How about a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. theme park?
"I said come in, don't stand there!"
The Japanese government is trying to get foreign bloggers to do PR for it by inviting them to earthquake- and tsunami-hit areas to write compassionately about the progress being made in reconstructing the ravaged north-east of the country. The Foreign Ministry thought up the idea in a bid to revive the disaster-hit nation’s …
"I said come in, don't stand there!"
...but was the sentence above some kind of slogan? If so, I can propose a few more:
"Come for vacation, stay for rescue attempt!"
"You will glow with happines the next day!"
No, I do not find it actually funny. I really stick up for Japan to crawl back up from the pit they did not dug themselves, however, I do not know any easy, fast and working recipe. And dare I say, nobody does.
Ibaraki / Miyagi are not traditionally on the tourist path. I did visit Sendai and Matsushima back Christmas 2009. Sendai liveable city if you're on the JET programme (however, you'll more likely live somewhere more rural) but nothing to really see as it was bombed flat in WWII. Matsushima? Quite pretty (bloody freezing when I went!) but not going to be on the list if you are a first-time visitor.
Far more important is the strength of the Yen. When I first went to visit my ex-ex (after she moved back to Japan, and wasn't my ex-ex) the Yen/Pound rate was 200:1. Japan was quite reasonable in terms of prices - it is never going to be SE Asia cheap - and the rate held throughout 2008 (travelled 3 occasions). Fast forward end of 2009 and it fell to 140:1. Now it's been hovering at the 120:1 mark.
I used to read an expat focused board on a lot of posters were transferring Yen into Dollars (or currency of their choice) because the rates gave them the opportunity to build up a bit of a nest egg if they decided to make the decision to leave Japan.
I can understand the sentiments of the Japanese Government but the lure of Kyoto (to take the obvious example) and the strength of the Yen means they be better off focused on promoting JET and/or something similar.
Pity. I planned to go back to Japan to finally visit a lot of places that I did not get the opportunity when I was with my ex-ex. Yep, that includes Kanazawa, Kyoto, Osaka, Koya-San, Nara, Himeji, Hiroshima and Miyajima. Maybe as far as Fukuoka. Not going to happen for quite sometime now.
..... nothing to do with the insane debt hovering over the West and the likely collapse of the Euro (mainly because the Germans get pissed off with paying for everyone else so leave). Or the fact to most western Europeans, Japan is like 6000 miles away and the flight per person costs as much as most people spend on a summer family holiday.
tbh virtual debt and the threat of the eurozone mean pretty much nothing to your average tourist on the street. As someone who has been on holiday to Japan before and wants to go again the very thing putting me off is that the Yen is so strong against the Pound. Instead i will be visiting north america or somewhere else in the far east so distance is not such a massive factor for everyone.
Those are the major issues. A strong currency combined with a very high cost of living when you get there makes Japan a once-in-a-lifetime holiday for most tourists. Having some random blogger telling me how great it is to have a holiday in Japan isn't going to help me get there...
I actually have been to Tokyo once, but it was a work trip, and if you're looking for something worse than never visiting a place you always wanted to, then I can offer the experience of actually visiting a place you've always wanted to, and then having to spend all your time in meetings. Against that, our Japanese colleagues did bring us out (to some really good places that as a tourist, I'd never have discovered) in the evenings, but it still remained a work trip.
Knowing my luck, I'll have the ticket booked, and then Godzilla will wake up again and flatten the place...
I'm also put off by the exchange rate. I spent a couple of months there in 2008 and found it as cheap as the UK. Petrol was cheaper, even though they have no oil whatsover.
If they gave me free flights I'd be there like a shot, regardless, though.
Ultimately one of the costs, flights or exchange rate, will have to change if they want tourists.