Heritage and the Politics of Culture
More than a century, nostalgia has been playing a significant role as motive force for tourism nationally as well as transnationally. Japan is one of the many countries where have experienced "nostalgia boom" in the past few decades. In Japan's case of nostalgia, urban small alleys called "路地/roji" has been one of the favorites and tourism has also been using it as tourist attraction. As for its outbound tourism, this tendency has been growing especially after entering the 21st century.
This paper examines the nostalgia for alleys in Japan's outbound tourism by focusing on the representation in the most popular travel guidebook series, "Chikyu no Arukikata Guidebook".
The analysis reveals that alleys are frequently represented as an antithesis against globalization. The tourist media depicts alleys as place of the past that Japanese had experienced still survives by emphasizing communal life in neighborhood, small-scale street businesses and lack of urban redevelopment: any of them are stereotypes of "endangered species" under globalization. Thus, tourism, a globalization itself, find its counterpart one-sidedly. In this sense, alleys can be paraphrased as the place of the non-global past, rather than "local", that the ongoing globalization of tourism created.
Japan's nostalgic boom is sometimes interpreted as a product of its aging baby boom generation. However, this paper indicates that the nostalgia of alleys is not generated merely from yearning of a certain social group but must be considered in a broader context as an expression of the non-global past that the globalizing tourism has imagined.