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Chinese tourists favor rural leisure over shopping in Japan

Reporter: Mi Jiayi 丨 CCTV.com

07-27-2016 00:26 BJT

Traveling holidays are always a hot issue during the summer heat. One of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists is still Japan, but the stronger Yen is changing where they go when they get there.

More and more tourists are finding pleasant experiences in quieter, more rural destinations rather than the big cities like Tokyo and Osaka. 

The stronger Japanese Yen has made shopping in Japan less attractive for Chinese tourists. The currency has risen more than 16 percent against the RMB since the beginning of this year.

Although the number of tourists to Japan is the on the rise, the average amount they spend shopping has dropped nearly 10 percent in the second quarter.

Instead of making shopping the priority, many Chinese tourists are beginning to explore the country for cultural experiences and and the natural scenery.

Mr. Jin Qiao is one of them, and in the past two years has traveled more than five times to Kagoshima Prefecture on the southern tip of Kyushu -- only a one-and-a-half hour flight from Shanghai.

"There are so many Chinese tourists going to Tokyo and Osaka, I've lost interest in them. Instead, I found Kagoshima very pleasant, because it's close to Shanghai and fewer people travel there," he said.

"The locals are very hospitable because they haven't yet received many Chinese tourists as the big cities have. I'm very fond of taking hot baths, and Kagoshima offers two kinds of them - water baths and sand baths, which is very rare."

Apart from the hot springs in Kagoshima, the area boasts an active volcano that is the source of the hot sand baths that dot the beaches. This is one of the biggest attractions of the area. Every year, some 270,000 people take the standard ten-minute sand bath, and enjoy the seaside view with friends.

"Every year around 10,000 Chinese tourists will come to our sand bath. I think we became known to Chinese tourists around two or three years ago," said Tateyama Kazufumi, section chief, Ibusuki Saraku.

"Now we get Chinese tourists almost every day. We expect the number will continue to grow, and so we are putting up more signs in Chinese to better serve the Chinese travelers."

Apart from the sand baths, other natural attractions are drawing more and more Chinese visitors as well. In addition to the Sakurajima volcano, Kagoshima has a world-heritage forest island, and gardens where you can learn the Japanese tea ceremony. There are direct flights to Kagoshima from Shanghai twice a week, with plans to add more.

"More and more Chinese tourists come here on their own instead in tourist groups. It usually takes four or five days to see all of Kagoshima, and the full tour costs between six and eight thousand yuan per person," said Kamikatahira Fumihiro, director, Kagoshima Products Association.

"We've negotiated deals with the airline company to get discounts for Chinese tourists from time to time, and we hope that will attract more Chinese travelers."

More than three million Chinese visited Japan in the first half of this year, a 41.2 percent increase from the same period last year. The Japanese government is also giving discounts on tours to Kyushu, to help boost the travel industry which slowed following an earthquake in April. At the moment, Chinese travelers make up more than one quarter of all tourists to Japan.

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