1st Island Meeting Held on Mikurajima
The view of the Mikurajima island village from "the bird's tail"
The Tokyo Treasure Islands Project is a project which aims to add value to the Tokyo's islands and polishtheir brands through "Shima-Kaigi" (Island Meetings) with residents. This report covers the first island meeting held on June 13 in Mikurajima.
It's not just dolphins. What else does Mikurajima Island have to offer?
Twelve residents participated in the inaugural Mikurajima island meeting held on June 13.
They were split into three teams to allow each of them to think about the charms of the island first. Then, using the people who currently visit the island as an example, they discussed how to make those visitors even more passionate fans of Mikurajima Island so that the residents could polish the charms.
During the discussion on what makes the island attractive, twelve participants, who all have different occupations and come from different generations, wrote their ideas on sticky notes.
Aside from the over 100 wild dolphins and the dolphin swim tours that are found and offered at Mikurajima Island, the Japanese Box and Mulberry plants used to make the wooden pieces for Shogi(Japanese chess), the fresh water that flows abundantly in the island, and interpersonal relationships that are constructed from the small population of 300 giving people the feeling of safety and everyone being family members that are close to one another, were some of the points raised.
How to connect visitors with the island
Next, there was a discussion on how to polish the attractiveness of the island. Since housing is limited on Mikurajima Island, instead of increasing the number of new visitors, it is crucial to make existing visitors bigger fans. The discussion began by analyzing the current situation and determining what kinds of people visit the island.
Based on the data that 90% of the visitors come to the island for the dolphin swim and 50% of the people have previously visited, it was noted that many of the visitors are conscious about preserving the environment, love animals, and are women in 30th to 40th. The number of families and foreigners visiting the island are also increasing. It was pointed out that although the area is a remote island, those that visit are "looking for something special" and "wish to be a part of the island".
In response to the question "What can we do to make them stronger fans?", given that those with connections to the residents of the island are heavy repeat visitors, there were ideas such as "experiences and contents that deepen relationships with Mikurajima Island", as well as "events and festivals that provide an opportunity to develop connections with residents", highlighting the importance of creating points of contact to connect with the island.
On the other hand, since the lifestyle and nature at Mikurajima Island is attractive on its own, conservation is crucial. Several participants agreed that it's important to connect in ways that do not place psychological burdens on the residents and to embrace the feeling of stepping into the lives of the island's residents instead of creating new content for tourism.
Common ideas from diverse members
One of the participants, Taketoshi Yamada, claimed that "even though the ideas were spread out in different directions, I understood that we ultimately felt the same ways." Hiroko Hirose, who came to the island to marry, looked back at the meeting and said, "It was fun seeing the many unorganized ideas take shape later because it feels like we are moving forward."
There are four more sessions of the Mikurajima island meetings that are scheduled in 2019. The following sessions will use the ideas shared during this session as a foundation to expand the discussions.