The TV show “Why Did You Come to Japan?” is a very popular program in Japan. Hundreds of thousands of viewers regularly watch the show to discover why foreigners choose to visit Japan. During the recent health crisis however, the program’s original format was no longer possible due to the border closure. A change was necessary. So what was that change?
The Original Concept
The show involves a television crew greeting foreigners at the arrival hall of Japan’s major airports. Most guests were therefore approached at Haneda International Airport or Narita International Airport in Tokyo, or even Kansai International Airport in Osaka.
Then the crew would then follow the visitors on their journeys through Japan. Visitors entering Japan for a unique reason would be selected, making each episode original and interesting for viewers. It was always engaging and guests seem to really enjoy being on the show.
The New Concept
Due to the absence of foreign arrivals during the health crisis, the concept needed to be updated in order that the show continue. So, without the arrival of foreign tourists, who else could the show focus on that would appeal to Japanese viewers?
As you can imagine, there are many foreigner residents living in Japan. The new concept was for the television crew of “Why Did You Come to Japan?” to approach them at train stations around Japan instead of the country’s airports. The show thus became unofficially became “Why Do You Live in Japan?”.
When “Why Did You Come to Japan?” Met Welcome-Matsumoto
As the representative of foreigners living in Matsumoto, we had the honor of being approached by the show. It was thrill and pleasure for us to share our passion and love for the city of Matsumoto from a foreign point of view.
We welcomed the team and took them to discover the famous Matsumoto Castle. The visit of the castle was conducted from a Western point-of-view; in other words, we introduced the castle by highlighting what is interesting for foreigners, but perhaps not necessarily apparent for Japanese.
We introduced Matsumoto Castle by highlighting what is interesting for foreigners
Such as? Well, we can confidently say that all Japanese know what a “shachi” is. This is not the case for most foreigners. The “shachi” are roof ornaments representing a mythical animal supposed to protect the building from fire. It is for this reason placed atop of all buildings built of timber, including all Japanese castles in symbolic protection of the structure.
The “shachi” is a mythical animal supposed to protect the building from fire
As residents of Matsumoto, we also know that Matsumoto Castle alone does not represent what really makes our city a great place to live…
A Very Local Experience
Matsumoto City is not only famous for its castle but also for its surrounding natural landscapes and mountains. That is why we brought the team to what we consider to be the “real” Matsumoto – a place between the modern city and rural heartland and one blessed with incredible panoramas!
Matsumoto City is also famous for its surrounding natural landscapes and mountains
We proposed to take them to a secret place that even locals do not know. A place from where you can enjoy an incredible panorama of the Japanese Alps along with the farmlands that produce Matsumoto’s famous apples.
Going Beyond Borders
We know what pleases both foreign and local visitors about our city. But then again, are there really differences between the image we as foreigners have of Japan and that of the Japanese?
We think it is interesting to consider what Japanese people like about their country compared to what foreigners value. Do you think that Japanese people have the same interests when visiting Matsumoto as foreign tourists? Not entirely!
For example, are Himeji Castle or Osaka Castle more popular in Japan than Matsumoto Castle? And what really interests a Japanese person coming to Matsumoto compared to a foreigner? History, culture or gastronomy? In the case of this last example, what do you know of the local gastronomy? Would you really like the same food as Japanese?
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