Gaps and Limitations - Contrasting Attitudes to Newcomers and Their Role in a Japanese Island Community
Miyagawa Coulton, Tom
The historical harbor village of Mitarai on the island of Osakishimojima epitomizes the problem of social decline in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea. This research focuses on both Mitarai’s local community and the wider society. Through conducting a year-long survey of island residents, this research highlights how villagers expect to overcome the challenges relating to tourism development, maintenance of festivals and attracting in-migrants during a time when severe shrinkage, aging, and economic stagnation hinders all forms of community revitalization. Many residents wanted more people to know about Mitarai and its charms. The authors responded by creating an exhibition about Mitarai at the Hiroshima University Museum that promoted the town and the region to a young generation of students and other museum visitors. The results of a survey conducted among museum visitors showed how the exhibition increased awareness of Mitarai as a destination and respondents were more willing to support Mitarai’s annual festival. However, they were less likely to relocate permanently to the island. The research on the island combined with the subsequent survey of museumgoers highlighted a disparity between the hopes of the community and the reality of the situation. This paper considers the recent emergence of in-migrants with a relational role in revitalization and commuters with small businesses aimed at both locals and tourists as the main mechanisms for overcoming social decline and bringing vitality back to the community.
The lead author was supported by the Hiroshima University TAOYAKA Program for creating a flexible, enduring, peaceful society, which is funded by the Program for Leading Graduate Schools at the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
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