This site introduces organizations providing ecotour-related services in Japan; however, it does not mean that Japan Ecotourism Society particularly recommends them or approve their operations. Please contact them for details of their services.
The Shin-etsu Trail Club is commended for the continuous progress that it has made for three years after winning the Special Prize and the Semi-Grand Prize of the 2nd and 4th Ecotourism Award, respectively. The Club has engaged in a variety of activities including establishment of voluntary rules for environmental protection, placement of signboards which not only provide historical and cultural information on local areas but also contribute to the users’ safety, and provision of training programs for registered ecotour guides. The Club has also set a guide-to-participant ratio for the purpose of quality control and has conducted continuous monitoring of the entire trail system that it serves. Today, 200 guided tours are conducted annually, and the number of participants has reached 2,300 a year.
In order to ensure the proper operation of its activities, the Club examines seasonal differences in trail use by utilizing infrared devices installed for counting hikers and also sets up the Review Committee on the Use and Conservation of the Shin-etsu Trails which consists of specialists in environmental conservation and local residents. In addition, based on its trail-based activities, the Club actively promotes protection and responsible use of local resources as well as revitalization of local communities as seen in, for example, the establishment of a collaborative system in which trail maintenance work is entrusted to other groups in neighboring areas.
As more long-distance trails are being developed in various parts of Japan, all these achievements have earned the Club high marks as model cases of environmental conservation, local revitalization, and collaborative management.
Kuroshio Zikkan Center was awarded a Semigrand Prize in 2006 and its continuous activity for 4 year was appreciated this year. The quality and the volume of ecotours have made big progress and the tour areas have expanded as well. At the moment, the annual number of participants and tours held has doubled compared to 4 years ago. The organization bases its activity in Kashiwajima Island in Kochi and named this island as "Shima ga Marugoto Hakubutsukan" (The Museum of Whole Island). The keyword of their activity is "SATO UMI", which contains the message "People should not only receive blessings from the sea, but also take care, grow, and protect the sea." Furthermore, the organization is also involved in activities which promote the connection between the mountain and the sea. It creates a manmade forest inside the sea by using scraps of harvested woods as a breeding bed for oval squids. This activity provides local children an environmental education program, and it creates a network among the local forestry developers, divers, and fishermen. The activity has been on going for 10 years, and is now expanding to other neighboring villages and cities. By providing an interchange between the fishermen and the tourists, the local goods market events have help create new business in the area. The organization is receiving requests for inspection and lectures from not only the local areas, but also from all over Japan. Themes that promote better relationships between fishermen and divers, and revitalize local areas through ecotourism are popular. The idea of considering the whole island as its work field, and the continuous activity that involves local people are highly appreciated.
Kaitou-Yumin Club, also the winner of the second year Special Prize and the third year Semigrand Prize, not only has energetically continued its activities, but also has evolved into an organization with a wider scope of activities positively influencing the local community. Since its foundation, it has emphasized cooperative relationship with the local community by forming partnership with fishermen's associations and collaborating with local residents to conserve natural resources and has devoted itself to improving the local economy through its efforts to increase local employment as well as the local consumption of local produce. The organization is commended for its variety of activities including the operation of universally accessible ecotours in cooperation with companies and NPOs, the administration of joint educational programs with schools to enrich the educational experience of the younger generation, and the formation of a group aiming to establish an ecotourism association. Furthermore, the organization has gained attention from other regions and accepts interns and trainees in ecotourism. It is highly anticipated that Kaitou-Yumin Club will play a leading role in promoting ecotourism.
Ever since Hanno City was chosen as a model region for promoting ecotourism, the city, together with its residents, has been actively making efforts to advance ecotourism. With the "conservation and restoration of the natural environment and culture" as one of the principle guidelines, the Hanno Ecotourism Promotion Society aims to improve the relationship between humans and nature. The Society encourages citizen organizations and NPOs to plan and operate a variety of ecotours, which would stimulate residents' rediscovery of the region, leading to their local pride and attachment as well as the revitalization of the region. Also, the Society maintains the quality of ecotours by conducting feasibility studies and emphasizes the development of human resources by organizing training programs for ecotour guides. Mobilizing local efforts in a wide range of settings, the Society has been nationally recognized as a leading organization in promoting ecotourism.
Having started as a trust for regional environmental conservation, Kiritappu Wetland Trust (KWT) is highly regarded for its growing contribution to ecotourism through cooperation with various ecotours and local activities. It combines activities for wetland conservation and guided tours, offers ecotours cooperating with local fishermen and dairy farmers, and connects their research on ecological systems with general learning programs at local elementary and junior high schools. In addition to such activities it recently provided opportunities for local residents, especially housewives, to play a role as specialist in local produce in a program called One-Day Chef and formed a partnership with the Tama Zoo in Tokyo. The organization is commended for its continuing efforts to expand its activities.
Acting not only in the Mt. Fuji area, where they locate, but also nationwide, the Whole Earth Nature School (WENS) is commended for its numerous long-sustained contributions to ecotourism. The scope of its activities is wide-ranging, and all its contributions to the development of guidelines and guiding capabilities and to environmental protection and regional development are highly regarded. The organization has always involved in leading-edge operations and has taken part in assistance programs for developing nations by the JICA. Also, by enhancing disaster education in Niigata in 2006, for instance, it has made progress in establishing additional bases of operation to promote ecotourism adaptive to situations unique to different regions.
For the conservation and prudent use of regional resources Picchio has developed four well-balanced projects: the Preservation and Management Project, Environmental Education Project, Ecotour Project, and Research Documents Project. Especially, the research on Asiatic black bears focusing on the coexistence of bears and humans has lead to the development of high-quality programs and has had a positive impact on regional development.