Tourist Gaze in Visitation Tours: Social Interactions and Power Relations between Host and Guest in Ama-cho, Oki Islands, Japan
This paper explores social interaction between host and guest in visitation tours to Ama-cho, in the Oki Islands,
Japan. Ama-cho is a remote island with a population of about 2,400 in Western Japan. Until the beginning of the 2000s, the
island had suffered from financial crisis and population decrease with declining birthrate and a growing proportion of elderly
people. However, under the leadership of Mayor Yamanouchi from 2002, the town has been conducting radical reform,
through cost reduction in various sectors, investment in processed marine product factories, and educational reform to
prevent children and their families from leaving the island and also to attract new students from outside the island. The
success of the reform has gained media attention, and currently about 2,500 people per year, including politicians,
government officials, teachers and researchers, visit the island to observe the reforms and learn from the key individuals
responsible for the change. In consideration of these situations, this sociological paper studies characteristics of “tourist
gaze” on the island, and the interpretation of power relations between host and guest.
Keywords - Power relations, Tourist gaze, Visitation tours.