Up to the present, in Japan, aging ratios of municipalities in metropolitan areas have tended to be lower than those in small municipalities (10,000 inhabitants and few) in non-metropolitan areas. However, these ratios have begun to rise, especially in the Tokyo metropolitan area, with a less conspicuous rise in the Osaka and Nagoya metropolitan areas. Conversely, the rising ratios of aging population in small municipalities in non-metropolitan areas have somewhat weakened. Owing to the decreasing presence of the first-term aging population (those aged 65–74 years) small municipalities have emerged wherein increasing ratios of the latter-term aging population (age 75 and above) outstrip those of the first-term.
Analysis of the movement of aging populations in the central cities in the Chugoku region of western Japan shows that areas of movement connect aging populations in small municipalities in line with the scale of their centrality. Many among the first-term aging population move from neighboring large cities into small municipalities, and those in the latter-term aging population move out into the neighboring cities to live together with their adult sons or daughters or in homes for the aged. However, such a phenomenon does not exist in satellite cities in the Tokyo metropolitan area, where not only many first-term but also latter-term aging populations move from the Tokyo 23 wards to satellite cities. As a result, aging ratios in these satellite cities are becoming higher than in the Tokyo 23 wards, posing severe challenges for facilities for older persons.
In the future, the aging population in the Tokyo 23 wards will increasingly move to more distant municipalities. It will then be better for younger and wealthier peoples to move out to more distant places from their work, before their retirement, and in early stages of aging to bolster Japan's continuing care retirement communities. Considering that the aging population will decrease in the future in small municipalities in non-metropolitan areas in Japan, it appears preferable to strengthen central functions by enhancing facilities for the aging population in neighboring cities.
When accessing goods, services, and products that they are uncertain of, people normally rely on word-of-mouth (WoM) communication. Previous studies have shown that tourism behavior can also be categorized as consumption behavior and can therefore be a suitable subject of analysis in research focusing on the effect of WoM on increases in the rate of regular customers and customer satisfaction. Therefore, in the present study, conducted at a small spring-fed spot called Anantan in Toyama Prefecture, we probed the motives and characteristics of the visitors, and investigated the effect of WoM on maintaining the number of visitors. A questionnaire survey with semi-structured interviews of 86 visitors revealed that their motives of visit were categorized into convalescing treatment, health maintenance, and gastronome. Although the pond has a sacred origin, this influence has largely been lost. In addition, 76% of the visitors recalled that they made their first visit after receiving face-to-face WoM recommendation from relatives and acquaintances. These results support the findings of previous WoM research.
In this paper, we provide a case study of the Suidosuji shopping arcade in a shopping area of Nada Ward in Kobe. We look at developments in the commercial environment. Based on that, we clarify changes in the composition of shops in the Suidosuji arcade.
The Suidosuji shopping arcade is currently composed of about 300 shops, and a large number of pedestrians pass through the arcade daily. However, even though the population and the number of households around the Suidosuji shopping arcade have trended upward since the year 2000, large stores have been moving not into the arcade, but into the area surrounding the arcade. So, the annual sales of goods in the arcade has continued to decrease. We confirmed that with these changes an expansion of the commercial functions of the shopping arcade took place. Yet we also confirmed that the gap between the amount of business in the arcade and the larger amount of business in the surrounding area increased even more. In other words, the expansion of the former—the arcade's commercial functions— can be attributed to an increase in personal service shops, restaurants, and drinking establishments and a decrease in specialty stores and stores for large-purchase items; on the other hand, the increase in the latter—the gap between the amount of sales in the arcade and that in the surrounding area— can be attributed to an increase in the ratio of vacant stores in the arcade and a relative increase in the number of chain stores opening in the surrounding area, as compared to the arcade.
In addition, the change in the composition of the shops in the Suidosuji shopping arcade has meant that supermarkets have moved there, the number of personal service shops and restaurants has increased, and new chain stores have located there. Furthermore, the arcade has become a place where local residents can buy convenience goods, which has led them to regard the arcade quite favorably. In addition, we think that the role of the Suidosuji shopping arcade is changing from that of an area shopping district to that of a neighborhood shopping district, and this change in its role is related to its commercial survival.