Japanese Tourists’ Guide To Aloha

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - June 14, 2006
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Jim Ueno, president and chief editor of Aloha Street Magazine
Jim Ueno, president and chief editor of Aloha Street

When Aloha Street Magazine asked its Japanese readers where they stay when they visit Hawaii, the most popular answer was time shares.

“That surprised our clients,” says Jim Ueno, president and chief editor of Aloha Street Magazine from his Waikiki office. “It’s worth it for them (Japanese tourists) because they know they are coming back once a year. That’s how much they love Hawaii.”

The free 180-page quarterly Japanese publication features shopping, eating, activities, and anything of interest to tourists. It’s distributed to more than 100 locations on Oahu, and the magazine also has 3,000 subscribers in Japan.

“Their interests are very diverse,” says Ueno, a Punahou area resident. “People are more nature-oriented now and they like healing, because they must be so tired living in a big city and working so much. In Hawaii, they see a totally different atmosphere here, and it heals them. They love to be in nature. It’s more than an ecotourism nature walk. They want more ways to associate with Hawaii’s environment besides climbing on Diamond Head or sitting on the beach. They want to spend time in the slow life as they’ve been living the fast life.”

This year the publication won two Pai awards from the Hawaii Publisher’s Association. It took first place for a Japanese language publication with annual circulation of over 500,000. It also won for its Discover Big Island Travel Planner in the Japanese language publication with an annual circulation of under 500,000.

Ueno notes that the hot topic in Japan this past year is the environment. When Japanese visit Hawaii, they want to know where they can volunteer with beach cleanups to help pick up trash. In fact, recycling is a concern of Japanese visitors. In Japan, there are five different trash cans labeled for various recyclables in public places, such as the shopping centers. So when Japanese people don’t see several trash cans labeled for recycling, they don’t know what to do, noted Ueno.

“Even when they find it’s OK to throw everything in one trash bin, they feel guilty,” Ueno says. “Tourists want to help somehow. They want us to keep Hawaii beautiful.”

The publication also conducts quarterly surveys and prints the results to help bridge the gap between the tourist industry and the tourist.

To support the environmental movement, Aloha Street donated $5,000 in proceeds to the Outdoor Circle from selling The Heart of Hawaii 2006 scenic calendar. The calendar was printed on recycled paper with soy ink.

One challenge Ueno notes is that the Japanese visitor count has been decreasing because of the booming demand from the U.S. market for hotel rooms.

“U.S. tourists book six months ahead,” says Ueno. “Japanese tourists wait until the last minute and the hotel rooms are gone already. So maybe we’ll have different people, or richer people, coming in the future. The market is changing. The people are changing.”

Ueno, a Tokyo native and a1997 HPU MBA graduate, worked at Pac Rim Marketing for three years before becoming a part of Aloha Street Magazine. Under Ueno’s direction, the magazine’s format was changed to be closer to what Japanese people are more familiar with by contracting a Japanese company to design the colors, schemes and layout.

There’s also a website, Aloha Street.com, which was launched in 1999 by the Wincubic Company. The website, which is updated weekly, has created a social networking service called Aloha Park, where people can write to share their experiences of Hawaii or ask questions. Also, Yahoo! Japan has started a special Hawaii feature where Aloha Street is providing the information on an ongoing basis.

For more information, call 593-9463, or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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