KUMAMOTO, Sept. 4 ─ An agricultural cooperative in Kumamoto Prefecture (JA Group Kumamoto) hosted a tour for nine popular Taiwanese bloggers and journalists in the prefecture for the first time. The tour gave them an opportunity to discover firsthand how Kumamoto has recovered from the 2016 earthquake through the visits at JA farmers’ markets and tourism farms. Having deeper connections with those who are good at communicating information will hopefully help the prefecture to tell to a wider range of audience how people in Kumamoto stood up after the destruction and how they are offering beautiful food, via SNS (social networking service) for example. It also helps to bring back more international travelers, the prefecture hopes.
The visitors including a female blogger with 750,000 followers and reporters specialized in Japanese tourist information joined the tour of two nights and three days and enjoyed farming experiences and close interaction with local farmers as well as a walk around Kumamoto Castle, which is now under the restoration work.
On September 4, 2017, the visitors attended a welcome ceremony held at a farmers’ market of JA Kumamoto called Yumedaichi-kan in Yamagashi city. At a tourist farm, Kichijien, they had a fun time picking pears and grapes with their children with the help of local farmers.
A famous 29-year-old female television presenter who joined the tour with her daughter said, “I saw many lovely fruits at the farmers’ markets, but they are sold in a large quantity, too large for us to buy and take home. It’ll be nice if they are sold in small pieces so that we can eat in the shops.”
The tour was one of the reconstruction assistance programs and was organized by the JA Group Kumamoto in collaboration with the Kumamoto Branch of the Central Cooperative Bank for Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (the Norinchukin Bank) and Nokyo Tourist Corporation (NTour). The Central Union of JA Group Kumamoto emphasized, “We intend to improve the farmers’ markets and tourist farms further so that they’ll become tourist spots. By doing so, we want to accelerate our restoration efforts.”