Once one leaves overcrowded big-city Japan and heads out to the more rural regions of the archipelago, the breathtaking natural charm and sereneness of old Japan quickly become evident. But also what comes into focus is that the relic buildings and houses from bygone years are becoming increasingly rundown due to erosion, corrosion, neglect and relative poverty in those regions.
Many of these rundown areas were involved in the timber industry, and when cheap foreign lumber began to flood the Japanese islands in the 1980s, young people – tired of farming and eking out a living – swarmed to the greener economic pastures of urban centers.
A group of residents in one such neglected region with many traditional thatched homes, Katsuyama in Fukui Prefecture, has begun a concerted effort to restore or repair abandoned homes and buildings. They are doing this by sponsoring eco-tours. The first one attracted 25 participants.
Optimally, win-win situations in business are what we should all strive for. These eco-tours in Fukuyama are only the tip of an economic iceberg.
In fact, there are more than 10,000 such settlements scattered throughout the islands’ of Japan. For domestic and overseas’eco-conscious tourists wanting hands-on experience in restoring such buildings and homes, this will be a great chance to experience rural Japan and make a significant difference.
The ecological visitors can infuse much-needed cash into these intrinsically exquisite villages and at the same time can offer overseas tour operators a chance to make handsome profits.
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