We interviewed Mr. Yamazaki, a creative director of Engi Inc. which runs outdoor projects to offer opportunities to experience the characteristics of each local land, Terroir and asked him how they started their outdoor business, prospects, and recommended attractions.
Shigeyuki Yamazaki / 山崎 繁幸
Mr. Yamazaki was born in Aichi in 1979. During his 13-year engagement in a restaurant review website company, Gurunavi Inc., he learned how the restaurant industry was structured and acquired the management expertise of popular restaurants. Meeting excellent food produced in Japan and their competent producers led him to come up with the business model for the barbecue facilities directly connected to food producers utilizing idle lands.
After leaving the company he belonged to for 13 years, Mr. Yamazaki launched the first location of BBQ TERRACE in 2016, and a total of 28 locations have been opened all over Japan for five years since its foundation.
He also launched "TerroirCAMP", a service to deliver sets of barbecue ingredients to the campground where the ingredient food was produced. By connecting each local camping site in Japan with food producers in the same region, he is expanding the projects to create added value to outdoor tourism.
―About attracting people from abroad, is Japan popular as an adventure tourism destination among them in the first place?
Yes. Japan ranks first among countries travelers interested in adventure tourism want to visit. Camping constantly ranks 10th or higher among popular activities out of many, and as a service for camping, a campervan rental service is most used by tourists from overseas to Japan. Although this service is not so familiar to Japanese people, it is much more common to people in some other countries, which means there is an obvious need for services related to camping.
Because visitors from overseas cannot come to Japan with bulky gear, they stay at a hotel even if they want to go camping. So we are planning to establish a camping accommodation service, incorporating local food and culture with adventure tourism that offers experiences in a natural environment, as well as OTA (Online Travel Agency) specialized for it.
n for each country=200
Reference: Hokkaido Bureau Final Report of Land Development for Adventure Travel Contents 2019, P.58, 59
Values are indicated in percentage (%)
n for each country=200
Reference: Hokkaido Bureau Final Report of Land Development for Adventure Travel Contents 2019, P.55 (Partial Excerpt)
―What is the most difficult thing in running an outdoor business?
I mentioned a little bit about difficulties when I talked about problems earlier, but it would be the fact that most Japanese campers have a Japanese-style barbecue with thin-sliced meat, veggies, and yakisoba (Japanese stir-fried noodles) first and foremost. I am not saying that the Japanese style is bad. This may be a habitual thought that their style is "the BBQ." However, they are likely to consider that barbecuing is cheap in the Japanese style, which never leads them to an idea of quality local food.
The barbecue ingredients that our TerrioirCAMP provides are quality meats and veggies carefully produced by local farmers in each area. We offer blocks of meat because we think grilling a quality beef or pork block spectacularly is one of the fun activities. It would take time and effort to replace cheap-cost barbecuing with a premium and high-value-added activity that offers an enjoyable time having quality ingredients from each local region.
―So, what are the prospects for your business goal in three to five years?
The goal of our food supply project in the second phase is to cover all 47 prefectures of this country as a target area in three years, which is one of the prospects, and we have started supplying in five prefectures: Tottori, Ibaraki, Aichi, Shizuoka, and Nagano, since this January. Plus, we plan to network with 1,000 camping sites in Japan and structure a system that can distribute the equipment needed by campgrounds as well as food in five years. We want to establish a B2B platform for camping just like Infomart Corporation because not only food but also equipment and supplies, such as disposable chopsticks, plates, etc., are necessary for camping.
Regarding the B2B project to produce events based on campgrounds to vitalize each local area in the third phase, it would be great if we could keep working with various companies, government organizations, embassies, etc.
Although the OTA (Online Travel Agency) project specialized for adventure tourism by developing tourism programs with local governments is still under planning, we aim to complete the program design by the end of this year and provide the service quantitatively in two to three years. Right now, we are working on the development of one of the tourism programs with Totori prefecture.
―Lastly, please tell us your recommended campground for campers from abroad.
That's 一向平キャンプ場(Ikkoganaru Campfield), situated in 大山隠岐国立公園 (Daisen-Oki National Park) of Tottori prefecture. I recommend this place because it is a high-value-added campground where campers can only bring themselves and rent everything for camping. In the national park, other than camping, they can enjoy various nature activities such as the Finnish sauna, stargazing, forest therapy, etc. By the way, Tottori prefecture has another name, "Hoshitori (星, hoshi: star; 取り, tori: catch, meaning catching stars) prefecture," because of its breathtaking starry skies.
On this camping site and national park, adventure tourism has already been established by placing a campground as a hub, which we think is the one. This place is like a mecca for us trying to create programs for adventure tourism. We are also planning to make tourism programs of Tottori version for visitors from overseas with Tottori Prefectural Government Tourism and Exchange Bureau International Tourism Attraction Division and 一般社団法人 とっとりキャンプ TOTTORI CAMP ASSOCIATION. Please go and visit Tottori!
How did you like this article?
As a Japanese, I was thinking camping is busy and bustling, which is habitual and rooted in our Japanese mind. However, after interviewing Mr. Yamazaki, I feel like going camping if I take camping as tourism to experience activities in the magnificent natural environments of Japan. This interview made me want to visit the recommended campground of Tottori.
Please send us information from a comment box (at the bottom) if you have a recommended place for camping in Japan or any requests to change something about camping sites in Japan, which will be a huge support for us. Thanks!