Against a backdrop of a decreasing population, a low birth rate and an aging society combined with an overconcentration of people and functions in cities, Japan's social environment is facing very difficult conditions, not only in terms of the economy but also in terms of the cultures, traditions, and techniques of individual regions.
With this in mind, we are aware that if the JR East Group is to continue to expand its railway network-based business, it will be necessary for us to create fluidity between local communities through the enhancement of each community's individual and specific appeals.
The JR East Group has actively implemented the unearthing of previously little known tourist resources, the development of secondary transport systems, and the provision of regional information in cooperation with local communities. We have done this through such initiatives as the Destination Campaigns, the setting up of priority sales areas, the sale of local specialties in stations, and various other events. Furthermore, in JR East 2020 Vision, we committed ourselves to a company-wide effort to further enhance the revitalization of local communities.
In September 2009, JR East launched the Rediscover the Region Project, an initiative that combines our transportation and life-style services businesses with the aim of accelerating cooperation with regional communities and, thereby, achieving steady results.
The basic concept of the Rediscover the Region Project is to support a form of continuous cooperation between the JR East Group and local communities regarding regional revitalization matters. The project stipulates a clear division of roles based on the "Create Together" strategy under which the Group strengthens its cooperation with regional communities and strives to develop new ideas and solutions.
In line with this concept, we have already started the provision of support for autonomous tourism development efforts in local communities. This support includes the creation of a new market of destination-based tourism using the travel package Tabi-Ichi. Tabi-Ichi includes the following concepts: climate and culture rooted in the region; local production and local consumption; and getting in touch with people, and features the involvement and ideas of local residents. Events such as the Iwate-Hanamaki Rediscovery Symposium have been held with the aim of providing residents with opportunities to look again at the tourist resources of their regions.
The JR East Group has railway networks that connect different regions, stations that serve as local centers, business know-how regarding ekinaka (inside station), buildings, and hotels, sales channels and advertising media radiating out from the Tokyo metropolitan area, and human resources that make contributions as members of local communities. The Rediscover the Region Project utilizes these strengths and exploits the traditional cultures, festivals, techniques, local produce, and other tangible and intangible tourist resources, expands sales channels, and promotes the exchange of interactive information between the Tokyo metropolitan area and regional communities.
A main objective of the Rediscover the Region Project is to bring about an increased flow of people and goods and create new markets through a tightening of ties between the Tokyo metropolitan area and local regions.
This, in turn, will no doubt lead to the reinvigoration of regional communities within the JR East service area and a concomitant strengthening of our management foundation leading to improved prospects for the Group.
Iwate-Hanamaki Rediscovery Symposium
The history of the cultivation of apples in Aomori goes back about 130 years.
Apple cultivation began because it was difficult to cultivate a rice crop in Aomori, which has a cold climate, and today Aomori is known as a producing region that is famous not only in Japan but throughout the world.
Apple cultivation in Aomori Prefecture began with just three saplings initially but today apple orchards stretch out as far as the eye can see and the area known as Apple Road is spread far and wide.
In May all of the faintly pink flowers on the apple trees bloom proudly everywhere, creating a beautiful landscape.
The Fuji apples for which Aomori is famous are also cultivated under the same name overseas and they have become the most produced variety in the world.