- The Human Geographical Society of Japan
- 人文地理 (ISSN:00187216)
- vol.50, no.4, pp.340-362, 1998-08-28 (Released:2009-04-28)
What do tourists experience in travel? What is the meaning of contemporary tourism? These questions have been proposed since the mid 1970's by geographers, anthropologists, and psychologists of tourism in the English-speaking world. Most of the studies attempt to verify MacCanell's theory of authenticity, Turner's process of communitas or Cohen's systematic typology of tourist experience. Are these hypothesis also applicable to the Japanese contemporary tourist experience?The popular travel monthly“Tabi”proves an indispensable source concerning Japanese tourism. Each edition contains travel essays contributed by readers. I compared 155 travel writings in“Tabi”from 1992 to 1995 with the contributors ranging from the young to the aged.In the first analysis, I examined three hypothesis. Turner's communitas was verified only in 3 essays; MacCanell's authenticity in 25 essays; and Cohen's typology in 47 essays. These results show that the existing models are insufficient to explain the Japanese tourist experience.In the second analysis, I tried to treat the 155 travel narratives without hypothesis. Based upon the structuralist textual analysis, I extracted six main subjects: encounter of people, perception of panorama or landscape, discovery of another world, observation of culture and history, solution of problem which arise during travel, and recognition of ones life.The relations between the demographic category and the subjects of tourist experience are summarized as follows. The younger writers emphasize the spatial contrast: they often compare their chosen destination with their everyday environment, and the smaller places they explored with popular tourist sites. The comparison is not neutral: what is unknown or idyllic is evaluated positively, while what is popular or metropolitan is portrayed negatively. The older writers are likely to underline the spatio-temporal contrast: they frequently speak of a spiritual experience following an ordeal, e.g., reverence of a panoramic view after a painful ascent. In terms of encounter, the nuance between age-groups is also clear. The younger tend to analyze systematically the encounter: they underline the contrast between the fragile tourist from the city and the kind and tough local people. For the older, the encounter is more realistic: there exists mutual communication between the local and the tourist.Regarding gender, more of the men observe the culture, history, and life style of the destination than women. Observation often leads to comprehension by accompanying the discourse of cultural comparison between native country and destination. On the other hand, women are more concerned with the solution of problems which may happen in their travel. In some cases, they write about the aid given by a local person in an encountered difficult situation; and in other cases they stress their sense of accomplishment after surmounting difficulties. Women are more concerned with self-presentation than men.Under divers tourist experiences, we can find out one common structure the spatiotemporal contrast. Men seek the spatial contrast between life-space and tourist space, between famous place and little place, and so on. Women pursue temporal contrast between difficult situation and accomplishment, between assisted tourist and assisting local person, and so on.The structure of contrast in the tourist experience resembles the system of objects proposed by Baudrillard. Both try to contrast some elements with others: goods in Baudrillard, and spatio-temporal experiences in travel writings. In this respect, we can say that travel writing is a part of a contemporary semiotic world. But we can also remark that there is a considerable difference: the contrast is symmetric in the system of goods and asymmetric in the narrative of travel. The asymmetry of the latter is the result of the real space.