With over 5,000 articles produced mainly by international staff writers and guest contributors, tsunagu Japan is ripe with recommendations for inbound travelers destined for city streets bathed in neon, untamed corners of the archipelago and all the spaces in between.
“I lived abroad when I was a child and saw many people out there using and appreciating Japanese products. I have always wanted to do something that would connect Japan and the world ever since,” said D2C X Inc. President Ryo Hagiwara during an interview with The Japan Times.
Hagiwara set up his own company at the age of 30 to launch the website and provide services to promote Japanese companies and municipalities globally. In December 2018, the company joined D2C Inc., which specializes in digital marketing services through mergers and acquisitions, and changed its name to D2C X.
“Through this shift, we managed to enhance our resources and structure of the company. To the four language options we initially had on our website, we added three more languages — Vietnamese, Korean and Indonesian,” Hagiwara said, adding that the number of employees who are native speakers of various languages has also increased.
Director Yasuhiro Nakanishi explained that tsunagu Japan places importance on the views of their non-Japanese writers because what they find interesting may also appeal to those planning to visit from their respective countries while potentially differing from what Japanese tend to recommend to inbound visitors.
“Interests also vary depending on which countries the tourists are from, so we offer different sets of articles on different language pages,” he said.
Based on this, most pieces are not simply translations of articles written in Japanese or another language. The website believes readers are more likely to take action after reading articles that are specifically tailored for their demographic.
For example, instead of listing many tourist spots, a recent English article on Kyushu by a Thai writer focuses on nature, historical landmarks, photogenic spots and cuisine in Fukuoka, Oita and Kumamoto prefectures.
Rather than an information overload, the photo-heavy article is presented in a timeline format that details a three-day trip the writer took; this and the accompanying map provide a clear breakdown of a realistic travel itinerary that could prove helpful for first-time visitors trying to get a handle on logistics.
Another article on the English page features Niigata, Yamagata and Akita prefectures. The writer from Taiwan focuses on the historical treasures and nature in the area. It may also prove interesting for Japanese readers to see what the non-Japanese writer and readers gravitate to in areas that are not well known to international travelers.
There is also an article written in Mandarin by another Taiwanese writer about the city of Mima in Tokushima Prefecture. The article introduces traditional crafts such as indigo dyeing and local delights, as well as places to explore, along with beautiful photographs.
“This is published only on the Mandarin page because it is written in a way that would appeal most to Taiwanese readers,” Nakanishi said.
The article on a rafting day trip in Okutama in Tokyo could be a good recommendation for those who do not have time to travel far from the capital. Many may be surprised to find that part of western Tokyo is home to a lake surrounded by mountains, valleys and rivers.
At the end of the article, there is a link to the page where users can make reservations for the rafting experience. This is an area where tsunagu Japan is planning to beef up its efforts in the coming year.
“Our goal is to be the top media platform in the inbound tourism market in terms of scale and impact to readers. In addition, we want to be a retailer of tours and activities,” Hagiwara said.
The website has about 4 million views and 1.9 million unique users monthly.
“We can promote the attractions of Japan’s rural areas and connect our users to the local people and companies that provide services and experiences,” Nakanishi said.
This series introduces municipalities and local companies promoting the beauty and excellence of deep Japan.