I went to Tokyo the other day, always a treat for me since I like riding shinkansen and eating ekiben, the pre-made bento lunches they sell at train stations. I also like Tokyo because I don’t live there, and at the end of the day I can return to quiet, peaceful Gunma with its mountains and hot springs and restaurant tables of reasonable width. When I was passing through bustling Ueno Station I saw many advertisements proclaiming ikuze, Tohoku (“We’re off to Tohoku!”), ostensibly commemorating the one-year anniversary of the opening of bullet train service between Tokyo and Aomori, though in reality they were promoting tourism in the region damaged by the Great Tohoku Earthquake and subsequent tsunamis. The ads are brilliant, with a fabulous blending of retro art and popular imagery of Aomori (famous for apples and enka singers), Iwate (known for soba noodles), Fukushima (home of one of the most famous battles of the Meiji Restoration in which 19 samurai committed ritual suicide rather than live in a modernized Japan), Miyagi (founded by famous samurai Date Masamune, so badass he provided the inspiration for Darth Vader), and so on. I’ve traveled through the region often, hitchhiking during my single days and taking a trip there with my son in 2009, and I want to go back soon. Remember, if you’re able to consider a visit to Japan sometime in 2012, people here could really use the tourism!
A gorgeous advertising campaign for Tohoku.