Today’s feature is on a quaint, green Japanese town– Kumano. Unlike big Japanese cities–Tokyo, Hokkaido, Kyoto and Osaka–Kumano (in Hiroshima) is off the mass-tourism radar. Yet, beauty junkies globally know that Kumano is home to the highly raved Hakuhodo make-up brushes.
In 2008, I did a home-stay in Kumano. As the birthplace of the influential global organization Mayors for Peace, Kumano too advocates peace via community-based tourism. Compared to mass-tourism, community-based tourism is definitely more sustainable, environmentally-friendly and provides more opportunities for conversation with locals. A hotel stay for instance, can never give you the privilege of exchanging world views with locals who have opened their houses and hearts to you. Those sharing over sake are priceless.
We visited the Kumano Brush Museum:
During the start of Showa period, demand for writing brushes increased. The Kumano village decided to specialize in the production of these brushes, which gradually expanded to cosmetics brushes. Today, 15 million high-quality Kumano brushes are produced annually.
A Kumano brush is always special because each premium brush is handmade by skilled craft-men.
After the museum, we went farming:
The Kumano City Organization actively plans and runs small guided tours. Tourism revenues go entirely to local communities.
Sixty years ago during World War II, the atomic bombing in Hiroshima not only took thousands of innocent lives; it left their land and economy in ruins. Today, wounds remain raw. With a small town population of 24,000, a typical citizen in Kumano inevitably knows someone who perished in that catastrophe. Grannies recount the day of the bombing when black rain fell. Because of this trauma, locals are determined to champion peace in today’s increasingly chaotic world.
“Let’s advocate peace with the world, our environment, and within ourselves.”–A farmer told me.
Indeed, peace isn’t quiet–it is proactive! Tourism in Kumano is more noble than bringing about economic, social and cultural benefits to locals– It really is about the healing process. By showcasing Kumano’s beautiful culture, hosting me as an international tourist was the local’s way of reconciliation with the world, post-war. To the global community, tourism in Kumano is a powerful political song and testimony for world peace.