Golden Week: Driving for pleasure in Japan
Japan has a very high level of car ownership, an excellent highway network and sufficient disposable income to ensure that drive tourism should be an important segment of domestic tourism. However, domestic tourism in Japan, a relatively unexplored field in terms of the literature, does not place much emphasis on the use of cars, except in close proximity to other more major transport modes such as rail and air, unless it is in respect of the Golden Week holiday. Drive tourism in Japan is important in visits to shrines, onsen centres and Furisato (going back to rural roots, or ‘home’), but by using tour buses, rather than motorhomes, cars and caravans for long-distance travel or day tripping (Braun and Soskin 2002; Flognfeldt 1999; Parolin 2001), as might be found in Australia, New Zealand or the USA. This chapter profiles the drive tourism market in Japan and uses a case study based on Golden Week to illustrate aspects of the particular Japanese approach to drive tourism.