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‘Ambitious Japan’, as it calls itself in English on
the new Shinkansen 700 trains, today appears as an insular, industrial society
stranded in a globalised postindustrial world, trying to retain (mainly
imagined) pre-industrial values. Whereas many societies are in a process of
changing from "World as a theater" to
"World as a workshop", the japanese society sticks
to bolted-on masks.
‘Inventing Japan’ (Buruma 2003) after
1853 meant the double and contradictory task of ’restoring’ the rule of the
Emperor, the Shinto religion and ‘national’ pride through
attempts of catching up with 'modernity' to become a leading member of modern nations.
Three major attempts to achieve
this failed in 1921, 1945 and 1990.
In the development of Japanese domestic tourism this
is reflected in the successful decade-long marketing campaigns of
“Discover Japan” in the 1970s and “Exotic Japan” in the 1980s.
‘Discover’, starting after the EXPO in Osaka, appealed to young (mainly female) Japanese not to
visit meishos (noted places) but rather to find the spirit of the ‘old’
Japan in encounters with it and therefore to find themselves.
“Although this Japan was billed as native and
original, it was a Japan in many ways unknown to its young urban travellers. ..
Japan beckoned as something strangely familiar: the native remote.” (Ivy 1995,
‘Exotic’ took the nostalgic longing one step further:
Stylish and arty in appearance, it enticed to travel within Japan not to rediscover
‘old’ Japan, but the nostalgia for it, the lost feeling of the feeling
Furusato (old hometown) tourism
is another important part of domestic tourism of
inventing the nation and "reconstructing selected
images of the Japanese people’s traditional way of life." (Moon 1997, 185)
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