Abstract – Funck

Has the Island Lure Reached Japan? Remote Islands between Tourism Boom, New Residents and Fatal Depopulation

Carolin FUNCK (Hiroshima University)

Most of Japan’s smaller islands face severe problems of depopulation and aging. However, in recent years some of them have managed to turn the tide and attract not only tourists but also new residents. A range of factors has created this new current, among them “new” forms of tourism like ecotourism and art tourism, active promotion by municipalities, a change in the conception of rural life, and the new media that allow even residents of remote islands to connect and sell their products and services around Japan. Municipal merger has played an important role, because islands that kept their administrative autonomy have a better chance to develop unique policies. On the other hand, SNS and new media have given tourists and residents a new kind of very heterogenic power. This paper will analyze how islands try to ride the new vogue while at the same time create distinct images and policies to become “the” chosen island by tourists and potential migrants.