Case Study

The 14th International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) Global Conference

(c)ONSHIRIN Regional Public Organization

(c)ONSHIRIN Regional Public Organization

(c)ONSHIRIN Regional Public Organization

(c)ONSHIRIN Regional Public Organization

(c)ONSHIRIN Regional Public Organization

(c)ONSHIRIN Regional Public Organization

(c)ONSHIRIN Regional Public Organization

Bon festival dance

In late June 2013, Mt. Fuji, the iconic Japanese volcano that has inspired religious devotion and artistic masterpieces for centuries, was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Three weeks earlier, from the 3rd to 7th of June, the 14th Global Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) was held at the northern foot of the soon-to-be-honoured mountain. The event drew 420 researchers from 57 countries.

In recent years, Fujiyoshida City and two other villages in Yamanashi Prefecture have energetically set out to brand their area on the north slope of Mt. Fuji not only as an international tourist destination, but specifically as an attractive MICE destination, under the name Kita Fuji.

It was against this backdrop that the Onshirin Regional Public Organization (a local public entity) and the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (which is part of Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) hosted the 14th IASC Global Conference. The Onshirin Regional Public Organization helps to enforce rights of common (“iriai-ken”) around the northern foot of Mt. Fuji, and they put together the committee that organized the conference, which included researchers and others with expertise regarding rights of common issues, as well as local government officials.

More than 400 participants gathered in Kita Fuji over a period of five days. No international meeting on this scale had been held here before, but the expertise of the Japanese sponsors in promoting the area, and the warm hospitality of the local people, ensured that the conference was a success.

Kita Fuji does not have the kind of dedicated international conference facilities, spacious university campuses and research institutions that typically attract large international meetings. But by linking four existing facilities in the area using shuttle buses, this compact locale was able to host an international meeting amid stunning natural surroundings. With trips between venues of five to ten minutes factored into the scheduling of conference sessions, the separate venues functioned as one.

Attendees raved about how the short drives allowed them to observe the daily rhythms of local life and the ever-shifting appearance of Mt. Fuji through the bus windows. The shuttle buses also provided transport between the venues and the accommodations. A wide range of accommodations was offered, catering to the diverse demands of the participants. These ranged from luxury hotels used by VIPs to business hotels, privately-run inns and B&Bs.

During the conference, attendees from around the globe enjoyed a warm welcome from the Japanese organizers and local residents. Appreciating the best of local cuisine was a running theme. Breakfasts and lunches featured seasonal, locally produced meats, vegetables, breads and full dishes from popular local shops, including traditional recipes.

Local Fujiyama cloth was used to make bags for carrying conference reference materials, and the bags were distributed free to the attendees. The welcome party on the first day featured a traditional open-air festival stage. This Japanese "matsuri" atmosphere gave attendees a taste of Japan's boisterous festival tradition.

Local people taught attendees the Bon festival dance. There were festival food stalls serving dishes like tofu made with Mt Fuji spring water, as well as locally brewed beer, sake and the region's distinctive Koshu wine. Attendees also tried their hand at yo-yo fishing. Through a program to involve the local community in this international conference, the main nightlife district of Kita Fuji, called Nishiura, held a "Nishiura Night" where restaurants offered special dishes, and attendees had a real chance to interact with locals.

Kita Fuji mobilized available resources to draw attention to a charm that is very different from a big city's. Attendees loved the breathtaking natural scenery at Mt. Fuji, the unspoiled rural beauty, the compact urban infrastructure, and the easy accessibility from Tokyo. They relished the area's long tradition of making all visitors feel at home, the wholesome and hearty local food, and the hospitality of the hosting organizations and local people. This warm, welcoming spirit is called “omotenashi” in Japanese. Everything came together to create a really successful international conference. Consider what Japan's regional cities could offer you as a MICE destination!

For more information, please visit the English website:
http://www.iasc-commons.org/conferences/global/iasc-2013
http://www.onshirin.jp/en/

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