Brad is back in Japan semi-permanently and he has a job!
My employer is a local tourism bureau called Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau and my title is International Tourism Promotion Foreign Guy. Tanabe is the area where I lived when I was teaching English here on the JET Program from 1999-2002. I'm responsible for promoting the area to non-japanese visitors. My goal will be to make more information available for independent travelers to work their way safely and efficiently through this unique cultural landscape as well as supporting the local people as they adapt to foreign visitors.
Tanabe has awesome tourism potential including the World Heritage Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage route and Kumano Hongu Taisha (Grand Shrine). I also really love soaking in the isolated hot springs deep in the mountains. I'm so happy to be able to live and work again in Japan!!!
July 24& 25, 2007. Tanabe, Japan. Every year for over 400 years the local shrine, Tokei-jinja holds it annual festival. The highlight is floats that are pulled around town that are transporting objects, mostly large dolls that are turned into temporary places of residence for the local dieties. It was my first time seeing the festival and I wish that I could have been more a part of the action. Maybe next year.
June 10, 2007. Kitayama River, Shingu, Japan. Summer means Kayaking in Wakayama, at least for me!! The Kii-peninsula is covered in mountains and gets lots of precipitation with exciting rivers to explore. The water is so clear and refreshing I can see why people for over 1300 years have been making the pilgrimage to Kumano, purifiying themselves in the revitalizing water from the surrounding sacred peaks. The Kitayama river is also famous for the Dorokyo gorge and for tours on log rafts. Historically woodcutters would ride their harvest down the rivers to the coast where they could be delivered to market. Now the hauling is done by trucks and the rafts are for tourists looking for some excitement. See you on the water!
June 2, 2007. Wakayama City, Japan. The University of Wakayama just had their official opening ceremonies. There were many Professors from around the world who attended the ceremony where they had a demonstration of Tuna filleting with a samurai sword, a Noh drama and a Taiko performance by Okukumano Taiko. Wakayama is a place ripe with research opportunities especially about sustainable tourism and how the World Heritage Designation is changing the face of Tourism in the area, especially for the historical Kumano area. Hopefully we will also be able to recruit some of the graduates from the new department to someday work in Tanabe to improve the ability for non-Japanese speaking travelers to experience Kumano.