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Research Faculty of Media and Communication, Hokkaido University

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JSPS Grant “Contents Tourism”

I have received a research grant from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) for a project titled “International Comparative Research on the Spreading and Reception of Culture through Contents Tourism”. The project is co-coordinated by Professor Takayoshi Yamamura in the Center for Advanced Tourism Studies at Hokkaido University. This is a major grant (Kiban A, 20-50 million yen category) and the biggest JSPS grant awarded in Japan for tourism research in 2014. This open access page provides the latest information on the progress and outputs of the research project for the general public. See also the open access International Journal of Contents Tourism which is run as part of the grant project.

A list of publications by project members is here.

A restricted page (project members only) is here.



Project Members

Project Leader (Daihyo): Philip Seaton (Hokkaido University)

Project Co-Leader (Buntansha): Takayoshi Yamamura (Hokkaido University)

Group Members (Buntansha*, alphabetical order): Chieko Iwashita (Takasaki Shoka University), Kyungjae Jang (Hokkaido University), Shinobu Myoki (Tohoku University), Katsuyuki Nishikawa (Hokkaido University), Takeshi Okamoto (Nara Prefectural University), Akiko Sugawa-Shimada (Yokohama National University), Richard Siddle (Hokkaido University), Yoshihiro Yamada (Hokkaido University)

Group Members (Kyoryokusha*, alphabetical order): Sue Beeton (William Angliss Institute), Karl Ian Cheng Chua (Ateneo de Manila University), Millie Creighton (University of British Columbia), Nicky van Es (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Thomas McAuley (University of Sheffield), Stijn Reijnders (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Clothilde Sabre (JSPS Postdoc, Hokkaido University), Zhang Tianxin (Peking University)

* Buntansha (co-researchers) are people with full-time positions in the Japanese university system. Kyoryokusha (collaborators) do not work full-time at a Japanese university.

Main Research Areas

The project has four main research areas, all of which should generate a string of publications and research outputs.

1) Film and Contents Tourism in Hokkaido: a detailed investigation into how “contents” fit into Hokkaido’s tourism sector.

2) Contents Tourism Across Japan: case studies from across the nation of how popular culture contents generate tourism.

3) Japanese Popular Culture Abroad: surveys of the major events (such as Japan Expo in Paris) presenting Japanese popular culture to a non-Japanese audience.

4) Contents Tourism in International Context: using the concept of “contents” to analyse tourist behaviour without any specific Japanese context.

Planned Research Activities in Academic Year 2017

1) Another journal special edition has been negotiated with a major international journal. Authors are writing up their papers for submission in the spring of 2017. Publication should be in late 2018.

2) The final surveys at pop culture events will be carried out. Then the results will be written up for submission to a major tourism studies journal.

3) Work will continue on the expansion and development of the International Journal of Contents Tourism. There are plans to present the results of the Toyako Manga Anime Festa class/fieldwork during this year.

4) There are no major plans to organize symposiums or submit a panel presentation, although the team plans to be represented at the TTRA Asia-Pacific Conference in Hong Kong in December 2017. Researchers are concentrating on writing up their research and making presentations individually. Energy is being saved for the last year of the project in 2018-2019!

Completed Research Activities in Academic Year 2016

1) Publications: The year was dominated by work on the first monograph from the project, Contents Tourism in Japan: Pilgrimage to “Sacred Sites” of Popular Culture, which has now been published by Cambria Press (co-authored by Philip Seaton, Takayoshi Yamamura, Akiko Sugawa-Shimada and Kyungjae Jang). The book was launched at a Conference at UC Berkeley on 10-11 March 2017. The Japan Forum special edition (published in 2015) was released as a book titled Japanese Popular Culture and Contents Tourism (edited by Seaton and Yamamura). Contents tourism has a prominent position in Sue Beeton’s Film-Induced Tourism, 2nd edition.

2) Presentations: The research group organized two major major symposiums: one in Nanto city (Toyama) in May 2016 together with PARUS (Produce Area Research & Utility Support Center) and Nanto city government; and a session as part of the British Association for Japanese Studies (Japan Branch) mini-conference on 29-31 July 2016. Conference presentations by members included a panel at the Joint East Asian Studies Conference (Seaton, Yamamura, Sugawa-Shimada, Jang) and an event as part of the TTRA Asia-Pacific Chapter Conference in Dubai in December 2016 (Yamamura). Seaton was on sabbatical from October 2016 to March 2017 and gave talks on contents tourism topics at non-project events at Cardiff University (11 November 2016), Cambridge University (18 November 2016) and Doshisha Women’s University (21 January 2017). Yamamura, Sugawa-Shimada, Shinobu Myoki and Jang went to UC Berkeley for a conference organized by Nelson Graburn, where the monograph was launched.

3) Fieldwork: Project members continued to do fieldwork for their individual contributions to the project. The pop culture event survey was carried out at Hyper Japan (London), Event name (USA), and Event name (USA). During his sabbatical, Seaton undertook fieldwork in the Seto Inland Sea area, Kyushu and at Tokyo Disneyland/Universal Studios. During September, Seaton, Yamamura, Sugawa-Shimada and Jang combined their panel presentation at JEASC with fieldwork relating to Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, the Beatles, Natsume Soseki, and Jane Austen.

4) International Journal of Contents Tourism: During its first year (2016, Vol. 1), the journal published one research article, three research notes and a book review. In March 2017, the print version of Volume 1 of the journal was published. IJCT-Vol.1 2016

5) Inviting Visiting Researchers: One researcher (Millie Creighton, University of British Columbia) was invited to Japan to do fieldwork on contents tourism relating to art festivals and architecture. Preliminary results were presented at the conference at UC Berkeley in March 2017.

6) Individual Research: A number of articles were completed and are now accepted for publication or in press. Forthcoming articles include chapters in the edited volumes Film Tourism in Asia (Beeton and Seaton) and The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Japan (Yamamura and Seaton).

7) Links with Teaching: Yamamura and Seaton once again led an intensive course (2 credits) in Pop Culture Event Management at the Toyako Manga Anime Festa in Hokkaido (June 2016). This introduces the research findings from the project into the curriculum at Hokkaido University (particularly the Modern Japanese Studies Program).

Completed Research Activities in Academic Year 2015

1) Publications: The proceedings of a symposium held on 15-16 March 2015 were published in the Centre for Advanced Tourism Studies Sensho Series. Project member Okamoto Takeshi published a book titled Contents Tourism Research (in Japanese). Two research notes were published on the International Journal of Contents TourismSee the publications page for full details.

2) Presentations: Ongoing research findings were presented at the following conferences: Philip Seaton at the Japan Studies Association of Canada in Tokyo (May 2015); Sue Beeton, Philip Seaton, Takayoshi Yamamura and Akiko Sugawa-Shimada did the plenary session at the TTRA (Asia-Pacific Chapter) conference in Tokyo (December 2015); Philip Seaton did a three-lecture tour of Canada (sponsored by the Japan Foundation) in Toronto, Waterloo and Vancouver (March 2016, see the event report here).

3) Fieldwork and Book Writing: A book contract was signed in May 2015 with a major US publisher to publish the first monograph from the project (co-authored by Philip Seaton, Takayoshi Yamamura, Akiko Sugawa-Shimada and Kyungjae Jang). Fieldwork and writing energies have been directed towards successful completion of that manuscript (due date 31 May 2016).

4) Fieldwork at Pop Culture Events: Fieldwork was conducted at Japanese pop culture events in London (July 2015), San Francisco (July 2015), Poznan (October 2015), Lucca (October 2015). This is part of an ongoing survey of various events around the world. The results of the fieldwork at Japanicon 2015 were published on the International Journal of Contents Tourism.

5) Inviting Visiting Researchers: Two researchers (Thomas McAuley of Sheffield University and Michele M. Mason of the University of Maryland) were invited to Japan to do fieldwork on contents tourism. Their research findings have been published on the International Journal of Contents Tourism.

6) Journal Launch: The International Journal of Contents Tourism was successfully launched and has published a number of postcards and its first articles. The volume of publications here will be greatly expanded in coming years.

7) Individual Research Activities: All members continued their individual research activities and fieldwork.

8) Links with Teaching: Takayoshi Yamamura and Philip Seaton led an intensive course (2 credits) in Pop Culture Event Management at the Toyako Manga Anime Festa in Hokkaido (June 2015). This introduces the research findings from the project into the curriculum at Hokkaido University (particularly the Modern Japanese Studies Program).

Completed Research Activities in Academic Year 2014

1) Publications: The principal publications that appeared during the year were the Japan Forum special issue “Japanese Popular Culture and Contents Tourism” and the IMC research report The Theory and Practice of Contents TourismSee the publications page for full details.

2) Presentations: Initial research findings were presented at the following international conferences: Philip Seaton and Sue Beeton at the Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) conference in Bruges (June 2014); Sue Beeton at the New Zealand Tourism and Hospitality Research Conference (December 2014); Philip Seaton, Takayoshi Yamamura, Akiko Sugawa-Shimada and Kyungjae Jang at the Association of Asian Studies conference in Chicago (March 2015).

3) Symposium: We held a 2-day symposium at Hokkaido University on 15-16 March 2015 as part of the Center for Advanced Tourism Studies symposium series. It was attended by about 50 people and papers were presented by project members Takayoshi Yamamura, Philip Seaton, Kyungjae Jang, Chieko Iwashita, Shinobu Myoki and other invited speakers.

4) Survey: A questionnaire was sent to all the municipalities in Hokkaido asking them about their contents tourism strategies and experiences. Initial results were processed.

5) Survey: A pilot survey of fans’ travel behaviour was conducted at Japan Expo (Paris) in July 2014 by Clothilde Sabre and Akiko Sugawa-Shimada.

6) Meeting: On 24 September 2014, a meeting for project members was held at the Tokyo office of Hokkaido University. It was attended by Philip Seaton, Takayoshi Yamamura, Akiko Sugawa-Shimada, Sue Beeton, Kyungjae Jang, Clothilde Sabre and Nicky van Es. We planned future projects and conducted joint fieldwork at the Ghibli Museum on 25 September.

7) Website Construction: We built the website of the International Journal of Contents Tourism. This is scheduled to go online in April 2015.

8) Fieldwork: Individual group members conducted fieldwork in Kochi/Ehime (Philip Seaton), Yamagata (Akiko Sugawa-Shimada), Tokyo (Takayoshi Yamamura), Tokyo/Osaka (Sue Beeton), Osaka/Hiroshima (Kyungjae Jang) and Yoichi (Philip Seaton and Kyungjae Jang).