Ministry to guide restoration of Japanese gardens overseas as part of culture and tourism push

JIJI

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will take on projects to restore Japanese gardens overseas with the aim of spreading Japanese culture and luring more tourists to Japan.

When fiscal 2017 begins on April 1, the ministry plans to send landscape engineers and other experts to two or three gardens in North America or Europe that will be designated as pilot projects, officials said.

The specialists are expected to come up with their restoration plans by inspecting the gardens in person.

The ministry will also consider producing manuals for each of the gardens abroad so local caretakers can properly maintain and manage them.

Most of the more than 500 Japanese gardens outside Japan are in North America. They were mainly created for occasions like world expositions or the establishment of sister-city links. But some are not being taken care of properly, and embassy staff and others have consulted the ministry about the problem, according to officials.

Japanese gardens are viewed as important ways to spread the word about Japanese culture and attractions, and play a major role in attracting tourists.

The ministry decided to cooperate with the restoration projects because gardens that are improperly cared tend to lose their appeal. It plans to select operators for the projects by as early as May.

Under the plan, the operators will advise local landscape engineers on how to care for Japanese gardens so they can be properly maintained in the future, the officials said.

In its policy vision for tourism announced in March last year, the government decided to take on the restoration projects to foster better understanding of traditional Japanese culture. It regards such projects as having an important role in expanding the number of people who admire Japan and its unique culture.