Nagoya has been featured heavily in magazines and TV programs recently as the city that people hate the most.
Magazines and broadcasters are branding the people of Nagoya as closed-minded and stingy, and ridiculing its unique cuisine, including toast with sweet red bean paste.
The media onslaught was apparently triggered by a survey by the Nagoya Municipal Government that showed it was the most disliked of Japan’s eight major cities.
But there is no such thing as bad publicity, and city officials are hoping the city’s return to the spotlight, albeit negative, will prompt more people to visit and discover a fresh attraction.
In September, Weekly Playboy published a four-page article titled “Nagoya Struck By Unparalleled Crisis!!”
Describing Nagoyans as stingy, the article discusses public calls for a bold reshuffling of the rosters at the Chunichi Dragons baseball team and Nagoya Grampus soccer team.
This year saw the Dragons come in last for the first time in 19 years and the Grampus get relegated to the J. League’s second division for the first time ever.
The Weekly Post magazine ran articles on the same theme.
It ran a four-part series from early August to mid-September titled “Hating Nagoya” that listed the reasons why people in other cities think so unfavorably of Nagoyans.
As an example of their stinginess, the Weekly Post pointed out that Nagoyans are known to take the large celebration bouquets presented at store openings home with them.
It also said they tend to dislike outsiders more than other Japanese do.
Nagoya’s unique food culture was also targeted for ridicule.
The article went on to describe Nagoya’s popular cuisine, including spaghetti with ankake sauce inspired by Chinese dishes, as “incomprehensible.” In addition, it complained there were dish names and rules on how to eat them that only its citizens know.
Not to be left out, business magazine President and woman’s weekly Josei Jishin both ran features dismissive of Nagoya, which also found itself the subject of a nationwide TV program.
Nagoya found itself in the spotlight when it conducted an online survey in June that revealed it was the least popular city to visit.
The survey, held from June 1 to 6, covered men and women between 20 and 64. It collected 418 responses from each of the following cities: Sapporo, Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Fukuoka.
Those surveyed were asked which of the big eight cities they wanted to visit most for shopping and entertainment.
After indexing the percentages, Kyoto was ranked top with 37.6 points, while Nagoya came in last with 1.4 points. Even the seventh choice, Osaka, fared much better with 16.8 points.
As for the “most attractive city,” people mostly voted for their own cities, except in Nagoya, whose residents preferred Kyoto and Tokyo.
“As an industrial city, Nagoya has undoubtedly contributed to Japan’s growth. But at present, it will just be a city people stop at (on their way) to another city,” rather than as a destination, said Nagoya Mayor Kawamura.
The editor for the Playboy article, Atsuya Yano, 32, is actually from Nagoya himself.
“There are many things that are a little off about us,” such as the eccentric Mayor Kawamura, who speaks with a strong Nagoya dialect, said Yano. “It’s easy to make fun of.
“It would be vicious if we bad-mouth a small rural city, but Nagoya can take the ribbing in stride,” he said.
The Nagoya Municipal Government, which held the survey, may be the one that was surprised most.
“I knew that it would cause a stir, but the extent of it was beyond my imagination,” said Yasuki Tagashira, 58, who heads the attraction promotion division.
“Even if they are only laughing at our expense, what’s important is that they are talking about us. This will trigger people’s curiosity and motivate them to visit and see for themselves what the city is actually like,” said Tagashira, who used to work at a local broadcaster.
The office is now creating new strategies to make use of the current media spotlight to improve its attractiveness.
This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on Nov. 4.
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