3.3 billion yen economic effect… Why “Amachan,” the originator of “location tourism,” is enjoying a renewed popularity after 10 years since its first broadcast? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

3.3 billion yen economic effect… Why “Amachan,” the originator of “location tourism,” is enjoying a renewed popularity after 10 years since its first broadcast?

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Former “Reina Noh” aka “Non” played the heroine in the NHK morning drama “Amachan

The NHK BS Premium morning drama “Amachan” is currently being rebroadcast. Drama fans are not the only ones who are happy to see the return of this nationally popular drama after a 10-year absence.

The drama, written by Kankuro Kudo, was broadcast two years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the word “jee-jee-jee” that appeared in the drama won that year’s “Ryu-Yuwa Taisho” (the most popular word in Japan). When the drama began airing, 1.16 million tourists came to Kuji City in Iwate Prefecture alone to make a pilgrimage to the “holy land.

The Kosode Ama Center, where the drama was set, was flooded with 200,000 “Amachan” fans, 40 times the number of the previous year. According to estimates by the Iwate Economic Research Institute, the economic effect in the prefecture was approximately 3.3 billion yen. This popularity is probably the highest in the history of morning dramas.

Moreover, even after the drama’s broadcast, there is no end to the number of repeat visitors, and in 2005, four years later, nearly one million tourists visited the area. While “pilgrimages to sacred places” for many morning dramas and historical dramas are transitory, why was “Amachan” able to maintain its popularity even after its broadcast? The secret lies in “location tourism.

Location tourism” is the process of creating a support system for filming in order to make the most of the local name recognition gained from movies, TV dramas, and information programs, to enhance tourism resources, and to attract fans to the area. Kuji City and four surrounding towns and villages established the Kuji City-Hokusanriku Amachan Tourism Promotion Council to promote location tourism in the wake of “Amachan.

Thanks to their efforts, nearly 500 dramas, movies, information programs, and other visual productions have been decided after the broadcast of “Amachan. The continuous efforts and results are said to be a model for “location tourism” in Japan.

However, the road to “Amachan’s” “pilgrimage to the holy land” is not an easy one.

From Tokyo, take the Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train and head north for three hours. From Hachinohe Station, transfer to the JR Hachinohe Line for a two-hour ride down the Sanriku Coast to Kuji Station, the gateway to the “Land of Jee-jee-jee”. Standing in front of the station, the Kuji Ekimae Department Store, which used to house the Kita Sanriku Tourist Association, welcomes you in front of the fountain plaza.

In the unoccupied building, the familiar triple billboards of “Kita no Ama”, “Kita Sanriku Railway”, and “Memories of Tidal Wave” invite us to the world of “Amachan”. When we go to the shopping street, we can see many “Ama-e” paintings on the shutters as they were in those days. Don’t forget to try the famous egg sandwich at “Cafe Mocha,” which was the model for “Cafe Rias.

At the time of the broadcast, the Kosode Haenye Center was flooded with more than 50,000 tourists during the Haenye Festival in summer and the Autumn Festival. The fact that “Amachan” has been on-air in many countries around the world has also attracted many foreign tourists.

The show is often replayed in Taiwan, which is particularly pro-Japanese, and the road to Kosode Beach was widened to allow tourist buses to pass through for Taiwanese fans who fly between Taipei and Hanamaki, Iwate, to make a “pilgrimage to the holy land.

The Sanriku Railway is an indispensable part of the “pilgrimage to the sacred places” of “Amachan. The “sea urchin bowl” that Natsupappa (Nobuko Miyamoto) used to make was purchased at the Sanriku Riasutei restaurant at Kuji Station, and the passengers boarded the Sanriku Railway. While enjoying the “sea urchin bento,” a bowl of rice cooked in sea urchin broth and covered with steamed sea urchins from Sanriku, the passengers enjoy the view of the Rias coastline from Miyako, Kamaishi, and Mori (Ofunato).

You can also get off at Horiuchi Station, the nearest station to Sodegahama Beach. You can also enjoy the “Mamebu-jiru,” a delicate food that is either a side dish or a snack, at the Kosode Haenjo Center, and recall famous scenes from the drama while strolling around the sacred site of the “Northern Limit Haenjo,” surrounded by wild and strange rocks. This is a moment of bliss for fans.

New initiatives are underway in the local area to accommodate such fans.

In April, “Michi-no-Eki” (roadside stations) operated by the four municipalities opened. In addition, the “Sanriku Genki GoGo” train, wrapped with “Amae” for a year from April 15, is in service! GoGo” train is also in operation. This train was made possible by “Amachan” fans who raised approximately 7.9 million yen through crowdfunding.

The “Night Jungle Train,” which runs at night, the “Premium Lunch Train” in spring and fall, and the “Kotatsu Train,” the “New Year’s Eve Train,” and the “Winter Holiday Free Study Train” in winter, are just a few examples of the many projects that are being planned in the “Ozashiki Train” where the live performance of “Memories of Tidal Wave” took place. In winter, the “Kotatsu Train,” the “New Year’s Eve Train,” and the “Winter Holiday Free Study Train” are expected to offer a wide variety of hospitality services.

(The above-mentioned local tourism association official) Will “Amachan,” which is being rebroadcast for the first time in 10 years, generate further economic effects? Let’s see how it does.

  • Text Ukon Shima (Broadcaster and video producer)

    He is involved in program production in a wide range of genres, including variety, news, and sports programs. He has also planned and published many books on female TV announcers, idols, and the TV industry. While working on documentary programs, he became interested in history and recently published "Ieyasu was dead in Sekigahara" (Takeshobo Shinsho). She is also publishing the e-book series "Ibun Chakurezuregusa.

  • PHOTO Shu Nishihara

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