- 彦根論叢 (ISSN:03875989)
- no.405, pp.76-90, 2015-09
For fundamentalists who believe that tourism is a religious act in pursuit of authenticity, and that tourist destinations should be limited only to authentic places, all imitations with no hint of authenticity should be cast aside. They view most tourism resources as valueless copies of others, cross out one spot after another, and conclude that the only places in the world worth visiting are sites associated with the cradle of civilization. Judging from analyses of tourism in Japan from the early to late modern periods, however, I feel that narrowing down the purpose of tourism to authenticity alone is unrealistic. Amusement parks that emerged in and after the Meiji period of modernization (1868–1912), for instance, were in fact evolved versions of freak show huts from the early modern period, gathering a variety of imitations that offered visitors the fun, simulated experience of going on a real trip. Another typical example is Nara Dreamland, which was built for people who could not afford to travel far across the sea to the United States. With demand lasting into the late modern period for cheap "false" destinations closer to home as a substitute for "true" ones far away, this paper sheds light on examples of imitations that borrow names from famous scenic sites and are received favorably by the public. In some instances, the copying of tourist destination names begins when residents and travelers recognize similarities between a familiar place and a famous scenic site. The image grows until the copied name is written in a travel journal or used as a station name, and in the end the name takes root. In other instances, copying occurs when a scholar, landscape architect, writer, or journalist's impressions of a place are printed and circulated. In this day and age, these conventional scenarios are overshadowed by channels ranging from the mass media to the Internet giving rise to the emulation of overseas place names. The motivation for copying is a strong admiration for the original and the originator. But whereas up to the early modern period this motivation was based on pure faith, beyond the late modern period it changed to the pursuit of commercial profit, and eventually to following successful business models. How well a copied place name is received varies by region. Sometimes, one case of copying can provoke a chain reaction. The names of many beaches around the Chita Peninsula in Aichi Prefecture, for example, are copies of other place names. Imitation entails some sense of guilt, and copiers often end up making excuses to justify the act. Some examples of excuse are proximity to and closeness with the original place, similarity between landscapes, permission from the originator, use of the same material as the original, friendly relations with the originator, and naming by a third party of authority. There are also different levels of copying, starting with a simple appellative or a nickname, going on to the common name of a facility, company, station, or neighborhood, then to official place name, and culminating in the formal name of a municipality. The relationship between copier and community varies as well. Imitation can be agreed upon by all, or endorsed and established; met with silent approval, disagreement, or objection; or face requests for renaming or a return to the former name. Cheap copies that belittle the area's history and culture or are based on poor reasoning tend to be unsuccessful at gaining understanding from the residents and fail to take root. Some station names are soon restored to their original place names because of opposition, and other names disappear from the residents' memory altogether. On the contrary, imitations that are to some degree rational or win the residents' approval tend to endure. One example is Maihama, the home of Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu City, Chiba, which derives from Miami Beach, Florida, home to Disneyworld. Thanks to the absence of a previous name – Maihama is built on reclaimed land – and the presence of an American amusement park, very few opposed to the imitation of a foreign place name. Evaluating emulation is difficult, since a thing cannot be disregarded simply because it is "false." The Hiraizumi culture that took root and blossomed in the Tohoku region, for example, is looked down on by quite a number of scholars who see it as a mere transplant of the aristocratic culture of Kyoto. And even Kyoto, which we Japanese regard as the origin of Hiraizumi, is an imitation of China in terms of city planning. Tokyo is the originator of a great number of place names copied everywhere today, such as Ginza. But in the early premodern Edo period (1603–1868), this Tokyo was yet another copier that admired and imitated originals from the Kyoto-Ohmi area, like Mt. Hiei and Lake Biwa. Kyoto itself, although home to an ample number of authentic temples and shrines, has its share of imitation: the Omuro Pilgrimage of 88 Temples, a miniature version of the Shikoku Pilgrimage of 88 Temples. This was created by the religious leader of Ninnaji Temple in the Edo period, when traveling to the remote island of Shikoku was difficult. He brought sand from all 88 temples in Shikoku, buried it in the mountain in Kyoto, built 88 halls, and completed a "theme park" where people could make a pilgrimage in just two hours. Since the route in Kyoto served to ease the homesickness of immigrants from Shikoku, there were virtually no protests from originator about the imitation. Even today, people who visit Ninnaji every morning know the place is "false," but they enjoy the remarkable mini course and feel as refreshed as if they undertook a "true" journey in Shikoku. The Omuro site may be an imitation, but it is not the work of commercial developers. It was built openly by an authentic religious figure in temple grounds now designated a World Heritage site, calling out for worshippers to come. This represents "true" and "false" coexisting without conflict, where both "original" and "imitation" continue to play a significant role in their own right.