I needed help understanding how to turn on my air conditioner, making a phone call, understanding the infinite complexities of the garbage disposal system in Japan, buying bug spray for the enormous flying water beetles I encountered in my home, or learning how to prepare basic Japanese
Rachael's parents & her students
meals. They also explained cultural differences, supported my study of Japanese, tried to help me through the growing pains of being a new teacher in a new place and, time and time again, showed themselves to be incredibly warm, considerate, and open-minded people. They were the kind of people who make you realize that we are more alike than different, that we need only to open our minds to find that the most valuable of travel experiences may occur when we find ways to bridge the gaps, be they cultural, geographical, or generational, and connect in meaningful ways with those who seem different than us.

For information about Kochi, please visit www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/kochi/

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s-Regular, sans-serif">CONTACT:
Japan National Tourism Organization
481 University Avenue, Suite 306 Toronto, Ontario M5G 2E9
Tel: 416-366-7140
Fax: 416-366-4530
E-mail: info@jntoyyz.com
Website: www.ilovejapan.ca