1st Island Meeting Held on Miyakejima
The Tokyo Treasure Islands Project was launched in 2018 with the aim of further expanding the appeal of Tokyo’s islands by making even more effective use of their wonderful scenery, local specialties, culture, and other attributes. The residents of the 11 islands in the Pacific that form part of the Tokyo Metropolis have taken the lead in this initiative to create, refine, and broadly publicize the Tokyo Treasure Islands brand and generate added value for the islands. As part of the project, the four islands of Oshima, Kozushima, Miyakejima, and Hachijojima are each holding a series of five Island Meetings in fiscal 2018 to discuss branding.
The first of Miyakejima’s Island Meetings was held on September 18 on the second floor of the Kokoport Ferry Terminal in Ako. The 12 participants represented a variety of sectors, and included eco-tour guides and guest house operators from the tourist industry, farmers and fishers from the primary industries, and financial institution staff who support island businesses.
Welcoming remarks by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) Bureau of General Affairs were followed by an outline of the Treasure Islands Project. Participants were then given an example from another island, Okinoerabu-jima (part of the Amami islands in Kagoshima Prefecture). Operating on the idea that island branding means packaging the attractive characteristics of an island, which showed how islanders are creating futures for themselves that will embody their ideals.
Participants then divided into groups of three to share views and discuss and present a collaboration plan utilizing the attributes of their respective business sectors. The ideas presented reflected group members’ specialist skills and ventures they wanted to try in the future, giving a good sense of the potential for tie-ups with other sectors on Miyakejima. Specific examples included a package for parents to enjoy swimming with dolphins and diving while their children are taken on a farm tour and harvest fresh produce for a family barbeque in the evening; tours of Ashitaba plant farms for people staying in guest houses, with meals using Ashitaba; creation of schemes to support young entrepreneurs; and marketing and selling primary produce such as seafood and fresh flowers outside the island.
Next, the participants split into two groups to put forward and discuss their views on a wide range of issues. Each group member listed “island treasures” (attractive or positive attributes, things, or people) that he or she wants to pass onto the future, and the groups then discussed them to come up with a single-page summary before each member taking turns to tell the groups about “island treasures” they particularly wanted to preserve.
Team A focused especially on the importance of preserving agriculture, since the island will only flourish if its core primary industries thrive. To this end, the team noted the need to communicate the message that agriculture is an attractive industry and people can make a good living by farming on the island. Other examples of “island treasures” to be passed on to the future included isshobin sake bottles (an island mainstay), the volcano, girella punctata fishing, tokoroten jellied agar, natural scenery such as the unmanaged, unfenced cliffs, and the hospital that supports people’s lives.
Team B recognized that the island has plenty of attractive attributes, but placed particular value on high-quality Miyakejima fans and repeat visitors, and wanted to further increase their numbers. The team commented that Miyakejima will enhance its own potential if it can boost the number of people who like the island, come repeatedly, talk about their trips, and help to protect the island. Other examples of “island treasures” highlighted the many unique aspects of natural environment and landscape of Miyakejima, and included seasonal festivals, giant trees, the volcano, lacecap hydrangeas, and the sea.
Having heard the presentations, the secretariat remarked that all the various attractions cited were connected, and by expressing links such as that between island life and the natural environment their initiatives will have a core theme.