The symposium was held at Higashi Miyoshi Town, Miyoshi Toubu Welfare Center, on February 9, 2016, and attended by approximately 100 residents.

The keynote speakers were Yukinori Hosaka, who runs the Ku-neru-asobu guesthouse in Higashi Iya and the COCO-CROSS guesthouse, and Masaaki Yamagishi, who runs the Shimakoya guesthouse on Naoshima in Kagawa Prefecture while also working as a member of the community-reactivating cooperator squad. We conducted a panel discussion thereafter.

Mr. Hosaka, a pioneer in the management of guesthouses and acceptance of foreigners in Nishi-Awa, gave two lectures, focusing on his activities, to raise the awareness of local people: "A new culture is born when travelers and immigrants interact with residents" and "Headwinds are always present in new challenges.”

Mr. Yamagishi, who is in contact with many tourists and immigrants to Naoshima, which has recently attracted much attention from Japan and abroad for its art, spoke about the current situation in Naoshima and his efforts to increase the number of people interacting with the island. He concluded with the following words: " Let us think for ourselves and put our ideas into practice together rather than being led by the town government alone.”

In the panel discussion, the participants asked many questions to the five speakers, including the two keynote speakers. The symposium provided an opportunity to discuss the "necessity of interacting with immigrants and foreign tourists" and "community-led initiatives.”

Title:Indigenous Agriculture Attracts Tourists from Around the World: The Potential of Agricultural and Cultural Tourism in Nishi Awa
Date:February 9, 2016
Venue:Higashi Miyoshi Town Miyoshi Toubu Welfare Center
Sponsor:Tokushima Tsurugisan Global Agricultural Heritage Promotion Council Secretariat
Partners:Tokushima University


The people living in the mountainous region of Nishi-Awa, called "Sora" in ancient times, have developed surprisingly indigenous ways to farm in the harsh environment of the steep slopes, which sometimes have slopes of 30 degrees or more. The unique knowledge, techniques, systems, values, and beliefs related to agriculture and land use of the local people have nurtured beautiful landscapes and a wide variety of flora and fauna unique to this region. In recent years, Nishi-Awa has attracted attention as a destination for school excursions, with more than 3,000 students per year experiencing overnight stays with farm families. In addition, Iya has attracted attention not only from Japan but also from the rest of the world. Alex Kerr, an Asia culture researcher, described Iya as "another world like a Shangri-La.” Tourism and cultural movements based on indigenous agriculture and culture are flourishing worldwide. In this symposium, we consider how to utilize indigenous agriculture methods and the associated agricultural culture developed in the Nishi-Awa region as a tourism resource. The symposium also considers the possibilities and challenges of utilizing indigenous agriculture as a resource for local communities.


< Part 1 >
Opening remarks: Kanenishi Shigeru (Mayor of Tsurugi Town) and Yoshiro Kawahara (Mayor of Higashi-Miyoshi Town)

Introduction to the symposium: Prof. Naoki Naito (Tokushima University Graduate School of Technology, Industrial and Social Science)

Keynote speech 1: ”How can we attract people from Japan and all around the world through the Lodging business?” by Yukinori Hosaka (representative, Life Upgrade LLC)

Keynote speech 2: ”Community development utilizing the characters of Naoshima” by Masaaki Yamagishi (Owner of Shimagoya and a member of community-reactivating cooperator squad in Naoshima)

15:35~15:45 Coffee break

< Part 2 >
Panel discussion: ” What can be done for the future of agricultural tourism in Nishi Awa?”
Facilitator: Prof. Naoki Naito (Tokushima University Graduate School of Technology, Industrial and Social Science)

Panelists: keynote speakers, Koji Deo (Sora no Sato General Incorporated Association), Shigeaki Hirano (Chairman, Nishisyo-Yoisho no Kai), and Hideto Matsuura (officer in Higashi-Miyoshi town government).