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Eight billion people on earth—one life-changing encounter in Kyoto "1/KYOTO": Nishizawa Stay



Eight billion people on earth—one life-changing encounter in Kyoto "1/KYOTO": Nishizawa Stay

A new style of private tour taking you on a journey of the heart through dialogue

Founded in 2017, Nishizawa Stay is involved a wide range of real estate and travel-related ventures in Higashiyama, Kyoto, including a rental machiya (traditional townhouse) Kyomachiya-Suite Rikyu and Sights Kyoto, a multipurpose tourist facility with a co-working space and a pub.

One of the company’s initiatives is “Hood Travel,” which aims to move tourism away from the conventional pattern of simply visiting tourist spots toward a new kind where the focus is on people. The first original travel product under the brand is “1/Kyoto” (pronounced “Kyoto-bun-no-ichi”) launched in December 2023 with support from Inbound Innovation Kyoto.

The keywords of this groundbreaking program are “dialogue tourism.” It’s designed to bring tourists together with people from various fields in Kyoto to experience not only Kyoto's culture, lifestyle, and customs, but also its deeper, more essential spirit and values through dialogue. The current lineup of participating Kyotoites features such prominent names as Shoin Onishi, steward of Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Rie Ohnishi, the fourth-generation owner of Kyoto fan shop Ohnishi Tsune Shoten, Nobuaki Kanbe of Kanbe Buddhist Prayer Bead Shop, Yoshifumi Tashima of Kitagawa Honke, a venerable sake brewery in Fushimi, Daisuke Kiyomizu, ceramic artist of the Kiyomizu Ceramic Studio Tokinoha, and Toshiyuki Matsubayashi of Asahiyaki, a pottery studio in Uji.

The tour begins with participants being picked up from their hotel by hire car. From there, they’ll be taken to the relevant site for the dialogue where they’ll receive a short briefing while touring the facility. After that is the main event—a full hour to enjoy a dialogue with the Kyotoite. An interpreter guide will of course be provided.

“Once-in-a-lifetime” dialogue tourism for the happiness of tourists, Kyoto residents and society as a whole

One example of the tours offered is “Tokinoha x Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto: One-of-a-Kind Ceramic by a Kiyomizu-yaki Master” held in collaboration with Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto. Participants can tour Tokinoha Ceramic Studio in the Kiyomizuyaki Pottery Complex and shop at the on-site store with Daisuke Kiyomizu himself. After that, they sit down with Mr. Kiyomizu for an hour and a half of dialogue about his passion for ceramic-making and his thoughts on ceramics, and have a one-of-a-kind original ceramic piece order made. The finished piece is delivered to their home at a later date. There’s also an option for dinner served on Tokinoha tableware at the hotel afterward. This tour plan is designed to immerse participants in the innermost depths of deep Kyoto culture.

In providing such tours, Nishizawa Stay has a goal of making Kyoto a sustainable tourist town that pleases residents and tourists alike. While the market has already moved into a phase where many foreign tourists are seeking a deeper understanding and experiencing the essence of Kyoto rather than simply touring famous sightseeing spots, there are still several issues. Despite the demand for opportunities to learn more about Kyoto's traditional culture and industries, the inability to approach workshops and artisans without an introduction presents an obstacle for visitors. For foreign tourists in particular, difficulty in accessing the necessary information means that tourism experiences remain superficial. Meanwhile, Kyoto's traditional culture and industries face a shrinking market, declining sales, and a resulting lack of successors.

Beyond serving the tourists who visit and the people and entities who receive them, Nishizawa Stay’s goal is that by teaching about the spirit of Kyoto the services offered by 1/Kyoto and its operator Hood Travel will propel the tourism industry away from a consumption-oriented model and toward a sustainable one, thus creating a better society and future.

These ideas have been discussed in various quarters for some time, but what is new and unique about 1/Kyoto is the focus on people and the concept of “eight billion people in the world—one life-changing encounter in Kyoto.” Traveler meets resident—tourism, economy, and culture are in their essence driven by people, so it seems natural to make people the focus. 1/Kyoto brings a new perspective to the very concept of travel and tourism with journeys that focus not on “things” but on human encounters.

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