In spite of drop in virus cases, Japan is yet to revive its tourism

Published on : Friday, October 29, 2021

Full with pink and fluffy stuffs like cuddly bears, 6%DOKIDOKI, a small store located in the heart of Harajuku district in Tokyo, is bursting with “kawaii,” the Japanese for “cuteness.”

However, it doesn’t have any foreign tourists whatsoever. And it could sure use some.

Similar to Asia, including Taiwan, Vietnam and Australia, the border areas in Japan still remain closed to tourists. Whereas other Asian countries are all set to move toward border reopening, Japanese borders will probably remain closed up for some time to come. Many businesses are suffering due to that as they rely on foreign tourists like anything. In 2019, they numbered 32 million before the pandemic hit the country.

“Foreigners understand ‘kawaii’ more emotionally than do Japanese. They use, ‘Kawaii!,’ in the same way they say, ‘Wonderful,’ ‘Awesome,’ or ‘Lovely,’ ” said manager Yui Yoshida, noting Japanese tend to use the word mainly for tangible things like cute puppies.

“We had so many foreign customers before the pandemic,” she said. “Then suddenly no one could come.”

Twenty six years back, 6%DOKIDOKI opened its borders and has a loyal following: when COVID-19 imperiled this place, supporters started crowd-funding campaigns to keep the place alive. Also, it’s boosting mail-order sales and recently has introduced colorful face masks in a psychedelic flurry of hues and bear-shaped pouches useful for carrying hand sanitizers.

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