Статьи Скотта Гормана (Scott Gorman)

January 13, 2009

Saying Mata Neh, Not Sayonara

As I prepared this farewell article, the people at the Town Hall asked me to write my thoughts about the future of the town, proposals for change or new methods, recommendations for the future. I want to do as I was asked, but this is hard. Who am I to make any proposals? What do I know? I am like a child, just beginning to walk, trying out new language, poking and prodding things with little understanding.

But I will try.

I hope that the town will make a strong effort to promote low-impact, respectful tourism, for small groups from Japan and the world outside. The loose label for such activities is “eco-tourism,” the idea being to share the natural wonders without harming them in the process. I have traveled around many parts of Japan. I have visited Hiroshima, Utsunomiya, been in Tokyo many times, been in Osaka and Kyoto. There are wonders in all these places, and they are well known. But most people know little or nothing about the wonders of Akita-ken and Kisakata-machi, especially those overseas. With the economy hurting, with people losing jobs, I think the people of Kisakata can help preserve their way of life and the rural splendor of the surroundings by making it easy for people to visit here, where they will come away with joy and a good impression of the people, and money will flow into the local economy. Good very specific
English and Russian guidebooks, along with those with other languages, could help. So could an effort to explain to people through newspaper articles and ads just how special this place is.

Now, that doesn’t mean change or make a theme park of this place, just share it with visitors for a few days or weeks at a time. Create set tours and offer local guides. Sponsor farm tours and fishing trips and mountain climbing. It is a clean industry; no factories must be built, no natural resources destroyed. On the contrary, this sort of modest tourism becomes a motivation for preservation. In cities close to here, “big box” stores and ugly buildings are taking over the farm fields and spoiling the views. It would be a shame to let it happen here.

I think that since English is for better or worse becoming the international language of business and culture that even more emphasis must be made to make its learning available to every citizen of Kisakata who wants to see the town thrive in the future. There are wonderful people who have already been making such efforts for many years, and I deeply respect them. But even more could be done. Allow those with English language skills to lead other citizens into this learning. They have experience and great knowledge, and these should be utilized fully.

Finally, I encourage the citizens of Kisakata to build on the strong efforts already made to connect this town to other places all over the world. The relationships with those in the USA, in Rumania and China, are so important. Let there be more such relationships. Get more people involved and spread the work around. Invite the input of young people into planning these new or strengthened efforts, for of course they are the ones that matter in the future..

The Governor and Assembly of Akita did a wise thing recently when they approved the plan to take over the Minnesota State University campus in Yuwa, which is closing, and turn it into a new international university run by and for the people of Akita. It was said at a meeting to encourage this that the people in this area could not turn to Tokyo for help in development of the local economy and culture as a part of the greater world and must instead take these matters into their own hands. I couldn’t agree more. In a world shrinking by the moment, where information and ideas fly so fast, this region cannot afford to be left behind or let outsiders (like me) dictate the future. The time for real action and sound planning is now.

OK, now I’m off my soapbox, have stepped away from the megaphone. In closing I just want to say that while I knew my time here would be a positive experience, I could never have imagined how much I have learned and how well treated I have been. I thank each and every one of you, from the heart, and promise to return some day, for a time, if you will have me.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16