Ritsumeikan University staged a 5-week program, "Tourism Development through Appropriate Management of World Heritage Sites," from January until the end of February. This program, commissioned by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is designed for local, regional, and central government officials who are responsible for the World Heritage site management.
The cultural and natural heritages of historic towns and cities are symbols of a country's history and have generally been well-preserved and utilized as important tourism resources. However, in recent years some heritage sites in developing countries have been inappropriately developed, resulting in the undermining of their value.
Through lectures given by professionals as well as field trips to World Heritage sites located in Kyoto and other historical cities, this program provides participants with opportunities to learn how local governments, tourism bureaus and citizens' organizations work to support tourism development.
On February 8, 14 trainees from 11 countries and regions made a field trip to Toji Temple, one of the world heritage sites in Kyoto. They toured the temple and were briefed on its history as well as disaster prevention measures by Mr. Yamashita, the Division Chief of the Toji Temple Maintenance Division.
In addition to the vastness of its precincts, the temple boasts numerous national treasures and important cultural properties. Among these are the tall Golden Hall and five-story pagoda, necessitating two large fire pumps and an underground water tank on the temple grounds. Moreover, fire fighting water cannons are located close to several buildings registered as national treasures or important cultural properties. In case of fire, the volunteer fire corps rushes into the temple to fight the fires until the fire department arrives at the site. The temple periodically holds fire drills in cooperation with the volunteer fire corps, the Kyoto fire department, and local residents. The trainees listened attentively to the briefing and asked questions.
The Founder's Hall, where the statue of Kobo-Daishi (Japanese Buddhist monk) is usually situated, is under reconstruction until the end of 2019, and during the field trip trainees observed a craftsman working on the cypress bark roof using bamboo nails. Mr. Tsuruoka, the Division Chief, Cultural Properties Division, Department of Guidance, Kyoto Prefectural Board of Education, also briefed them on the history of the hall and the transitions it has undergone.
To wrap up the program, trainees developed action plans for the tourism development activities in their own countries and presented the plans in the final week.