Monday, January 8, 2018

Japanese Jesus Tours: Safest Holy-Land Tour Destination?

Given the long-standing geopolitical disputes surrounding the city of Jerusalem and the recent Syrian Civil War, is a remote Japanese hamlet where Jesus lived out his days one of the current safest holy-land tour destination?

By: Ringo Bones 

If all of this were supported by historical facts, then the so-called “Japanese Jesus” site could be one of the safest of the so-called “Holy-Land Tour” destinations tours given that Jerusalem has been hard to get into by the casual “Jesus Tourist” since the establishment of the State of the Israel and the resulting conflict with the local Palestinians. And the recent Syrian Civil War has since denied access to the other Syrian holy sites frequented by Jesus and his disciples during their heyday not to mention Turkish holy-land sites are getting increasing hard to get to by the casual “Jesus Tourist”, it seems that the remote Japanese hamlet of Shingo is the safest holy-land tour / Jesus Tourism Tour destination at present. 

Although unsubstantiated tales of Jesus Christ surviving the crucifixion and living out the rest of his days in either the South of France and / or present-day Austria are the most popular, tales about Jesus living out the rest of his days in some remote mountain hamlet in Northern Japan – though relatively unknown – seems to have gained scholarly credibility in recent years. The tales of the so-called “Japanese Jesus” or “Ninja Jesus” turning mountain spring water directly into sake have nonetheless had its adherents, although of it becoming into the next popular Japanese Anime series and / or Hollywood blockbuster seems unlikely, evidence pointing to the existence of the so-called Japanese Jesus seems to hard to ignore. 

The legend goes that on the flat top of a steep hill in a distant corner of Northern Japan lies the tomb of an itinerant shepherd who two millennia ago, settled down there to grow garlic. He fell in love with a farmer’s daughter named Miyuko and fathered three kids and died at a ripe old age of 106. In the mountain hamlet of Shingo, he’s remembered by the name Daitenku Taro Jurai – the rest of the world knows him as Jesus Christ. 

A bucolic backwater with only one Christian resident – an elderly man named Toshiko Sato, who was 77 years old when Smithsonian Magazine contributor Franz Lidz last visited him during the spring of 2012 – and no Christian church within 30 miles, the remote Japanese hamlet of Shingo nevertheless bills itself as Kirisuto no Sato (Christ’s Hometown). Every year 20,000 or so pilgrims and pagans visit the site, which is maintained by a nearby yogurt factory. Some visitors shell-out the 100-yen entrance fee at the Legend of Christ Museum – a trove of religious relics that sells everything from Jesus coasters to coffee mugs. Some participate in the so-called Springtime Christian Festival, which is a mash-up of multidenominational rites in which kimono-clad women dance around the twin graves and chant a three-line litany in an unknown language. The ceremony, designed to console the spirit of Jesus, has been staged by the local tourism bureau since 1964.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Mexico City’s Corruptour: Using Tourism To Teach About Corruption?

Originally dreamt up by a group of friends working for NGOs, is Mexico City’s Corruptour a good way to teach about corruption awareness? 

By; Ringo Bones 

The Corruptour probably gained exposure after representatives of the BBC joined the tour back in August 2017 and given the much-needed exposure of its existence, I now wonder why every major metropolitan city in the world doesn’t have its own version of this. In short it is a very effective – and educational way - to spread awareness about corruption, not just to Mexicans and the neighboring countries, but to every concerned citizen of the world as well. 

 The Corruptour was dreamt up by a group of friends working for NGOs. “Everyone knows about corruption but imagine it is a monster,” says Patricia de Obeso, an organizer. “We’re trying to break it down and explain how it’s done.” The tourists, a mix of Mexicans and visitors from elsewhere in Latin America, do not buy tickets, but are asked for donations. 

The Corruptour is not the only gimmick for drawing attention to a problem that is indeed a monster (on average, Mexican households spend 14-percent of their income to pay bribes and meet other corrupt demands). The Mexico City tour was inspired by a similar one in the north-eastern city of Monterrey. The “Mexican Corruptionary” – published in 2016 – offers definitions of 300 corruption-related terms. A g√≥ber covers up for policemen in the pay of organized crime; a hueso (bone) is a bribe paid to get a public-sector job that itself offers bribe-taking opportunities. In 1996, the word “corruption” appeared in 27 Mexican headlines, according to Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity, a think-tank. By 2015, with newspapers reporting on police who had taken part in the massacre of 43 students and on allegations that the president’s wife had bought a house from a government contractor, the number of corruption related headlines had jumped to 3,500.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Volunteer Tourism: Doing More Harm Than Good?

Given that various “damning reports” had been published about the negative impact of volunteer tourism since 2010, is volunteer tourism doing more harm than good to the world’s poorest people?

By: Ringo Bones 

Ever since those various damning reports on the negative impact of negative tourism had been published since 2010 about upper middle class tourists from relatively well-off countries paying travel agencies to help orphans in various poorest regions of the world has been compared to Friedrich Nietzsche’s proverbial “Road to Hell” – i.e. such schemes are actually doing more harm than good. In a nutshell, well-intentioned westerners do little to alleviate the lot of poverty-stricken children in developing countries. This issue got the spotlight of the world’s biggest news providers because volunteer tourism is the fastest growing sector of the global tourism industry since the beginning of the 21st Century. 

Even though various medical volunteering schemes have been deemed the ones that do the most good in providing basic healthcare to poverty-stricken children in developing countries whose public health systems can barely cope to provide basic services to their own needy citizens, well-off upper middle class tourists paying a volunteer tourism company in order to work as an entry level carpenter or building painter in constructing new school buildings of the developing countries remote hinterlands are actually depriving local carpenters, painters and other local artisans of much needed jobs. Worse still, it also perpetuates the “White Anglo Saxon Jesus Syndrome” especially in developing countries that are used to be colonies of formerly “staunchly Christian” world powers like Spain, England or Portugal during the last couple of centuries. 

Is volunteer tourism really comparable to Friedrich Nietzsche’s proverbial “Road to Hell”? Well, various studies done on the subject of philanthropy still shows that that various philanthropic organizations that hire professionals that are specially trained to provide help to needy kids and the poorest citizens of developing nations are the ones that can actually do the most good. Just remember that whenever you feel that do good to feel good aspect of altruism, you and the world’s needy are better off for you just donating money to mainstream charitable institutions like Oxfam. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Las Vegas, Nevada: Birthplace of Atomic Tourism?

Chernobyl and Fukushima may be what first comes to mind about this topic today, but is Las Vegas, Nevada the actual birthplace of “Atomic Tourism”?  

By: Ringo Bones 

I think this now largely forgotten segment of Las Vegas tourism may have inspired The Killers to write the song Miss Atomic Bomb, but given the relative popularity of “atomic tourism” during the past few years in Chernobyl and Fukushima, probably only a handful of people actually know that atomic tourism actually started in Las Vegas, Nevada. And the 1962 atmospheric Nuclear Test Band Treaty probably consigned the glamour of such tourism to history’s dustbin. 

Believe it or not, the state of Nevada’s 1950s era Atomic Bomb Tourism program is largely born out of finding a child-friendly alternative to the burlesque floor shows and gambling that became everyone’s perception when it comes to the image of Las Vegas, not to mention Atomic Bomb Tourism has some potential science education merit behind it. Nevada’s nuclear bomb testing spawned a spectator culture tinged with both profound fear and Sin City delight. 

During the 1950s, the spectacular light show over Fremont Street that awed hordes of tourists at the time is most likely to be the initial flash followed by a mushroom cloud during atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in Mercury, Nevada – also known as the Nevada Test Site – a desert expanse just 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The 1951 detonation of an atomic warhead 1,060 feet over the desert floor marked the beginning of the above ground trials whose mushroom clouds were easily visible from the nearby tourist magnet. Given that most consumer electronic devices at the time were vacuum tube based and therefore more EMP resistant than today’s solid-state based smartphones and tablet computers, the mushroom cloud is primarily the visual indication that an Atomic Bomb test is underway – as opposed to a busted smartphone.  

In true Las Vegas style, the city capitalized on the atomic spectacle. The Chamber of Commerce printed up calendars advertising detonation times and best spots for watching. Casinos like Binion’s Horseshoe and The Desert Inn flaunted north facing vistas offering special “atomic cocktails” and “Dawn Bomb Parties,” where crowds danced and quaffed until a very bright flash several times brighter than the sun lit the sky. Women decked out as mushroom clouds vied for the “Miss Atomic Energy” crown at The Sands. “The best thing to happen to Vegas was the Atomic Bomb”, one gambling magnate declared. Are those the bygone age of an “Atomic Las Vegas”?