With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting almost every aspect of everyday life and governments looking to revitalize the economy, the Japanese government has initiated a strategy to promote the “workcation” in a bid to boost the tourism sector. Although the concept, which is very similar to digital nomads, is not new, it is relatively unheard of in Japan, which has tended to adhere to traditional ways of working.

Background

With the continual spread of COVID-19, the pandemic has not only drastically changed established ways of living but also pushed society to reexamine and adapt to new ways of working. As social distancing, avoiding confined spaces, large crowds and close-distance interactions become a habit, remote working and remote-based jobs have become the norm. With individuals relocating to rural areas or base themselves from two locations, some businesses have also begun the gradual process of moving their headquarters to the countryside, changing the concentration of economic activities in Tokyo – fundamentally altering the relationship between the urban and the rural.

With an eye on building a better relationship between cities and villages for the future, Loftwork worked with the city of Fujiyoshida and Saruya Hostel to come up with a project called “SHIGOTABI” – a portmanteau of shigoto (work) and tabi (travel).

Overview

The SHIGOTABI project, which was highlighted in Japan Today, provides city workers with a much-needed break from the mundane realities of everyday life and an opportunity to develop a deep connection with the countryside and nature.

Between November 2020 and March 2021, remote workers will put up in one of three beautifully renovated hostels in Fujiyoshida, a city at the foot of Mount Fuji, where they will be able to experience a “workcation.” Special local experiences will run throughout the five months, and remote workers will be able to truly immerse themselves in the environment, taking part in special local experiences and activities from starry night tours of the forest and wildlife watching, as well as a series of activities run by internationally renowned film composer Hiroko Sebu and D&DEPARTMENT PROJECT called “d47 canteen.”

The project aims to inspire professionals with the spectacular views of nature at the foot of Mount Fuji, helping them to overcome their ennui, while also allowing them to personally experience Fujiyoshida’s charm to provide new discoveries and renewed insight.

Concepts

  • Working holiday
  • The search for an environment that is an escape from the mundane activities of daily life
  • “Work” and “travel”
  • The two “are separated by a thin veil
  • “Travel” quietly blends into the daily life without one noticing
  • Work that feels like a holiday
  • Working holiday SHIGOTABI
  • A project that provides you with the opportunity to do so

About Fujiyoshida

Located at the foot of Mount Fuji with an elevation of about 750 meters, Fujiyoshida City, in Yamanashi Prefecture is a convenient hour and a half drive from Tokyo or a two hour train ride. Blessed with a majestic natural landscape and abundant water sources of Mount Fuji, Fujiyoshida has been prosperous since ancient times. To this day, the influences of Oshi (御師), low-level priests who introduced, cared for and entertained Mount Fuji visitors, can still be felt through the city. In addition, the city has more than a thousand years of history in fabric production. Various factories have now established their own brands that have made the city the local fashion center. Driven by their love for the city and its history, residents have taken great care in preserving Fujiyoshida’s resources and culture in order to pass it onto future generations.

Spacious, multi-functional working areas that inspire creativity

Remote workers who participate in the program will stay at three youth hostels, including SARUYA HOSTEL, which have been renovated into a modern style that also retains traditional elements. The hostels, formerly ancient folk houses and imperial residences, consists of co-working spaces, conference rooms and special spaces suited for various needs from workshops and quiet temples. There are also several areas providing a comfortable environment where visitors can work while enjoying nature up close.

Five Months Filled with Food, Art, Work and Themed Activities

With the goal of providing a holistic experience during the five months, Loftwork also worked with Fujiyoshida City and SARUYA HOSTEL to organize a series of special activities and events that can stimulate curiosity and creativity while also allowing attendees the freedom to plan their stay based on their availability, interests and goals.

To achieve this, the companies worked to divide the activity aspect of SHIGOTABI into two parts. The first is the “SHIGOTABI Meetup” – the workcation scheme where professionals stay in and work from a renovated youth hostel in Fujiyoshida for five months and attend various events and activities that will allow them to better understand and connect with the area.

The second is “SHIGOTABI et cetera,” focused on introducing the Fujiyoshida area to regular visitors who aren’t taking part in the five-month workcation scheme. Visitors are free to plan to visit in advance or apply to take part in activities they are interested in while visiting the area.

“SHIGOTABI Meetup”

The “SHIGOTABI MEETUP” programme allows people to book activities and accommodations. The SHIGOTABI organizers have planned various different activities each month, from D & DEPARTMENT PROJECT’s “d47 Canteen” that uses local ingredients from Fujiyoshida to create food experience activities to composition workshops led by internationally renowned film composer Hiroko Sebu. Registration for SHIGOTABI MEETUP opens on November 2, 2020 on the SHIGOTABI website and various affilated crowdfunding websites.

“SHIGOTABI et cetera”

During the SHIGOTABI Meetup period, those who are unable to take part in the workcation scheme will also be able to participate in the local activities designed by the organizers. “SHIGOTABI et cetera” provides information about the Meetup tours on stargazing, weaving factories and wildlife observation and more. Those who are interested can make their own accommodation arrangements and take part in the activities through booking directly with the event organizers.

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