NAGOYA – While Chinese tourists’ shopping sprees in Japan continue at such a pace that “explosive buying” has become the buzzword of the year, an academic survey has shown that Japanese landscapes, culture and art may be more alluring than the bright lights of famous shopping districts.
The survey by Wang Yin, a Nagoya-based Chinese postgraduate student researching Chinese tourist behavior, found 29 percent of Chinese respondents cited “viewing countryside” as a reason for visiting Japan, followed by 26 percent who nominated “appreciation of traditional culture and arts.”
This compared to 15 percent who cited “convenience in shopping” as the motivation for their visit.
Wang, who conducted the survey a year ago with 115 respondents of which 30 percent had previously visited Japan, said Japanese tourist spots were well known in China through the broadcast of Japanese TV drama series such as “Oshin” and those featuring 1970s starlet Momoe Yamaguchi.
“They are probably seeking healing in the beautiful Japanese countryside,” said the 34-year-old student of Nagoya Gakuin University’s graduate school.
Chinese people are equally interested in traditional Japanese items and architecture, because they know how “well old buildings and artworks are preserved in Japan,” she said, adding there was even an expression in China saying, “The Tang dynasty (618-907) and Song dynasty (960-1279) exist in Japan.”
The popularity of Japanese anime series “Ikkyu-san,” featuring a smart, youthful Buddhist monk, also boosted visits to the Kinkaku-ji golden temple in Kyoto.
Hokkaido was the most popular destination for Chinese visitors, cited as the favorite by 31 percent, followed by the so-called Golden Route — a tour starting in Tokyo before heading westward to Kyoto and Osaka via Mount Fuji — at 29 percent.
“If You Are the One,” a 2008 Chinese blockbuster movie partly shot in Lake Akan in Hokkaido, is believed to have played a role in the increasing popularity of the northernmost island among Chinese tourists.
Asked what they would like to do in Japan, 24 percent of respondents put experiencing a hot spring at the top of their list. Sightseeing at Mount Fuji was second at 21 percent, followed by cherry blossom viewing at 19 percent.
Wang, who hails from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and has worked as a guide for Japanese tourists in Shanghai and for Chinese tourists in Tokyo, said the survey results could help inform Chinese tourism in Japan.
“Just like Japanese people, Chinese seek peace in beautiful landscapes and hot springs. (The Japanese tourism industry) should promote regional sightseeing spots or medical tourism,” she said.
Of the 115 respondents, more than half were in their 30s, and 70 percent were university graduates and earned an annual income of up to 190,000 yuan (approximately ¥3.64 million).