It has been 4 months since western Japan was hit by an extreme rainstorm which brought widespread flooding and landslides, causing over 200 fatalities, loss of homes and, for some time, the disruption of water supplies and transportation.
Images of the disaster and its aftermath were broadcast on TV and across social media channels both within Japan and around the world. The region’s tourism economy was hit by thousands of hotel reservations from home and abroad. Although the region’s main tourist destinations suffered some disruption of transportation and fresh food supplies, areas such as Hiroshima’s Peace Center, Miyajima and Kurashiki’s historical district were not adversely affected by the disaster. They did, however, suffer from a large drop in the number of visitors. One month after the rains, The Japan Times reported that the number of visitors to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Museum between July 7 and July 31 dropped from 66,000 in 2017 to just over 10,000 after the disaster.
The Ministry of Land and Tourism led “Genki-na Chugoku Tourism” tour is part of an ongoing effort to spread the word that, for the most part, the many tourist spots around the Chugoku region that is comprised of Hiroshima, Okayama, Tottori, Shimane and Yamaguchi Prefecture, are fully recovered and ready to welcome visitors.
GetHiroshima was invited to take part as one of several micro-influencers who were dispatched to three parts of the region; the coastal Setouchi area, the central mountainous area that stretches from northern Hiroshima Prefecture into Shimane Prefecture and the Sanin region that runs along the Japan Sea coast of Tottori and Shimane Prefectures.
As cofounder of GetHiroshima, I was assigned to the Setouchi route alongside 16 year old Chihiro Ishida and 20 year old Minami Ishida (no relation), one twenty-fourth of local idol brigade STU48 (the STU stands for ‘Setouchi’).
Our brief was to social media our experiences on a 3-day whirlwind tour, before rejoining the other groups In Kurashiki for a public symposium. Interested to see and, to be honest, somewhat worried about, how the social media skills of a 50 year old gaijin would match up to those of two fresh-faced and bubbly idols (I definitely need to work on my selfie game!), I put on my brightest and bubbliest shirt and headed for Hiroshima Station on a sunny autumn morning.
Click through to see where we ended up
You can view all the Instagrams posted by the micro-influencers who took part in the “Genki-na Chugoku Tourism” tour here.