One week ago today, I gave a talk about my monitor tour at an International Fair in Imabari City. The local media came out and did a story on it. Here’s my amateur slapdash attempt at translating the newspaper article that was published in the morning edition of the Ehime Newspaper last Tuesday. Many thanks go to reporter Fumihito Tawa for coming out and covering the event. I’d also like to proffer my thanks to the photographer who snapped that incredible “A-ha!” finger pointing gesture. The team made me look good! Click on the thumbnail for a larger view.
Caption: Mr. Richardson (right), an American whose theme was using foods like yakitori in a plan for promoting tourism in Imabari City.
Increase the amount of foreign language information on websites to promote short-stay food tourism
Proposed by a sightseeing foreigner
Let’s rediscover Imabari’s tourist attractions from a foreigner’s point of view. The International Fair hosted by the Imabari City International Exchange Association (ICIEA), took place on the 7th at the JA Saisaikiteya farmer’s market, where the townspeople were able to learn about local attractions as well as ideas for drawing foreign tourists to the area.
The ICIEA received a request from the city, and so set out on a project to have 7 foreign residents undertake monitor tours from June of 2009 to February of 2010. The fair was designed to showcase the results of these tours for the people of Imabari CIty.
Deas Richardson (26), an American assistant language teacher, said of food tourism with a focus on Imabari’s famous yakitori, “Of course it is not really a reason unto itself to visit, but it could easily be a reason to stop (here) on the way to another destination.” He expanded upon his ideas, putting emphasis on using short term stays centered around culinary attractions to bolster tourism to the area.
He also raised the example of websites which anyone can edit (wikis) and are frequently used by foreign travelers, citing the fact that the city’s English and Chinese language information was scarce. He encouraged the audience, saying, “The Japanese page introduces yakitori, but there is no explanation in English or Chinese. Since anyone can contribute information as a volunteer, I would really like us to try to do so.”
Mr. Martin Samoy (44), a Belgian photographer who has lived in Imabari for 15 years, presented some of his pictures of scenery around the city. Mr. Samoy’s acquaintance and coworker, Ms. Mizumi Ide (5), also of Imabari, said “I was moved by the way that he photographed landscapes so familiar and ordinary to Japanese people with a fresh perspective.”（Fumihito Tawa）
Oh the juvenile joys of living in a country where English is widely used…poorly… By poorly, I mean simply that you wouldn’t find that particular bit of English on an electronic scoring system screen in the US. It is, you must admit, a pretty natural usage, though. Just one you more often hear than read. Super short post!
Well, folks, my tourism project with ICIEA has finally come to a close. It was a lot of fun, and I’m thankful for the experience. I created a video to precede my talk to the crowd gathered at the international fair we held on Sunday last weekend. It was a pretty fun time. I enjoyed looking over the posters and photography from other monitor tourists before showing my DVDs and then getting up to speak. Those videos have been arranged in a playlist and embedded above. The first 2 in the playlist are available in full 1080p HD, so don’t miss out. The remaining 4 have been previously featured on this site.
Anyhoo – I was asked to deliver a bilingual speech, so I frequently repeated myself, I’m afraid. I’m fairly sure that both the Japanese people and the English speaking foreigners in the crowd were able to follow me reasonably well. My take: Imabari should play up its unique food heritage in a play to put itself on foreigners’ radar. I explained the concept of food tourism, and how most foreign people who go to Hiroshima go there in order to take in the history, the museums, and the sights. But they’d be foolish to miss out on some okonomiyaki while they’re there. (Am I right?)
Imabari is the crosspoint of 3 major arteries of transportation, yet people no longer stop here on their way elsewhere on Shikoku. I urged them to think about the slogan thought up by my friend Harry; “Shikoku Starts Here.” Great slogan! If only we could get some people to take a break from their travels, spend a night here, and eat some yakitori. That’s right, yakitori. Imabari is currently the #2 city in all of Japan for yakitori, and it has a unique take on it, at that. In Imabari, shops make yakitori on sheet metal griddles and handheld steel plates instead of on skewers over charcoal. It’s said that this type of yakitori started because Imabari people are impatient and they want their food lickety-split. (It’s also likely that the ship building industry’s presence meant that loads of scrap steel plates were readily available…) DELICIOUS, by the way.
Anyway, my other recommendations were for people to get online and add information to the English language Wikipedia and Wikitravel entries. (I also told them they could pay me to do it….semi-facetiously. Got some laughs. The offer still stands, if you’re reading this, guys. Ha ha. ) All in all, I think my suggestions were well received, and I think the event went well. I want to say kudos to the other foreigners who volunteered their time and to all of the Japanese staff who worked so tirelessly on this project. お疲れ様でした！
I may or may not bring this topic up once more on this blog. It seems there may be some newspaper articles coming up out of this. And it’s also possible that I’ll post a song about Imabari’s yakitori. (No joke. It was made when we were the #1 city for yakitori. Perhaps with the aid of foreign tourism, we can reclaim the title?)
I recently had several classes re-caption several webcomics. I did this for a few reasons. Using comics in class to have students develop dialogue is far more interesting / engaging than asking them to roleplay what has already been written in the textbook. It’s also far more challenging due to its unfamiliarity. These students do not know the characters from the comic, have a mere 3 frames to grasp the context of the situation, and are often pressed to be super creative when faced with these issues. I love that. I thrive on that. I like to hear the gears in their heads whir as they do something out of the ordinary. Plus, it benefited me in a way, too – I also happened to use this activity as an example in a
cruddy mediocre talk I gave at our prefectural midyear seminar to other high school ALTs.
I first got the idea for this project when I saw it pop up on the blog of a former CIR here in Ehime. His Japanese examples are pretty funny, by the way, though you can tell they’re a bit dated from the jokes (not just the URL)! Anyhoo, I then traced it over to this site, which is where I saw the potential for high school kids to pull it off.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Penny Arcade, you really should be. It’s a hugely popular webcomic built around gamer interests that’s updated thrice weekly. The guys who make it, Mike & Jerry, rock out with their socks out, so go hit them up. Having said that, I feel like it’s important to offer up a note here. Note: Penny Arcade is NOT appropriate for class. The subject matter is super niche and the language alters between course, archaic, and highly sarcastic. The art, however, is perfect – highly emotive and often curious.
You can visit the source comics via the following links: 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5. That’s right. 5 comics. Examples follow. Please feel free to read them. Sorry about the poor legibility – the ditto machines are ancient at school. Ask questions and make comments if you’re so inclined! But above all else, enjoy. Read more…