CoFesta Ambassador x FRI：The new trend in inbound tour starts here! “Japanese Content Tour Planning Contest” was held
“Japan International Content Festival (Referred to hereinafter as CoFesta),” a project to further promote the dissemination of Japanese content overseas, held the “Japanese Content Tour Planning Contest” with “CoFesta Ambassadors,” comprising mainly international students studying abroad. This contest was held on March 13, 2016, in the main building of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and CoFesta ambassadors from China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and France participated. Inbound tour plans were presented, featuring Japanese content such as film, animation, and fashion.
Fields Research Institute (FRI) has been covering the activities of the CoFesta ambassadors for about a year, but this contest was a large event that can be seen as the finale. The CoFesta ambassadors deepened their knowledge of Japanese content by covering numerous events, and they took pride in their ideas. The tour plans were all novel, something only those from other countries could come up with. Under the eager attention of judges from the Japanese content industry, the enthusiastic presentations by each country’s team were given one after another.
■ Team China “5→9 ～The monk that fell in love with me～” x Drama information site
Kicking off the contest was Team China’s plan for a TV drama tie-up, and their main target was Chinese women attracted to Japanese esthetics and diet. By providing a desktop site for Chinese in partnership with the town information portal, “Hot Pepper,” to introduce shops where one can purchase clothes used in a drama, beauty salons where one can have one’s hair cut in the style of the characters’ that appeared in a drama, restaurants and cafes used in a drama, etc., it aimed to attract more Chinese tourists.
The choice of a “desktop” rather than a smartphone as the platform to provide its service was intentional due to the specific circumstances surrounding internet usage in China, and as explained by the team, “Even till today, desktops are still very much in the mainstream in China.” Furthermore, on this special site, a service to create an original “sticker” taken from a favorite drama scene, is also provided. On “WeChat,” the biggest SNS in China, interactions with stickers are very popular, and they said that it is not unusual for a trend to start from a sticker. The team developed its theory that, due to this, dramas and actors can be very effectively promoted by using the sticker’s great ability to spread ideas widely.
■ Team Philippines “The Ring” x Horror Tour
The inbound tour plan that the second team, Team Philippines, presented was a “horror tour,” which the judges did not expect. For its featured content, the Japanese horror movie, “The Ring,” was proposed.
According to a presenter, horror movies are favorably received by the general public. In particular, “Sadako,” the representative character of “The Ring,” is very wellknown even to people in the Philippines who have not watched the movie themselves, the presenter stressed. For example, in Manila, apart from Halloween when there are always Filipinos dressed as Sadako every year, recently, a popular cosplayer whose facebook followers amount to more than 5.6 million, recently dressed as Sadako and garnered huge attention.
To respond to such a Japanese horror movement, the team planned a package tour for people to enjoy notable horror spots in and around Tokyo. They emphasized that if many different kinds of horror spots are introduced, such as “Fuji-Q Highland Super Scary Labyrinth of Fear” as a tourist attraction, having “Kiraku Ryokan in Nasu” for accommodation, and “Prison Restaurant Lock-up” for a restaurant, it will be a big conversation topic among Filipino tourists, as being exactly the kind of tour that one can experience only in Japan. Furthermore, the team repeatedly emphasized the importance of Sadako for this plan, saying, “For the featured character, Sadako would be ideal. We’d like to arrange for a cosplayer to be the tour guide, dressed as Sadako.”
■ Team Vietnam “BeauTV〜VoCE” x Beauty Tour for Women
The plan that attracted attention was the beauty tour proposed by Team Vietnam, which narrowed its target to fashion-conscious “Vietnamese women.” From the beginning, the team shared honest comments, one after another, such as the candid statement, “Japanese women are good at making themselves ‘beautiful’!” which the audience could not contain their laughter to. Their presentation proceeded in a lighthearted atmosphere from the start to end.
Team Vietnam first pointed out the current situation that although there are many Vietnamese women who wish to know more about Japanese cosmetics, sources of information are lacking. A “beauty” inbound tour was then proposed to respond to such an unsatisfactory situation, as a holistic guide to include purchasing beauty products to a workshop on makeup techniques, in a tie-up with “BeauTV〜VoCE,” a TV program on beauty by an affiliate of TV Asahi. In addition, broadcasting a Vietnamese version of “BeauTV〜VoCE” in Vietnam starring local women will facilitate the promotion of the tour.
The team argued that if the program becomes a topic of conversation among Vietnamese women, it will not only expand the inbound tour, but will also lead to an expected increase in the purchase of beauty products, and it can aim to bring in many sponsors for the program. By using the Vietnamese version of “BeauTV〜VoCE” to create buzz for the inbound tour, the team revealed its vision to create a huge ecosystem in future, spanning multiple industries such as retailers, beauty products manufacturers, media, and the advertising industry.
■ Team Indonesia “We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day.” x Cool Saitama App
With over 17,000 islands and 70,000 languages, Indonesia is a country of complexity. Team Indonesia said that to deal with such issues, provision of tourism information through “smartphone apps” is ideal. On the challenge of proceeding with the development of the app, the team focused on using the setting of a popular animation as a “tourist spot.”
“Chichibu City in Saitama Prefecture” was cited as a prime example. Chichibu is a place that was the setting of the animation hit, “We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day,” (subsequently referred to as “That Flower”) broadcast in 2011, and even till now, is still visited by many fans on “pilgrimage.”
It has been said that those true animation enthusiasts voluntarily create an enormous database of animation works, and they will spare no effort for their favorite animation. Complimenting such fans of Japanese animation, the presenter exclaimed, “There are people who shockingly spend the equivalent of a car for a ticket of a live concert of their favorite animation!” The presenter candidly shared the experience of being completely overwhelmed by the passion of animation fans.
Hence, in the case of “That Flower,” the team passionately explained that avid animation fans would also happily provide tourist information of Chichibu sought by Indonesians. Moreover, the team made a strong appeal to the judges that information on Chichibu’s tourist spots, restaurants, directions, etc., provided by fans passionate about the animation, would be thorough and of high quality.
■ Team France “Ghibli” x Ecotourism
Appearing on stage to wrap-up the contest, Team France proposed a plan for an inbound tour that fused “ecotourism” and “Ghibli works.” The team said that the French, who value freedom more than anything and are highly eco-conscious, would wish to enjoy carefree and eco-friendly train travel during their stay in Japan by using the “JAPAN RAIL PASS,” a ticket with unlimited rides for people from other countries provided by JR Group. The team spoke about how “Ghibli works,” which have received international popularity, would be the Japanese content that perfectly matches the mindset of the French.
The reason for choosing Ghibli works as its featured content was that Ghibli films are very well known in France, and works by “Miyazaki” — in fact, the two works of “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle” — exceeded over one million viewers at the box office, exceptional for a film produced in the non-English-speaking world. The “worldview” of Ghibli works is magnificent. “One is drawn to the bonds between people and the connection to nature,” and the team explained that Ghibli works are widely accepted by the general public in France.
By using the great popularity of Ghibli works, the plan provides a unique “point system” for French tourists. For example, when someone posts on SNS about their experience visiting a tourist spot related to eco-friendliness or Ghibli, or about participating in an activity that is kind to the environment, they can get a “Totoro point.” In addition to using the Totoro points for a discount at Ghibli facilities and official shops, the points can also be exchanged for gifts such as organic food and drink, and local specialties, to bring back to France. Moreover, from JR Group and Ghibli having their image enhanced through the appeal of CSR activities, to expecting an expansion of their market by offering Totoro points, among other outcomes, the team stressed that companies providing the services will also benefit substantially
■ The first prize goes to the team Vietnam, and the second prize goes to team French！
After a strict review, the French team was selected for the second prize, and the Vietnamese team was selected for the first prize. Mr. Yamamuro, the assistant manager for the media contents department of the Ministry of Economy, who was in charge of announcing the judge's results, hinted at the future direction of Inbound Tour by commenting that "the reality of each team's country was reflected in their respective projects, making the contest much more interesting. As I listened to the ambassador's projects, I truly felt just how necessary it is to find solutions which are adequate for each different location."
During the closing speeches, the executive manager for VIPO (Visual Industry Promotion Organization), Ms. Morishita, who was in charge of CoFesta, took the stage. She brought the contest to a finish by stating that "the ambassadors and staff have spent these past days working until late at night to carefully prepare this event. As a result, all teams have been able to give wonderful presentations."
This article concerns CoFesta, a campaign to hold a variety of events to aid highly compatible industries in effectively going abroad, and its collaborative planning with Fields Research Institute(FRI), which conducts research in entertainment.