Spring Cherry Blossoms in Spring, Autumnal Sake Tasting: Contribute to Rebuilding Tohoku with Phone in Hand

Promoting Year-round Tourism in Tohoku

Since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, many people have contributed to the diversity of rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts in the Tohoku region. One of these is the Tohoku Sakurakaido Dream Committee,*1 which supervises the Tohoku Sakurakaido Dream reconstruction project. The project is named after Japan's favorite flower, the cherry blossom (sakura), which in recent years has become the symbol of reconstruction efforts in Tohoku.

The aim of Tohoku Sakurakaido Dream is to promote the attractions of Tohoku and encourage tourism in the region by compiling a spring tour themed on Japan's beloved and beautiful sakura that visits the 108 best spots for viewing cherry blossoms spread throughout the six Tohoku prefectures.

The Tohoku Sakurakaido Dream Committee has now added an autumn sake tasting tour, which lists sake breweries where visitors can sample recently released new seasonal sake varieties. In this way, the Committee helps to promote tourism in Tohoku all year round.

*1: The Tohoku Sakurakaido Dream Committee was set up in December 2011 with the aim of promoting reconstruction and rebuilding in the Tohoku region by harnessing the economic benefits of local tourism. The Committee, which uses the symbol of the cherry blossom, currently has 55 participants drawn from government, public transport operators, tourism operators and financial institutions (as of September 30, 2015).

Using ICT to Support Vacations Where Tourists Can Experience Tohoku's Appeal

Since July 2013 the Fujitsu Group has been working closely with the Tohoku Sakurakaido Dream Committee, providing technical support for the Tohoku Sakuratabi Navi*2 journey planner app, and also promoting personnel exchanges in the Tohoku region, primarily through initiatives such as the Sakura Hackathon on the Ashita Community Lab*3 chatroom site.

Fujitsu also supplies the POSIGEO*4 Ubiquitous Computing Service, a location platform designed to augment the cherry blossom and sake tasting journey planner app to be launched by the Committee next spring. The app holds data on the 108 best spots for viewing cherry blossoms in the Tohoku region as well as 80 leading sake breweries, and provides automated route suggestions to the selected destination. Content can be updated via any standard computer browser to ensure that the app is updated in a timely manner.

In addition, Augmented Reality (AR)*5 technology in the app displays handy walking directions and distance to the nearest attraction simply by the user holding out the phone. The app also includes a virtual stamp book that keeps a record of places visited, thus creating a personalized account of the trip.

*2: Supplied by Fujitsu Systems East
*3: Web media provided by Fujitsu, launched April 2012
*4: Supplied by Fujitsu Network Solutions; sends relevant tourism and other information to phone and tablet apps based on location information from GPS and other sources, associated base app also supplied
*5: Using ICT to augment and extend information from the human senses, such as sight and sound. AR markers are image icons used to specify locations where elements are combined.

Sake Label Collection App

The Fujitsu Group has started a trial of the Kurakara*6 app, which encourages people to build up a personal collection from the 80 sake labels on the Tohoku Sake Tasting Tour. Every time the user purchases sake or orders it in a pub or restaurant, they take a picture of the label on their phone or tablet device to add it to their personal collection. Each label is accompanied by product details such as manufacturer history and product origin, as well as local information about foods, delicacies, local produce, souvenirs and key attractions. In this way, sake serves as a springboard for discovering more about the Tohoku region's attractions.

The trial commenced on December 14, 2015. The aim is to involve as many people as possible to generate user feedback for improving the app, while also extolling the virtues of the Tohoku region. Please try it out for yourself!

*6: The app is a joint development involving Fujitsu, Fujitsu Advanced Engineering and Fujitsu Design.