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Exploring Halal Business and Muslim-Friendly Initiatives in Japan

On July 4, 2023, Honichi Lab organized a seminar titled “Sustainable Tourism through Embracing Food Diversity” with approximately 80 participants joining online. This seminar aimed to shed light on the latest trends in the inbound market, practical approaches to “food diversity” in the post-pandemic era, and sustainable tourism.

The Program

The seminar featured distinguished speakers who shared their expertise and experiences in various aspects related to sustainable tourism and food diversity:

  1. Inbound Market Trends and an Overview of Sustainable Tourism Speaker: Mr. Teppei Kawanishi (Head of Consulting Division, Honichi Lab at Mov, Inc.)
  2. Market Relevance and Practical Approaches to “Food Diversity” Post-Resumption of Travel and Its Alignment with Sustainable Tourism Speaker: Mr. Akihiro Shugo (CEO, Food Diversity Inc.)
  3. Embracing “Food Diversity” in the Restaurant Industry: Case Study of Ohkute Yamamoto-ya Speaker: Mr. Hiroyuki Aoki (5th Generation Owner, Yamamoto-Ya, Co., Ltd)
  4. Sustainable Tourism Focusing on “Food Diversity” in the Hitoyoshi-Kuma Region Speaker: Mrs. Kyoko Makino (Inbound Business Manager, Hitoyoshi-Kuma Tourism Development Council)


The Rising Popularity of Sustainable Tourism Post-COVID-19

Firstly, Teppei Kawanishi from Honichi Lab provided insights into the overall trends of the inbound market after the pandemic, customer reviews by foreign visitors, Japan National Tourism Organization’s policies, and an overview of sustainable tourism. His presentation incorporated various data, emphasizing the importance of leveraging platforms such as Google Maps, Google Business Profile, and Dianping (a popular Chinese review site) to disseminate information effectively.

The Relationship Between Sustainable Tourism and Food

Akihiro Shugo, the CEO of Food Diversity Inc., explored the connection between sustainable tourism and food, highlighting recent global trends and the evolving customer preferences and needs in the post-pandemic era.

He also discussed practical strategies to address these changes effectively, emphasizing the significance of identifying commonalities rather than focusing solely on the differences when catering to vegetarian and vegan menus, as the latter approach can pose challenges in kitchen operations.

Finding commonalities is the most important

A curry pack that meets diversified foods that can be applied to a restaurant’s operation as soon as the next day.

Case Study

Mr. Hiroyuki Aoki, the 5th generation owner of Yamamoto-Ya Ookute shop (Nagoya), shared their journey in embracing food diversity and their achievements in becoming a food diversity-friendly establishment since 2018.

He discussed the motivations behind their initiatives, the current state of affairs, the challenges faced, the benefits derived from their efforts, and future prospects. Mr. Aoki emphasized that by making subtle changes to existing menus, restaurants can implement food diversity practices with minimal operational burdens.

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Sustainable Tourism in the Hitoyoshi-Kuma Region

Ms. Kyoko Makino from the Hitoyoshi-Kuma Tourism Development Council, representing the region’s commitment to sustainable tourism and vegetarian/vegan-friendly options, explained their endeavors to establish a sustainable travel destination since the devastating flood disaster in July 2020.

She shared specific examples of their initiatives and highlighted that reevaluating local resources led to the discovery that many traditional local dishes were already suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets, debunking the misconception that adopting such practices is inherently challenging.

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Engaging Discussion and Positive Feedback

The seminar concluded with an interactive session where participants posed numerous questions. The 90-minute event received positive feedback from attendees, who expressed satisfaction with the seminar’s valuable insights.

Some participants commented on the significance of finding common ground to facilitate easy implementation of initiatives, the inspirational story of Yamamoto-ya Ookute’ss transformation for the next century, and the importance of collaborative efforts within communities to achieve tangible results.

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