Hello again friends and neighbours!

Just thought I would take a few lines here to let you know some updates of how things are taking shape with our Inbound Shikoku project. Well, in short, things are really beginning to take shape and we have done well in maintaining and creating very good relationships with people who are “key players” in this industry. That has been a very surprising and very promising thing.

I must confess, at the beginning of this site, the entire “Come To Kagawa” project I really was not sure what direction it would take, if any. I always viewed this work as my small way to “pay back” to the community and prefecture that has supported my family and business so well over the last eleven years. I’m an educator by trade, and a businessman as a result of growing our schools. Those two jobs have become more “hand in glove” and I feel much more comfortable making business decisions than I did at the beginning of establishing our company.

I have learned a lot in the past decade, and feel much more calm, confident, and able to focus my attention and energy where it needs to go. It may be that our new partners and friends in this work sense that there may be some good things that we can do together and make Kagawa-ken, and Shikoku, target destinations for people looking for a “deeper Japan” experience. And it is in our collaboration and marshalling of our talents and passion where we may see the best results.

Along the way, we have met people who are also very keen to “get a piece of the pie” as it were. I suppose that is entirely understandable. Inbound Tourism is a particularly interesting, and now dramatically expanding, industry. Maybe business owners are calculating as to how they may tap into this wellspring of income that is growing now in Shikoku.

In running one’s business, as in running most of my normal relationships with others, I find that the most important thing to work on is the relationship between people. Of course money is important, and of course there is a “bottom line” that needs attention, but as long as “the line” is on the good side of that black/red division between profit and failure, the most important thing is the connection that we develop and keep with other people.

Too many times I’ve been disappointed by “greedy minded” people who connect with us simply for the purpose of calculating what they can take away, and when can the relationship be terminated at the earliest convenience. We’ve seen a number of such people simply fall by the wayside, missing out on the benefits of long-term vision, and thus, long term friendship, camaraderie, and a sense of community.

Maybe this is also something that is in the best of Japanese companies I have seen in the last 20 years of being here in Japan. Many times, when I was invited to participate in a project, or asked for some work to do, a lunch, or coffee, or drinks in the evening, were part of the process. We meet and hang out. We talk, we get to know each other, we laugh, and we listen to the other person. We get asked questions, and can ask our own too. And the bond of knowing each other, and enjoying each other deepens. Then, and only after some investment of time and money and effort, does the work start.

There is no shortcut for this, in my experience. You need to be fantastically patient, and calm, and demand nothing. There is some waiting and watching, and some “behind the scenes” discussions. Japanese people are different than Canadians. I’ve learned, over time, that you need to be continually relaxed, be of good cheer, never push but be gently firm, and also allow space to form its own vacuum, from where reaction can take place. Once there is enough of a sense of trust, we move ahead, and then with a pretty quick pace, and excellent precision. I’ve seen this happen dozens of times and each time it does, I get a sense of surprise. It’s a Japanese way of doing business, and running projects, and seems completely counter-intuitive, but it really works astonishingly well.

We are now just about to round that corner with the Shikoku Inbound work. Thanks so much for hanging out with me on this website for the past eight months or so (after I woke it up again and brushed off the cobwebs, that is). I’m so jazzed. Every day I wake up, there is something new to do, something new to see, something new to sample and check on, and then something to show you when you come to visit.

Coming soon will be updates on more specific things how we are approaching visitors to Japan, and Shikoku, where to stay, what to eat, what to do, how to get here and away, and some of the support material, contacts, and methods to make the deep Japan experiences to explore and unravel be unforgettable, and something that will live with you for many many years to come.

Stay tuned. This is going to be big fun.

Mark