Episode 29

Published on:

24th Apr 2023

Adventure tourism opportunities in Japan with Mike Harris

Mike Harris arrived in Japan in the 90's to find a wonderland of adventure tourism opportunities. Listen to hear how he was able to persuade local stakeholders to see that adventure tourism is a good thing for an area and how he is helping struggling small towns to create their own destinations. If you are in adventure tourism and looking to expand to Japan or enhance your adventure tourism business in New Zealand, then this is the episode for you.  

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In this episode you’ll hear:

  • How Mike discovered the untapped potential of Japan’s outdoors
  • Building a world class adventure tourism business when there are no regulations
  • Strategies for working with and winning over the trust of local stakeholders
  • How Mike is helping communities throughout Japan to develop their *DMOs and attract new kinds of tourists

About Mike

After graduating with degrees in business and Japanese from university in New Zealand, Mike has been involved in adventure tourism in Japan since the early 90’s. 

As one of the pioneers of the industry he created Japan’s first canyoning company, Canyons, and is also credited with introducing international safety standards and best practices. 

His 25 years in the Japan tourism industry at multiple levels have led to a deep understanding of tourism marketing and management. 

He currently works at the national level for the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Tourism, Cool Japan Awards and Japan National Parks League, advising in areas of tourism strategy, operations and marketing. 

Mike also works at the local level as a board member of the Minakami Tourism Association (a *Destination Marketing Organisation or “DMO”), chairman of the Minakami Outdoor Association, and also consults in many rural areas for adventure tourism, inbound tourism and destination development. 

When he has free time you can find him exploring new Canyons around the world, backcountry skiing or enjoying a few craft beers while watching the rugby 

Connect with Mike



Kodo Travel: https://kodotravel.com

Outdoor Japan: https://www.outdoorjapan.com/ 

Jandals in Japan is brought to you by Catherine O’Connell Law and PodLaunch with Jayne

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About the Podcast

Jandals in Japan
Bringing The Land of the Long White Cloud to The Land of the Rising Sun
The best show about New Zealanders doing business in Japan, bringing The Land of the Long White Cloud to The Land of the Rising Sun
How do you build a brand in Japan and nurture a loyal customer base?
What do you need to have in your tool belt if you are thinking of coming to Japan to launch a business here?
Japan is often considered to be in the "too hard" basket but we are here to open up the black box of doing business in Japan.
We will share stories from successful Kiwis selling their products and services here in Japan.
They'll tell you their tips for success and pitfalls to avoid.
They'll share their challenges and what they did to overcome them.
They will tell you things you can't find in textbooks or on the internet.
We will also be sharing the latest intel and insights on Japan from our on-the-ground presence
And you'll hear some super business culture and other tips from us sprinkled throughout.
Grab a glass of sake and let's get into it.
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About your hosts

Jayne Nakata

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Jayne Nakata is a Southland girl who arrived in Japan in 2002, planning to stay just two years. 20 years later she is still living in Fukushima Prefecture with her Japanese husband and two children. When the triple disaster hit in 2011, Jayne made the commitment to stay in Fukushima and contribute to rebuilding the area. She is the host of the award winning podcast Transformations with Jayne, which is a favourite with international women living in Japan. She is also the double award winning podcast producer and manager for PodLaunch with Jayne.

Catherine O’Connell

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Originally from Christchurch, Catherine O'Connell has lived in Japan since 2002. Catherine has over 20 years working at brand-name Japanese corporations as legal counsel. In 2018, Catherine launched her own boutique law firm in Tokyo, which has become become a multi-award-winning business. She is Vice Chair of the Australian & New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan, Audit & Supervisory Board Member at TOYOTA Motor Corporation & FUJITSU Limited. As well as the Jandals in Japan Podcast, she hosts the award-winning Lawyer on Air Podcast.