Iwate Prefecture’s Kamaishi, which was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011, is looking towards the business events market as part of its ongoing recovery.
In the port town, where 30 per cent of homes and 60 per cent of businesses were damaged or destroyed, facilities for meetings and activities for incentive groups are rising in attractiveness.
For example, Cosmos Park – a repurposed municipal park that housed the homeless following the disaster – was transformed from an old factory and wasteland into a play park, garden, activity centre and restaurant. The facility now welcomes about 10 incentive groups, numbering 20 pax each, per year.
“Our pizza-making experience is our most popular experience because it’s a great teambuilding activity that connects people and nature; some members pick the tomatoes from the garden, while others tend to our on-site pizza oven,” shared owner Satoru Fuji.
Meanwhile, Osaki 100 Nengakusha, a local organisation aiming to preserve nature, culture and fishing jobs in the area for 100 years, set up eco tours to showcase the coexistence of people and the marine environment. The fishing boat ride around the bay, barbecue lunch of oysters – which were wiped out in 2011 – and beach litter pick package has attracted repeat incentive groups, mostly from Tokyo and Taiwan.
“Participants enjoy eating fresh seafood with views of the ocean it came from, and giving back to the community,” said tour leader Shinya Kubo.
As well, Tetto or Kamaishi Civic Hall opened in April 2018, complete with two halls, a gallery, seven meeting rooms, three studios, two Japanese tatami mat rooms, and a lobby suitable for indoor and outdoor events. Next door, the newly-opened Pit boasts a stage and standing or seating suitable for product launches, shows and conferences.
The Ryokan Yakume also added banquet and meeting rooms for business groups as part of its refurbishment of its first and second floors, which were inundated by the tsunami.
As Kamaishi is a host town of the Rugby World Cup 2019, facility and activity providers are expecting further growth, as corporate groups add local activities to their fixtures’ corporate hospitality packages.