Highlighting JAPAN Vol.121 June 2018

ENSCONCED in a great TOMOKO NISHIKAWAnatural landscape of picturesque mountains in the city of Kumano, Mie Prefecture, Atashika Beach is known for white sands and shallow waters that stretch out far from shore. Atashika appeared on the Ministry of the Environment’s “Best Beach 100 of Japan” list in 2006, and formerly drew legions of beach-goers every summer. Due to the recent diversification of leisure, however, there are fewer visitors turning up—especially younger ones. According to the Japan Productivity Center’s Leisure white paper, Japan’s domestic beach-goer numbers peaked in 1985 at 37.9 million people, and had fallen to just 7.6 million people by 2015. Atashika is no exception to this depressing trend, with visitor numbers dropping year by year.In 2011, Kumano City office staff reacted to the situation by setting up the Kumano Marine Sports Promotion Committee, bringing together experts in marine sports to devise a strategy to attract tourists and boost Kumano’s fortunes. In March 2012, they staged the Kumano Sea Kayak Marathon with the help of local fishermen and other marine industry stakeholders. Three classes were set, from one for beginners held in the calm waters of the bay to an advanced class in the seas off Atashika, allowing kayakers to fully experience the natural Paddling out at the Kumano Sea Kayak MarathonSUP athletes getting ready to raceKumano also held a beginner-friendly SUP competitionlosing ground as younger tourists and other beach-goers faded from its shores is using events that merge marine sports and natural attractions to improve its fortunes.A seaside town that was 16A SEASIDE TOWN CREATES ITS OWN HIGH TIDE

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