Since the foundation of Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau, we have held communication level up seminars for tourism related groups such as accommodation facilities, transportation companies and travel information centers. But this was our first initiative with Shinto priests and priestesses.
In fact, this is the first time for this kind of seminar held for a sacred site in the entire country of Japan.
Before the International Aikido Congress in Tanabe, which will start on October 5th, our office aims to aid and enhance the experience of visiting Aikido practitioners by developing the tourism infrastructure, and especially to support local citizens be able to communicate with non-Japanese speaking visitors.
The seminar was held in a workshop style so that they can learn interactively. Six Shinto priests and priestesses, in their traditional Shinto costumes, attended the seminar. They often interact with foreign visitors and had many questions and concerns. They were all keen to teach international visitors about their World Heritage Grand Shrine.
Victory, Successful Employment, Safe Birth and Traffic Safety etc… there are about 100 different kinds of amulets. It is very difficult to explain all the meanings of these religious items, so we decided to make English translation sheets which include a picture, explanation in Japanese and explanation in English.
This way they can use the sheets to outline the meaning to visitors without speaking English fluently. We also discussed putting more English explanations onto existing signboards throughout the shrine grounds.
Within days, we worked together with the Office of Kumano Hongu Taisha to create these explanatory materials and handouts in English.
More than 600 foreign visitors will come to Tanabe for the International Aikido Congress.
On October 11th there will be Aikido Demonstration at Oyunohara. We are looking forward to see the results of this seminar and how our foreign guests will react to these new initiatives which introduce Japan’s spiritual heritage.
Thank you Kumano Hongu Taisha for your openness and willingness to share this sacred place with the world.