Tourism creates a picture by connecting the dots.
“You can only experience it here” A unique place
Discover the value of the Okitama region, and promote it.
(ISH) Yamagata Arcadia Tourism Bureau (Chairperson, Strategic Council)
Kosuke Suto was born in an old hot spring ryokan, Yamagata The Takinami, in Nanyo City, and now works as the general manager. We asked them about their activities at the Yamagata Arcadia Tourism Bureau, and about what kind of tourism they are aiming for.
ーWhat position do you have in the Tourism Bureau?
I was born here and love Nanyo City. Every day I welcome in new guests to the ryokan and make sure to express how excited I am for their visit. I want them to see how beautiful this area is and to share its wonders. I want the next generation to be able to say “I am glad I was born here” by introducing a new way of sightseeing and a new catch phrase that conveys feeling.
ーRyokan business being your livelihood, what do you see as points for tourism?
Yamagata The Takinami used to focus on how skillfully it could respond to customer requests. The customers were pleased, but we underwent great hardships. When it became difficult to continue the business, I reevaluated the local hot springs, The Takinami. I realized that providing content specialized in Yamagata would be the pillar of the inn. We provide what can only be experienced in Yamagata, to the buildings, food, and customer service. That means that the inn is supported by the community. Tourism should work the same way. By discovering the value of the region and properly calling attention to it, the number of tourists will rise. This will lead to more pride for the area, and that will connect to the next generation. It’s not only for ryokans. It’ll affect the local hot springs, liquor stores, wineries, and restaurants as well. I think it’s important to look at the whole picture.
ーWhat’s your outlook on the bureau, and what do you want to do from now on?
I want others to know more about the mountain my father used to take me to as a child, Jubunichiyama. It’s one of the beautiful sceneries where you can experience the Arcadia of Asia, and I think it would be nice to eat breakfast and dinner there. The tourism bureau is now at the stage of collecting enticing materials of the Okitama region and connecting the people involved. I would like to pursue “tourism” thoroughly while valuing the pride of the people who live here, rather than attracting customers with cheap or fancy tricks.
For example, if someone thought “let’s make the festivals livelier,” then instead of following trends or showing off the appearance of it, they could look into the history of the festival and bring out the true meaning behind the festival. Then the festival would become something truly fun. People who learn of the festival will think “I’m not sure what’s going on, but that looks fun!” or “let’s go check it out,” and then they would go join in. I believe that’s the correct way to do “tourism.”
Born in Nanyo City. He studied abroad to America after graduating from his hometown’s high school. He started training to work in the ryokan business after moving back to Japan. In 2017, he became the general manager of the renovated YAMAGATA THE TAKINAMI.