Kanko-ken (sightseeing areas) (観光圏)
Kanko-ken (sightseeing areas) are areas (each of which is located in one prefecture or multiple prefectures in Japan), being organized for tourism; they are designated by the Japan Tourism Agency, an extra-ministerial bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan, to develop sightseeing areas in order to distinguish Japan as a tourism nation and promote tourists' visits and extended stays. Sightseeing areas are also in concert with the "Visit Japan" campaign.
The conventional development of tourism addressed only by a narrow region called kanko-chi (tourist site) is said to pose limitations to the achievement of objectives, and therefore the areas called Kanko-ken are arranged to promote an individual approach exerting the originality and ingenuity of the area referred to as a "wide area" in a comprehensive, integrated manner. The aim is that the nation or government formulates the basic policy, has talks with the people involved in the area, works with relevant companies (including tourism operators) on the things necessary for preparation of the plan for the development of sightseeing area by the local government such as the municipalities or prefectures and the implementation of its development project, and promotes the development of that area.
This is based on 'Act on Promotion of Tourists' Visit and Stay Through Development of Tourism Areas (Act No. 39 of May 23, 2008),' and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism takes the initiative from the standpoint of the government. The area aiming toward the development and implementation of a sightseeing area applies to the ministry having jurisdiction over the business in question for such a designation. Once the area is designated, some exceptions are applied and in some cases a subsidy is also granted.
Sixteen areas were designated on October 3, 2008, and 14 areas on April 22, 2009.
Examples of support
Once the plan for the development of a sightseeing area is approved, the following means of support are provided for the project:
Subsidization pertaining to projects that are expected to be effective or fruitful in promoting tourists' visit and stays (up to 40% of subsidy rate)
Exceptions to the Travel Agency Act regarding sales of landing-type travel commodities
Easing of procedures in the relevant laws and regulations for transportation pertaining to the introduction of discount tickets for tours
Fiscal investment and lending for capital investment pertaining to accommodations, etc.
Approved sightseeing areas
Jurisdictional areas designated by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the Japan Tourism Agency, the names of the areas and their subtitles, themes or catch-phrases (some of which are undecided or unknown).
Furano and Biei wide sightseeing area: 'Trip like short living; Road to Pastoral Holidays'
Shiretoko sightseeing area: 'Trip to invite the more unknown area'
Sapporo wide sightseeing area: 'Welcome to the Sapporo sightseeing area! It's not only for the city person but also for the nature person.'
New trip to Aomori, Lake Towada wide sightseeing area:
Glittering Sea of Japan Uetsu sightseeing area: 'Sea of Japan, gods of mountains, voyage by ship and hospitality through meals'
Date (dandy) wide sightseeing area: 'Travel with stay in slow life and dandy time'
Aizu and Yonezawa district sightseeing area: 'Unchanged warmth mind and variety of joys - Aizu and Yonezawa thousand-cloister walkway'
Fukushima sightseeing area: 'Kind and warm mind of nature'
Nikko sightseeing area:
Mito Hitachi sightseeing area: 'Your sky and soil'
South Boso district sightseeing area: 'Family travel time; Weaving of satoumi and satoyama "South Boso communication roads"'
Snow-country sightseeing area: 'Immediate access to another world. You'll certainly want to visit the snow country again!'
Toyama Bay, Kurobe Gorge and Ecchu Niikawa sightseeing area:
Noto Peninsula sightseeing area:
Fukui and Sakai wide sightseeing area:
Mt. Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes sightseeing area: 'Promotion program for creating an attractive area for staying and repeated visits by making full use of the nature and culture of world-class Fuji'
Lake Hamana sightseeing area:
Ise-Shima district sightseeing area: 'Creating re-asu (re-tomorrow, rias coast) Ise-Shima coast'
Lake Biwa and Omi road sightseeing area:
A sightseeing area centered on the sacred site of Kumano for healing and revival: 'Healthy mind, good walking, healthy bath and healthy food'
Awaji-shima Island sightseeing area: 'Welcome home to the country of mythology--Awaji-shima Island.'
Sanin cultural sightseeing area: 'Impressed tour connecting by fate'
Hiroshima, Miyajima and Iwakuni district sightseeing area: 'Project for developing an international tourism zone to travel around "Hiroshima, Miyajima and Iwakuni of Three Arrows"'
West Awa sightseeing area: 'Creation of an affluent time to live in the original Japanese landscape decorated with history and tradition'
Shimanto and Ashizuri area (Hata district) sightseeing area:
Kyushu and Okinawa
Hirado, Sasebo and Saikai extended-stay sightseeing area: 'Journey in the West, starting from the sea'
Unzen-Amakusa sightseeing area:
New East Kyushu sightseeing area: 'Journey of spring and small bay in New East Kyushu, like the Travels of Marco Polo'
Aso Kuju sightseeing area: 'Walking in winds, meeting with light, and impression of various colors; Pleasant time and space in Aso and Kuju'