Island of Yunnu, more commonly called Yoron, is one of the Amami Islands, located about 23 km north of the main island of Okinawa. In December 1953, the Amami Islands were separated from Okinawa, then under U.S. control, and incorporated into Kagoshima Prefecture of Japan. Yoron became the southernmost island of Japan, where young Japanese began to visit from the late 1960s. They enjoyed a vacation by the beautiful blue sea with coral reefs, and the warm hospitality of the islanders. Yoron was famed as the domestic “Paradise” in the subtropics in Japan. However, following the reversion of Okinawa to Japanese control and the re-establishment of Okinawa Prefecture in 1972, Okinawa became the primary destination for domestic tourists looking for the subtropical resorts. The foundations for the tourism development in Okinawa had already been laid by the U.S. military government after the separation of the Amami Islands. In 1970s, the rapid growth of tourism in Okinawa also saw an initial upsurge in tourists visiting Yoron, but as more attractive tourists sites with better facilities were developed in Okinawa, Yoron lost its appeal as a “Paradise” resort by degrees. These days see tourism on Yoron go from bad to worse, as the small island of Yoron is unable to offer something distinctive and different compared with Okinawa. The tourist gaze at Yoron was almost absorbed into the more general gaze at Okinawa. As Okinawa developed, Yoron had to try to strike out on its own within the larger framework of tourism centered on the Okinawa area rather than within the framework on the Amami area or Kagoshima Prefecture. Its resultant position has made it structurally vulnerable among other Okinawan tourist sites, and brought about the stagnation of Yoron tourism. This essay is an ethnographic study that focuses upon the development and decline process and the structural positionality of tourism on Island of Yunnu, a small “Paradise” resort island of the Amami Islands, in the context of Okinawan tourist area.
A travel brochure of Yonaguni Island—the points of interest of which were defined in terms of two main dimensions, i.e., the island's “peculiarity” and its “adventurous and exciting nature”—was presented to 125 subjects. After reading the brochure, the subjects were asked to write an essay on their impression about it. Text mining analysis was performed on the obtained answers. The summary of the result is as follows: (1) Reading the brochures, the subjects actually had an impression of its “peculiarity” and “exciting nature.” (2) On the other hand, there were also subjects who felt a sense of “recreation” and “relaxation” in relation to Yonaguni Island. This impression was considered to stem from the influence of the preconceived images about south islands that the subjects held, prior to reading the brochures. (3) The essays contained many descriptions about the butterfly (moth). The result suggests the effectiveness of using “peculiar” creatures, which inhabit only that particular area, and visually “exciting” images in a brochure. (4) There were many descriptions about a TV drama. It was surmised that marketing the island as a filming location of a TV show is effective in its appeal to the people. (5) Although the brochure highlighted not only the beautiful but also the stimulative aspect of the sea around Yonaguni Island, the descriptions were more disposed toward the former, and there was almost no description about the latter aspect.