I had no idea that when I started thinking about how tourism was being, and could and should be, integrated into diversification strategies of Nordic Arctic fishing communities that I would end up in Japan visiting Japanese Arctic researchers and building ties to study how Japanese tourists might use Arctic marine resources in their Nordic tourism, and at home.
Yet here I am, traveling with colleague Chris Horbel to Kobe and Hokkaido Universities to do just that. Japanese interests in the Arctic are broad, including among other concerns the major Arctic industries of shipping, oil and gas, minerals, fisheries and tourism; the word cloud here sums up the 2015 Japanese Arctic Policy document:
Starting at Kobe University, we presented at the Polar Cooperation Research Centre, led by Akiho Shibata, where the international group was, among other things, preparing young researchers for presentations at the upcoming Polar Law Symposium in Tasmania.
The group is also preparing to host next year’s Polar Law Symposium, and we had the distinct privilege of being the guinea pigs for the conference dinner, which will take place in the Kobe Sake distillery district and certainly be a delicious one to remember.
Our Kobe visit also included a bit of research into how locals use Arctic and sub-Arctic crabs – snow crab seems to be the crab of choice in Kobe. As you may have noticed, my colleagues and I have been looking into the social, ecological and economic effects of the snow and red king crab invasions in the Nordic Arctic – and there has been an increasing tourism angle involved, particularly for the red king crab. The crab now even has ‘tourism quota’ set aside for tourist experiences like the King Crab Safari or even going scuba diving for the crab. And, right there, you have a significant connection between the ongoing invasive crab research and the sustainable tourism research — how do we use marine resources for community well-being and development?
Next up: Hokkaido, Japan’s Winter Island.