Japan sells experiences to attract tourists despite "bakugai" slowdown

Updated By on Apr 28, 2017, 08:00 am
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Source: WA SPA website (www.wa-spa.jp)


By AsiaToday reporter Kim Ye-jin - Japan is tempting foreign visitors to open their wallets by selling experiences.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (better known as Nikkei) reported Monday that the recent bulk buying phenomenon in Japan among foreign tourists known as "bakugai" (explosive buying) has slowed down, and more visitors are seeking out beauty and healing experiences.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, the number of foreigners visiting Japan last year was 24.82 million, up 16.2% from the previous year. Among them, Korean visitors increased by 22.3% from the previous year to 5.42 million, ranking second in the country after China.

However, bakugai has stopped rising despite increasing number of foreign visitors to Japan. In fact, Chinese consumers spent more than 1 trillion yen on Japanese merchandise last year via Japanese sites. Some Japanese media pointed out that this is because increasingly, Chinese did not bulk buy goods during their visit to Japan, instead, they bought them via Internet after going back to China.

As the consumption of foreign visitors such as bakugai has reduced, Japan is now focusing on selling experiences to open their wallets.

The Nikkei introduced Candy, a 40-year-old tourist from Hong Kong who frequently visits a hair salon named Allys Hair at the Shinsaibashi OPA in Osaka. She has already visited the salon five times just to get her hair styled in Japan. Every time she visits Japan, she goes to the hair salon and does sightseeing.

"It takes time and costs a lot in Hong Kong," she said. "Hairstylists in Japan are professional and are good at achieving a natural look that suits each individual customer."

Forcise, which manages 'Allys Hair', has five hair salon branches in Tokyo and Osaka. The company said the number of foreign visitors in 2016 increased 1.5 times from the previous year to some 600 people.

The number of foreigners visiting nail shops has been on the rise, the Nikkei reported. "Recently, we have days when all our customers are foreigners," said a nail technician at Nail Quick Ikebukuro Sunshine City salon in Tokyo. "Many customers are not only from Asia but also the Middle East and Europe."

The technician said that the Japanese-style delicate and cute designs are popular among foreigners, and that "lucky nail design", which is believed to bring luck, is especially popular among Chinese customers.

Japanese spas and hot springs are also popular among foreign tourists. WA-SPA, a Japanese-style spa and massage shop in Ginza, is popular among foreign visitors who seek out for cultural experiences and massage.

Local hot springs, which are relatively difficult to visit compared to other places in metropolitan area, are also popular. Kinosaki Onsen in Toyooka Hyogo Prefecture, attracted about 40,000 overseas visitors last year, 36 times more than five years ago.

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