SAKURA, Chiba Prefecture--To sharpen the interest of inbound tourists, the city government here will offer an experience-based samurai tour starting from autumn this year.
According to city officials, the samurai-themed tour will be offered four to five times a month in Sakura, which is located close to Narita Airport.
Details will be worked out later, but the tour will see participants dressed in kimono and carrying a fake or wooden sword while strolling through the streets filled with remnants of the former castle town so that they can experience being feudal warriors.
Taking advantage of its proximity to the airport, officials are eager to promote the city as a destination where foreign tourists can casually enjoy Japanese traditional culture.
"We’d like to make the best use of our location close to the airport to promote the 'samurai town,’ and proceed with efforts to encourage overnight guests and transiting passengers at Narita to casually participate," said an official from the city’s industrial promotion division.
The local government collaborated with the Sakura City Tourism Association in March to organize a trial tour in which 15 people, including foreign students from Taiwan and Thailand, joined. The officials decided to host the tour on a full-scale basis after seeing the event well-received by the participants, with women enjoying wearing a fake sword around the waist.
It is expected to be about a two-hour day tour.
According to the officials, about 1.9 million tourists visited Sakura last year. The city is close to Narita Airport, about 20 minutes by train from the major gateway to Japan.
But "although we don’t have accurate data, foreign tourists account for less than 10 percent," an official said.