Wakayama is a very well known tourist destination in the East and South Eastern countries like China, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Although in India it is not on the list of Indian tourists but Wakayama government is in the process of popularising it. Wakayama has a lot of tourist attractions. They are blessed with rich nature and culture, and long history. The World Heritage inscribed Koyasan (Mt. Koya) which is a sacred site for Buddhism and Kumano which is a sacred site for Shintoism (Japanese originated religion) are very popular destinations. Recently a high powered delegation from Wakayama visited Maharashtra state to know more about Indian culture and popular destinations of Maharashtra. Tourism minister of Maharashtra Jaykumar Raval gave in-depth presentation to Wakayama delegation. Sitaram Mewati in conversation with Hiroyuki Tsui,Director General for International Affairs, Wakayama Prefectural Government.
Wakayama has been termed by tourists as Japan’s best kept secret. Why it is not actively promoted as tourist destination?
Wakayama is a very popular destination for both domestically and internationally. It is very well known in the East and South Eastern countries like China, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. However as you say, it is not very well known in India. Japan, as a whole, is still a future destination for Indians. But we do promote tourism in India. We had invited a group of tour operator from India this April and we had visited several agencies in Mumbai. In addition, Governor (which is equivalent to the Chief Minister in India) of Wakayama prefecture is going to visit Mumbai next January to lead a delegation which include people from tourism sectors.
What are places of interest in Wakayama?
Wakayama has a lot of attractions. We are blessed with rich nature and culture, and long history. The World Heritage inscribed Koyasan (Mt. Koya) which is a sacred site for Buddhism and Kumano which is a sacred site for Shintoism (Japanese originated religion) are very popular destinations. The small mountaintop Buddhist community of Mount Koya is one of Japan’s most magical destinations, and the perfect place to spend a night at a Buddhist temple in shukubo temple lodgings.
To know more about our favourite tourist destination you can Visit our site, https://en.visitwakayama.jp for more.
Tell us something about Wakayama’s Ramen?
This is a very good question as a matter of fact; Wakayama Ramen is a kind of soup noodle flavored by soya source and pork. It has a reputation as a number one ramen in Japan. It is so popular that a lot of people from all over the world visit Wakayama, just to relish the Wakayama ramen. Visit https://mysecretwakayama.com/cat/ramen/ for more.
What are the projects initiated by Wakayama administration in India?
Wakayama Prefectural Government initiates the “OMOTENASHI” of hospitality training project for the MTDC staff with a help of JICA and an educational program for the youth. We invited some of the MTDC staff to Wakayama and transferred the ideas of hospitality for visitors for the MOTENASHI training project. Besides, we also invited some young students from the Ajanta Cave area to discuss the importance of preservation of cultural assets with their counterparts in Wakayama.
When is Nachi Fire Festival is celebrated? What is its significance?
Nachi Fire Festival is celebrated on July, 14 every year as a part of the annual ritual of the Shinto shrine, Kumano Nachi Taisha or the Kumano Nachi Grand Shrine. From ancient times, Japanese people worshiped Mother Nature as gods and goddesses. Great nature like mountains, rivers, big rocks and waterfalls are often enshrined as gods and goddesses. Kumano Nachi Taisha enshrines a tall waterfall as a goddess.
In Japan, fire is believed to have power to purify things. Water is very important for agriculture. At the Nachi Fire Festival, fired big torches purify waterfall shaped fans that are the manifestation of water to pray for rich harvest of rice.
How do you propose to promote Wakayama in India? Any plans for creating India specific events?
As I have said earlier that Wakayama is a very popular destination for the tourists of other part of the world and it is gaining momentum in India too. The Prefectural Government has many plans in pipeline for its promotion in India too. Our government has massive plans for a promotion event in Mumbai which would be organised in January 2018. Governor Nisaka would visit Mumbai in January to promote tourism.
Have you appointed any tourist officer from your region in Mumbai?
The Prefectural Government has various plans for bringing Wakayama on Indian tourist map. Keeping this in view we have appointed a representative namely Hidekazu Hirai. He is based in MTDC office in Mumbai. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org for any queries pertaining to Wakayama.
Author: Sitaram Mewati
Award winning journalist