A so-called “traveler” riding on a Kintetsu train is looking forward to meeting local people.
Their destination is a 10-minute walk from Kintetsu Yamato-kamiichi Station.
In July 2019, “TENJIKU Yoshino” was born in the Kamiichi area of Yoshino Town
The Yoshino Government Office and SAGOJO, Inc. have collaborated to set up a “new travel system that allows people to stay in Yoshino free of charge”.
In Yoshino Town, the population is declining and one in two people are 65 years of age or older.
This is an effort to get people interested in Yoshino through understanding the area and interacting with local people, in the hope that they eventually become fans of the area.
Those who are “interested in more than just sightseeing, (but don’t necessarily want to move here), and who can make some contribution for Yoshino” are known as the “relationship population/community.” Concentrated efforts to increase members of this community are becoming more active in Yoshino.
Travelers can stay at “TENJIKU Yoshino” for 2-5 nights per stay (from the second time, the period of stay increases up to 1 month). They can have free time and choose a local job (a “Sago Job”) that they want to do. A local host will then firmly support the traveler.
So what exactly is a “Sago Job”?
It is not that interesting to just stay somewhere for free, right?
A “Sago Job” consists of helping local people for 2-3 hours while also interacting with them.
Sago Jobs include the following:
- Promote the attractive points of Yoshino (SNS)
- I.Y. (flooring, plastering, etc.)
- Guest house cleaning assistance
- Helping the launch of local events such as “Tateyama” and “floating lanterns”
- Shiitake mushroom harvesting
- Create event flyers
- Cleaning, event assistance and participation in local temple’s activities
- Helping the local cafeteria
- Farm work (rice reaping, harvesting, etc.)
- Teaching short lessons for after-school childcare classes
- Supporting local community events
- Participating in events in Yoshinoyama
- Guesthouse Sankiro event assistance
- Sake brewery tours
- Create café cards
- Activities related to Japanese paper making
- Helping with farm work
Over the past half year, 35 travelers from all over Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Okinawa, have visited Yoshino. One woman in her twenties from Tokyo has already visited Yoshino three times and formed a feeling of attachment to the people of Yoshino.
Even In Tokyo, “TENJIKU Yoshino Gathering” events are being held. The people of Yoshino are very grateful for all of the interest among the travelers. In fact, travelers have become so well-known that locals say hello to them when they are guided around Yoshino.
This program has received a lot of attention and has been discussed on TV, newspapers, and Yahoo! Topics.
People who come to Yoshino as travelers are often unmarried folks in their 20s and 30s and a large number are women.
In addition, many work in creative fields that are not restricted by location, such as photography, design, and writing.
According to answers taken from a questionnaire given to participants at TENJIKU Yoshino, 78.9% of them were “very satisfied”, 21.1% were “satisfied”, and 100% of them answered “I want to visit again”!
What is the secret of this satisfaction?
The answer is in meeting with local people.
Here are some testimonials taken directly from traveler surveys:
“The people of Yoshino were really warm and nice to me. As someone whose body and heart are often exhausted by life in Tokyo, it was refreshing to come here. Since I could stay for a long time, I was able to interact with the people of Yoshino every day. When I was running in the morning, a local who knew that I liked alcohol asked me if I wanted a beer or wanted to go to an event. I was introduced to the area and learned about various agricultural products, the Japanese cedar culture in Yoshino, local sake, land, and the warmth of the people. I’m really happy to have a place like this as a second home. I ate and drank a lot and enjoyed various valuable experiences. When I go to Yoshino again, I want to say ‘I’m home.’ “
(20s, Tokyo, female, office worker)
The following is a testimonial from a local person about TENJIKU:
“When I wasn’t familiar with TENJIKU, I was worried that young people might take my job,” but now I am grateful that many people come and go in the short term and help out at events and restaurants. It would be great if people in Yoshino Town became more aware of TENJIKU and made the local area a comfortable place for everyone.“
The satisfaction of the people interacting with the travelers is generally high. With the help of travelers, regular gatherings with locals are held, increasing communication between local people as well.
The best part of TENJIKU Yoshino is interaction!
Travelers also participate in occasional meetings with local people.
Why don’t you go on a journey to meet people that you may never meet during ordinary sightseeing?
For more information on what a day is like in Yoshino for a traveler, see the article entitled “A Day in the Life of a Traveler in Yoshino.”
As TENJIKU Yoshino is very popular, you should try and make a reservation as early as possible.
We look forward to welcoming everyone!