2003 6. Hospitality Development/ Presented in the seminar on “Towards the Future” in Nankai University, 2003/9/19

“Hospitality Development”


Hirohide Konami (Ph.D.)


Graduate School of Regional Development Studies

Toyo University, Tokyo, Japan

(This paper was presented in the seminar on “Towards the Future” held in

Nankai University, Tianjin, China, on September 19, 2003)

1. Introduction

While the “Hospitality Development” sounds like the development of some service industries, what I would like to mention here is not the development of industries but the development of “Hospitality Spirits”. 

It is needless to say that the mutual understanding is the most effective measure to avoid the mutual conflicts, and tourism is one of the best methods to deepen the mutual understandings.

Japan could have kept the battle-less country from early 1600s to 1860s under the administration of Shogun Tokugawas. The foundation of such long time peace would have been realized by the frequent and regular interchange of Daimyos (Governors at present) in Capital Edo (Tokyo), well-planned transportation, tourism accommodations, information and communication system all over the country, and the strict disciplines of the national people. These fundamental principles would be the same in case of the development of tourism. If the strict discipline were coupled with the hospitality spirit, this would be what the human being has been looking for.

This paper examines how to develop the hospitality spirit in tourism.

2. Historical change of tourism in Japan

When a Daimyo traveled to Edo, there were 53 designated lodging towns between Tokyo and Osaka for every 10 or 15 km. All highways in the country were arranged for lodging in the same way. Every Daimyo (total number of Daimyo was estimated as 260-270 in the country) was forced to live one year in Edo and another year in his own dominion leaving his wife and children always in Edo. This regular travel developed Japanese transportation and communication system connecting 260 – 270 cities and towns each other. 

National people also allowed traveling using this highway and lodging system unless Daimyo’s travels were not interfered. Check points called “Sekisho” were located at main boundary of dominions and travelers should bear travel pass issued from the government. Outflow of women and inflow of weapons were checked severely. Woman’s traveling by alone were said to be dangerous but there were many woman travelers and seemed to be safe enough. 

Another aspect of those days is almost no threat for theft. This continued until 1940s in Japan and it was usual that normal homes and temples never locked in their entrance except at night. It was also common that if a traveler faced some difficulty on the way, he or she could easily get the help of the people nearby including a temporally free feeding and lodging. 

Under these circumstances Japanese traditional hospitality spirit had been performed. But in some day after the World War II, this desirable hospitality spirit was replaced by the commercialism of travel agencies and companies and every service in tourism came to require comparatively high expenses. Especially during the term of rapid economy growth from 1950 to 1980, commercialism of tourism brought about the competition of luxuries and the cost of travel became extremely expensive in Japan not only for lodging but also for transportation. Then the tourism became the hobby of only high or middle-income group. Mass tourism of the people engaged in agriculture started late 1960s and became world famous traveling group called “Nokyo-san”. 

Now, the main players of tourism in Japan shifted to younger generation and aged people. They do not like mass tourism but a personal travel. This tendency may recall the importance of hospitality spirit again.

Fig.1 Main Highways in Edo Era: 

Please visit ” http://db.gakken.co.jp/jiten/ka/129690.htm”

Fig. 2& 3: Branch Highway network in Iwate in Edo Era: 

Please visit “http://www.pref.iwate.jp/english/how/how.html” &


3. Change of attitude of Japanese people against foreign visitors

As Japan is located far east of Asia, it was seldom to see foreign visitors until around 1960s. There were such stupid proposals as every guide sign could be written in Japanese and foreign visitors should study Japanese before arriving in the country. Japanese were also one of the worst speakers in English.

Physical problems for foreign visitors in those days were the difficulty of communication, traditional way of eating by chop sticks, special taste of Japanese food such as raw fish, traditional style of toilet, traditional way of sitting on tatami mat without any chairs, no lock on the door, and so on. 

Now, after the rapid growth of Japanese economy and the introduction of western style public apartment in 1960s, the traditional way of Japanese people gradually replaced by the western style such as a table and chairs, western style beds, western style toilets, installing the locks on doors, etc. In 1970s, the abolition of the regulation on foreign currency promoted Japanese people to travel oversea and to notice the importance of international mutual exchange of culture and knowledge. 

In these days, there are many shops accepting US dollars for payment and multi-language guide signs and announcements, and almost all kinds of world food in metropolitan areas. About 20 million Japanese, about 15% of the national population, visit foreign countries every year in recent years. This means that there is almost no conflict between foreigners and Japanese even in local areas. 

4. Development of hospitality spirit

Everybody feels cheerful by receiving good hospitality and likes to experience such hospitality again. Now, what would be good hospitality? Followings are the examples of good hospitality I have ever experienced.

(1) Human factors      

・Smiling face

                    ・Kind behavior and words

                    ・Delicious food and drinks

                    ・Reasonable payment

(2) Social factors      

・New findings


                    ・Good scenery

(3) Facilities          

・Comfortable accommodations


                    ・Silence at night

                    ・Well prepared equipments

There may be such an opinion that the social factors and facilities are not the sprit and only human factors should be discussed. But this opinion cannot be agreed because we cannot be satisfied without a certain level of service of social factors and facilities. Moreover, even social factors would be prepared by a total effort of the region, in other words, a kind of group hospitality spirit, and facilities would be prepared by some managers and technicians. Hospitality would be classified into two groups, personal hospitality and group hospitality. When the both are combined together, there would be true growth of hospitality spirit.

Let’s turn to human aspects. The top priority of needs for a human being would be the safety for himself and his family. The second would be the least satisfaction for his daily life such as shelter, water, food, clothes and a little money. It can be said that a human being requires above satisfaction before he welcomes the visitors with his hospitality spirit. The group spirit also exists as a total of personal hospitality spirit. This means that we need to upgrade the daily life of the people at least to a certain level of satisfaction in order to make them grow with hospitality sprit. 

Another aspect of human being would be the feelings or emotion. Who will willingly serve for a person such as arrogant, proud in bad meaning, dirty or rude? In case of commercialism, it may be necessary to endure these bad feelings, but in the sense of hospitality, we need not to pay attention for such a person. This means that the hospitality spirit is not one way but both way between host and guest. Therefore, it would be needed to educate both sides not to be arrogant, proud, dirty or rude. 

5. Conclusion

Hospitality spirit would be one of the most effective measures to realize world peace and would be developed by following efforts.

(1) To upgrade people’s daily life to a certain level.

   In Japanese saying, “Courtesy will be driven by the least satisfaction of clothes and food” is showing the basic idea of hospitality. If a human being do not have the least satisfaction of clothes, food and housing, he cannot have hospitality spirit for the others.   

(2) To prepare good transportation, accommodation, information system.

   Transportation, accommodation and information systems are the fundamentals of travel and should be safe and comfortable. As mentioned above, hospitality spirit would be grown by mutual efforts and if these fundamentals were not prepared well, a guest would lose his generous mind to accept the hospitality. 

(3) To promote people’s interchange without crimes and thefts.

   Hospitality spirit starts from the meeting of the people by chance. The mind of caution would be the biggest barrier for the hospitality. Mutual reliance would be developed by the frequent interchange of people without the fear for crimes and thefts. Also Japanese saying, “Telling a lie is the beginning of theft” was taught repeatedly at home and in primary schools for all Japanese. Then people will gradually open their mind for visitors and start to recognize hospitality spirit.

(4) To educate people not to be arrogant, proud, dirty or rude.

   Hospitality spirit would be staying on the delicate balance of pride and respect. If a human being could not have any pride of himself and if he could not have any respect for visitors, then he may not have hospitality spirit. Arrogance, bad pride, dirtiness and rudeness will surely break the delicate balance mentioned above. 

(5) To remove commercialism as much as possible.

   Commercialism may work well for the development of economy but disturb the sound development of hospitality spirit. Hospitality spirit will grow only on the pure mind of human being. Therefore, the tradition of the area, home education in infant-age and education in primary school are the fundamentals to grow hospitality spirit. According to the research of Hiroshi Arata in the Research Institute of M&M Strategy, Japanese merchants studied the importance of both sides benefit, in other words, to share the benefit between sellers and buyers, right after the corruption of bubble economy in the beginning of 18th century. They changed the strategy not to pursue short time big benefit but long time stable benefit.


   Hospitality spirit has the similar nature and never expects the direct benefit.

(6) To try to combine personal efforts to make up group hospitality in the region.

   If the people migrate too much, they cannot keep the hospitality mind of the area. Hospitality spirit may grow on the ground and its root may be the history of the area. The rapid westernization of Japan right after the Meiji Revolution and the World War II weakened the recognition of the history of the area, but so much effort to find out the regional history and tradition has been done in these 20 years. This cultural renaissance may grow hospitality spirit in the area. And it is true that the final actor or actress of hospitality is a person himself. It is vitally important to combine the hospitality spirit of each person with the tradition of the area. It is also important to create attractive areas to make people stay longer in the same area.

Finally, though the hospitality development is not so easy as mentioned here, we must try to develop such spirit and contribute to the development of tourism and world peace.