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The novelist Shiba Ryotaro is not only one of Japan’s most prolific and best-selling authors. He is also a key figure within the popularization of war-related tourism, heritage tourism and contents tourism in multiple localities across Japan. There are many example, but the four I have actively researched most are:
Moeyo ken (Shinsengumi / Hijikata Toshizo)
Shiba’s role in the popularization of Shinsengumi and Hijikata Toshizo (1835-1869) underpins much of the current fascination with Shinsengumi. This affects memories/tourism in Hino, Kyoto, Aizu-Wakamatsu, Hakodate and other places where Shinsengumi were active. Moeyo ken has been adapted for the small and big screen, most recently in 2020.
Chapter 10 of War as Entertainment and Contents Tourism in Japan.
Tobu ga gotoku (Saigo Takamori)
NHK’s Taiga drama Tobu ga gotoku, based on Shiba’s novel, sparked a major tourism boom in Kagoshima in/after 1990. Saigo Takamori (1828-1877) is now one of Kagoshima’s most important tourism resources, and was the inspiration for the 2003 Tom Cruise movie The Last Samurai.
Ryoma ga yuku (Sakamoto Ryoma)
Ryoma ga yuku helped rehabilitate the image of Sakamoto Ryoma (1835-1867) after he had been tainted by associations with militarism during the Second World War. Now Sakamoto is at the centre of local identity and tourism branding … the regional airport, Kochi Ryoma Airport is even named after him.
Clouds Above the Hill (Akiyama Brothers and Masaoka Shiki)
Matsuyama was already the setting of Natsume Soseki’s famous novel Botchan, but Shiba’s epic novel of the Russo-Japanese War turned Matsuyama into an important “sacred site” relating to the Russo-Japanese War. Matsuyama now actively markets itself as the city of Clouds Above the Hill or as a City of Literature.
See Chapter 12, War as Entertainment and Contents Tourism in Japan.
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