Don’t wait on others, take the first step yourself.
Smooth out the rough gems The Okitama region is a land of treasure
Pile each one up Promote the area
(ISH) Yamagata Arcadia Tourism Bureau (Chairperson, Strategic Council)
Morihiro Horie was born in Iide. After graduating from Tohoku University, he went abroad to Sweden for skiing. He returned back to his hometown and now manages Slow Village in Iide and Six Dining in Nanyo City. We asked the current member of Yamagata Arcadia Tourism Bureau his thoughts about his hometown and the bureau.
ーWhat are Iide Town’s charms?
I think it is a place that has the power to keep living on. At first glance it isn’t as lively as it used to be. The number of shops and people are decreasing. It’s probably even thought to be the fastest dying town in the Okitama region. But in Tokyo when it snows, all traffic comes to a stop and life gets difficult, while in Iide even with heavy snowfall the town doesn’t stop. It’s most likely because they know the blessings nature gives them, as well as the difficulty. I’ve experienced how this place has the ability to give you a reason to keep living.
ーWhat activities do you do to promote this area?
I took on the Iide canoe club from my seniors and manage the canoe trips out to the submerged forest in Shirakawa lake. In addition, I offer French cuisine made from seasonal ingredients from the region at the restaurant Six Dining in Nanyo City.
ーWhat’s your aim with these wide range of activities?
The canoeing is for tourism, but I also want the local people to experience it first-hand so they become aware of the value of where they live. I believe we have to experience it ourselves before we can truly promote it to others.
At the restaurant, for example, we have specialty goods such as ‘Yukimuro Potatoes.’ Yukimuro means ‘snow room’. It’s a potato that has been stored in a snow room for up to 3 months or more to allow sweet flavors to build. By offering these to restaurants in Akayu City, the reputation of these potatoes as an ingredient increases and in turn becomes valuable to the town.
Whether it be canoeing or restaurants, I think promoting in an easy-to-understand fashion is important. Beautiful scenery and delicious foods are rough gems. I think it’s necessary for someone to find value in the rough stones by brushing them up. And for the first step, I am developing what I can from the perspective of someone who has left their hometown.
ーWhat are your expectations for Arcadia Tourism Bureau?
I’ve been able to connect with people through this organization I would have otherwise never met. There are signs that new things will happen as a result of the gathering of like-minded people. However, I feel there are still formalities in place, as well as difficulty in getting things in motion. Perhaps it’ll be difficult to change at once, but we, the members of this organization, hold expectations that changing one thing at a time will lead to a bigger change.
Born in Iide Town in 1981. He studied abroad in Sweden after graduating from Tohoku University. He competed as a ski athlete while working. Currently, he is developing businesses in his hometown. He is the CEO of H&Company.