24:Kaori Kinoshita, the clerical staff of Toba Ryokan Association

It is so meaningful to spend time with the proprietresses.I have been learning so many things through their behavior and the point of view as OKAMI.

Toba Proprietress Association, AKOYA-KAI was established in September of 2011, as the organization of women’s’ group of Toba Ryokan Association.The president at that time had proposed that there had be the place in the association which women could share their abilities to the society.Kaori Kinoshita is working for the association as the clerical staff. She supports their activities in and out of the office and is adored by the proprietresses of AKOYA-KAI.

Toba Proprietress Association, AKOYA-KAI was started to activate the communication between the OKAMIs and get out from the Ryokans and hotels to work for the society.The more we have the opportunities to meet each other and exchange the information about our hotel businesses, the more the frank opinions and proposals were popped out one after another and we decided what to do as our activities as AKOYA-KAI.We firstly made the logo of Toba Ryokan Association with the female perspective.And we took the classes and lessons of Aromatherapy, Japanese Tea and Manners and so on. Also, the convenient and beautiful restaurants guide map for the foreign customers supervised by OKAMIs of our association. I believe that women are good at paying careful attention to make the foreigners-friendly map like that.

For the activities and announcements, we use the facilities in Toba city to advertise them.We have also been trying to deepen engagements with some organizations in and out of Mie prefecture, for example, visiting the governor and attending to Partners’ program at the G7 Ise-Shima summit held in Toba city.Also, there are other proprietresses’ associations in Toba city, CHIDORI-KAI in Osatsu and TAMAMO-KAI in Toushijima island. We cooperate with them and in the end of the year, ask them to join the MOCHI-BANA making event.
MOCHIBANA is the traditional decoration for New Year. We have started making the branches rapped with pink and white colored rice cake in 2012. And to let the children to have the opportunity to learn Japanese traditional culture, we invite the kindergarten pupils in Toba city and make MOCHIBANA branches together. They enjoy making the traditional decoration and feeling the touch of RYOKAN culture because many of them didn’t have a chance to visit RYOKANS even they are living in the city.Every time we have events and announcements, we never forget to gather the media. We also try to give them new information about us. We have to stay fresh and keep doing interesting and useful things for the society. And it will be got quick reaction from media.Our activities shouldn’t be self-satisfaction.

As we are always thinking that what our aim is, we are getting more active in these years.We entered AKOYA-KAI’s activities in the Tourists-Friendly Regional Ryokans and Hotels Award organized by All Japan Ryokan Hotel Association and win the Effort Award. From Toba Tourism Association, we have got the letter of appreciation. Those evaluations are big encouragement for us to carry on our activities. Getting information about Toba out to the world is consequently connecting to promotion of ryokans and hotels in Toba city. By this point of view, we are always ready for going anywhere to have much more chances to appear in the tv shows or radio programs.

Our biggest accomplishment was holding All Japan OKAMI Summit successfully in July 2016.It was the 27th Okami Summit held in Ryokan in Tokai area in the first time.We invited the summit to Toba city, which was held up until this time in urban area like Tokyo, Kyoto or Fukuoka.We collected sponsorships by ourselves and received 100 guests and 150 OKAMIs at that summit.Members of AKOYA-KAI got close and united much more than before after the success of the big event.

I don’t only work in the office of Association but also join the classes and lectures with OKAMIs. It is so meaningful to spend time with them.
I have been learning so many things through their behavior and the point of view as OKAMI.I hope that as many people as possible want to know how wonderful Toba is though the articles. I would like them to be interested in TOBA and RYOKANS and Hotels in our city. We keep on sharing information about OKAMI and ITAMAE to all over the world till the words become to the common words for everyone in the world.

Category: Okami

23:Kinue Yoshida, the proprietress of Yoshida-Ya Wako and Kinkai-rou

Toba is the city with a population of 18,000. The municipal system was implemented in 1954 and designated as the international tourism culture city.What should we do for the city which has a lot of people engaged in the tourism industry? Kinue is always truly committed to work on everything with her positive thoughts and as an OKAMI and also just a citizen, she is facing the critical issues to make the city great again.

Toba is one of the Japan’s major tourism city with 430million visitors in a year.And 170million of them stay in the accommodation facilities in our city.The hotels and Ryokans receive the number of people of 100 times more than the population.Also, 70% of citizens are engaged in the tourism industry and the tax revenue from the industry supports the municipal government.Therefore, Toba city has to keep on working hard to attract tourists, but I feel that we are having hard time in the present situation.Because, the numbers are showing that as the data. We once had 200 Ryokans and inns 5 years ago, but now we have 170 of them. 30 Ryokans and hotels were closed their businesses.

Maintaining presence situation doesn’t make anything better, I believe. Of course, the beautiful landscape and rich food are good enough as they are now.What is happening if more Ryokans and inns are closed after 5 years or 10 years later?Can the city secure the financial resource from the tourism industry as same as it does now?Our population is less than 18thousand now.

Valuable workers are flowing out of the city. This means Toba city for the place to live is less attractive than the other cities.Work style reform is the talk of Japan now, but the shortage of the work force is a matter of life and death. I expect the city policy which makes the tourism industry in Toba grow again and directly connected to the tax revenue increase. That is what I believe that maintaining the present situation doesn’t make anything better.

Toba city has been working on promoting Ama culture. In the same way, I think that the OKAMI is the existence which also take over Japanese tradition and culture and promoting what OKAMI is to the world is just led to PR of Toba city, because there are many OKAMIs in 170 Ryokans and hotels in the city.

I have lived in Toba over 40 years since I was born here, sometimes I think back how my city used to be in the old days.In summer or the long weekend, the street was jammed with a lot of cars and it took 2 hours to drive the 10 minutes distance by car.The red-light district used to have the bustle and the city had 23,000 population before.Recently, in Sakatejima island of Toba city has no more children and closed only elementary school there. I started to worry that we will have some of the islands become uninhabited island someday.Since I have become the OKAMI of my Ryokan, my anxiety keeps going up.Not only some Ryokans were closed, but also one of taxi company pulled out of Toba city.This situation is not acceptable to keep it as they are now.

The proprietress association, AKOYA-KAI of Toba Ryokan Association has been keenly working on the promotion of Toba.AKOYA-KAI is now focusing on the inbound tourism. We are planning some strategies to attract more domestic customer of course, and foreign customers.

I manage to make my spare time and when I have it, I go abroad.I was so impressed when I visited Macao at the first time.The main industry of Macao is the tourism and casinos and they support the economy with the tax revenue from the industry. The foreign major company rebuilt the whole region. No tax needed to pay, and the tax revenue covers the cost for education and medical treatment. And the allowance, about 180 thousand yen per person are annually paid. From the early morning to the midnight, the region is full of workers. Macao is one of successful example of the tourism city. There is the fact that tax revenue increase by the policy make people richer.

It would be nice to get out of my small city and to collect the information with wide view.I only get one life, so I don’t want to regret, I do whatever I believe it’s good, I try anything I want, I don’t push myself something I don’t want and I only move onward. That’s my way.I soak up information and keep making topics of Toba to attract much more people all over the world.
Category: Okami