Riding on Creation of Harry Potter Theme Park, Tokyo’s Nerima Hopes to Entice Foreign Visitors with ‘Hidden Charms’

The Japan News
Participants listen to Masahiro Tsujita, the seventh-generation owner of Kojiya Saburoemon, as he talks about the traditional method of making miso during a sightseeing tour in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, on Friday.

Nerima, one of Tokyo’s 23 wards, is generally considered a residential area, but the municipality is gearing up efforts to attract foreign visitors with its “hidden charms.”

In June last year, Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo — The Making of Harry Potter, a theme park based on the Harry Potter film series, opened in the ward, attracting visitors from home and abroad. The municipality hopes to take advantage of this opportunity to boost local tourism. Some local businesses have also pinned hopes of vitalizing Nerima by offering a Harry Potter-themed menu and “magical” products.

“Nerima is an underdeveloped area in terms of tourism,” said an official of the ward’s commerce, industry and tourism department. “It doesn’t have many major tourist attractions, but there are many hidden charms. We want to introduce such places to visitors.”

On Friday, a trial tour was held with seven foreign participants who live in Japan. The tour included visits to locations like Kojiya Saburoemon, a miso factory where the soybean paste is produced using traditional methods. Following an explanation of the ingredients and process of naturally making miso without additives, the participants tasted different types of miso, which have obtained Halal certification.

After lunch at Kamezushi sushi restaurant, which is popular among locals, the participants tried their hand at a Japanese tea ceremony at Koyama Garden. They took part in ninja activities, such as throwing shuriken stars and cutting an object with a real sword, at the Seiryukan.

“I didn’t know much about Nerima before,” said participant Chen Ya Xian, a 25-year-old Chinese graduate student who lives in Kunitachi, Tokyo. “I think miso will taste more delicious now that I know how it’s produced.”

According to the municipality, day-trips featuring such local attractions have already proved popular among Japanese visitors, so it aims to offer fully-fledged tour packages tailored for foreign visitors from next fiscal year starting in April.