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Historical ties and cultural connections between Guam and Chichijima: implications for tourism.


The motivation and reason for travelling, particularly to international destinations, have changed over the years. In addition, people travelling for leisure have a variety of destinations to choose from, with places competing against other places for tourism revenue. Differentiation is critical for destinations. Without it they will either become places of status or commodities, and when a place becomes a commodity, it can easily be substituted (Gilbert, 1990). King (2006) stated 'the more homogeneous our world becomes, the need to counter or balance this through tourism is increasing," (p. 106) while Plog (2000) has written about the increasing sameness of most destinations around the world, due to the effects of globalization.

We can say that the modern world has all but destroyed the opportunity for travelers to experience attractions that are truly unique. There has been a standardization of facilities that has enabled mass tourism by providing travelers with necessary familiarity, as expressed by Cohen (1972):

"As a result, countries become interchangeable in the tourist's mind. Whether he is looking for good beaches, restful forests, or old cities, it becomes relatively unimportant to him where these happen to be found" (p. 172).

Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) need to enhance and differentiate their products by emphasizing their uniqueness. Destination marketers often adopt a mass tourism orientation with a desire to maintain a steady flow of visitors over the years. Among managers in DMOs, there is the false belief that tourism products can grow indefinitely. As a result, we frequently see the emphasis of generic characteristics of destinations in all marketing campaigns as they attempt to attract too many target markets. For tropical island destinations, we see sun and sea dominate the promotion while other long haul destinations emphasize the exotic. Visitors today are no longer interested in the generic characteristics emphasized by so many DMOs. It is increasingly evident that new-sophisticated consumers seek authentic and unique experiences (Buhalis 2000: 17).

For many small island territories or nations, especially for those making up the Micronesian islands, they share a number of challenging tourism issues. These include vast distances from source markets, foreign investment and the resulting leakage of revenue, over-dependence on tourism (mono-structured economy), dependence on imports, and an overburdened infrastructure, just to name a few (Gossling 2003; Harrison, 2004; McElroy, 2006). Most island destinations rely on stakeholders from not only a single sector, but from both private and public sectors to tackle these issues (Buhalis, 2000). Small island destinations like Guam need the collaboration of both private and public sectors to provide visitors with authentic and unique experiences. One way of doing this is by examining the history of the island and the historical and cultural relationships with one of its neighbors, Chichijima, which happens to be administratively part of the largest source market for Guam's tourists.


Chichijima is one of the Ogasawara (or Bonin) Islands of Japan, dubbed 'the Galapagos of the East' (Guo 2007). The islands are situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are located about 1000km due south of Tokyo and about 1400km due east of Okinawa. They are part of the administrative district of Tokyo, but are accessible only via a on a diesel-powered ship once a week, making it a 25-hour long journey. The islands were mostly undisturbed by humans until settlement began in 1826, hence the name Bujin, or Bonin in English, which is an archaic kanji reading of Mujin, which literally means "no people" in Japanese. The Ogasawara Islands encompass more than 30 islets scattered in the northwest Pacific Ocean in the subtropical zone (Fig. 1). Chichijima is the largest island of the chain at twenty-four square kilometers.


It was not until the 1820s that the islands had repeated contacts with people. Between 1823 and 1830, a number of British whaling ships arrived, with a couple of sailors deciding to remain on the uninhabited island to begin cultivation and raising pigs. In 1830, a group of two Americans, one Dane, one Italian, one Briton and fifteen islanders from Hawai'i arrived and stayed, cultivating corn, pumpkin, potato, bean, melon, banana, sugarcane and pineapple, and raising pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, goats and deer (Guo 2007: 83). The new inhabitants of Chichijima became suppliers of provisions to the crews of various whaling ships. In 1862, Japanese people immigrated to the Ogasawara Islands for the first time (Ichiki 2003: 18) and a few years later in 1876, a Japanese Government office was built on Chichijima to govern the multicultural group of 69 inhabitants.

Soon after the immigrants from Japan arrived the teaching of the Japanese language was started and settlement systematically encouraged. In 1882, the early settlers all took Japanese citizenship. The population of the Ogasawara Islands was 7711 just before the War in the Pacific, with inhabitants on ten of the islands. By 1944, virtually all of the islands were evacuated and when the war ended, only those islanders of American and European origin were permitted to return. The islands were then occupied by the U.S. military and became known as the Bonin-Volcano Islands until 1968. After the US Government handed sovereignty of the islands to Japan, the evacuated Japanese also returned. Currently, Chichijima and Hahajima are the islands inhabited by civilians. Today, about 2,000 people live on Chichijima and another 400 to 500 on Hahajima (McNeil 2008). Chichijima has a multi-racial society, with one in ten of the islanders descended from Europeans, Americans and Pacific Islanders. The exoticism associated with this multi-racial society in Japan is still an attraction today to visitors from mainland Japan (Guo 2007: 83).

Chichijima has also become a popular ecotourism, diving, and whale-watching destination for visitors from Japan who must take a 25-hour boat trip from Tokyo to reach this destination.


In the United States, there has been an effort nationwide to create an awareness of Cultural Heritage Tourism. According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation (2009), Cultural heritage tourism means traveling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes irreplaceable historic, cultural and natural resources. Heritage areas are described as dynamic regional initiatives that build connections between people, their place, and their history and Daly (2003), in her paper that stresses the importance of heritage areas to invigorate communities, adds that these connections are strengthened by capturing and telling the stories of the people and their place. These stories, when linked together, reflect a regional identity and support a collective awareness of the need to protect and enhance the unique qualities of our destination. In her work, Daly is referring to communities in the United States and does not specifically address islands, but we can see the relevance of heritage tourism to small islands and island regions that rely on revenue from visitors. An important benefit of this is that they give rise to opportunities for economic development that promote and preserve the region's assets (Daly 2003:2).

For Guam and the Micronesian region that rely so heavily on Japanese overseas tourists, travel trends in Japan are extremely important to follow and understand. A number of works have been available on Japanese domestic and overseas tourism concerning the desire for the exotic and unique at destinations. Included in this genre are the attraction multicultural/multiethnic destinations like Singapore and Australia for Japanese overseas travelers and the maturing of this group of travelers to adopt a changing gaze, apart from the more generic tourist gaze described by Urry (1990).

Among the literature available on the Japanese notion of furusato (or native places). Furusato and rural tourism have both become popular in the post-bubble economy years. In Japanese society furusato have been developed as remedies to the "Economic Miracle'', thus attracting urban dwellers to restorative, nostalgic pre-modern villages. The relevance of Rea's work to this study is that against the historical context of Japanese cultural nationalism, the there has been an emergence of furusato overseas and that this indicates significant changes in Japanese tourism, notions of identity, and perceptions of the international community. Rea provides two examples of foreign furusato are in the United Kingdom and in Canada and proposes that demographic changes and a series of social shocks have shaken free entrenched beliefs of Japanese identity, and that this state of alienation is accompanied by a new willingness to seek existential meaning outside of Japan. (Rea 2000).

Siegenthaler (1999) covers travel to furusato in Japanese domestic tourism and the search for national identity in a study on long-standing practices of Japanese tourists, such as omiyage, or gift giving. Although this paper focuses on domestic practices, it has relevance to overseas destinations viewed as furusato. Siegenthaler posits that although destination choices may have changed over the years, patterns from the past remain unchanged. He states that if the central social practices of Japanese tourism remain largely unchanged--the persistence of the traveler's connections to home, the inevitability of a linkage between a valorized countryside and the enjoyment of individual pleasurable activity--visits to new sites may maintain a fundamental continuity with long-standing patterns (Siegenthaler 1999: 192). With the desire to replace "the decadent with the exotic--whether or not the exotic is tinged with a foreign flavor--may represent no new form of tourism at all but merely repetitions of patterns well documented by earlier observers" (Siegenthaler 1999:192-193). This is not an insignificant observation considering the economic impact that these patterns have with, for example, the omiyage (giftgiving) practice of Japanese overseas travelers.

Asamizu (2001) writes about Australia as a tourist destination with a need to diversify, and the way in which the influence of immigrants provided opportunity to diversify tourist attractions via a variety of cuisines. Cabramatta, a western suburb of Sydney and known as the Vietnamese town, is promoted as a tourist destination (Asamizu 2001: 146). In a similar vein, Hall and Page (2000) in their work on tourism in South and Southeast Asia describe how images promoting tourism in Singapore use the multicultural traditions of the country, ethnic tradition, unique and exotic images associated with festivals, eating and cultural performance. Thus in the case of Singapore, the multicultural traditions replace the absence of scenic landscape and heritage attractions, as a living form of tourism organized around the theme of ethnicity (Hall and Page 2000: 18).

Urry's study (1990) using "the tourist gaze" metaphor for tourists has had a significant impact in tourism studies. His work conceptualizes the nature of how tourists view and consume experiences at destinations throughout the world. Urry's analysis draws mostly on the experience and particular historical and cultural patterns of British tourism, although he does refer briefly to New Zealand examples to support elements of his analysis. However, does this conceptual framework equally apply to places and people in other parts of the world?

A number of criticisms have been made about Urry's work in this regard (e.g., Perkins and Thorns, 2001; Leiper, 1992; Hamilton-Smith, 1991). With changing preferences of tourists, it appears that the gaze metaphor may be too static or too simplistic. Shono, Fisher and McIntosh (2006) challenge the stereotypical image of Japanese tourists as gazers, and they analyze the changing nature of the Japanese outbound tourism market. In "The Changing Japanese Gaze" (2006), they also argue that Japanese tourists are becoming more independent as a result of changes in Japanese culture and want experiences that go far beyond a mere "gaze." Regardless of whether or not the gaze is no longer applicable, the "otherness" of what Japanese tourists encounter is still high. Therefore, Shono, et al. (2006) claim that what is needed is a greater understanding of the changing trends occurring around culture and society in Japan to fully understand the transformation of the gaze from a Japanese point of view. Societal changes in Japan have coincided with tourists who are less passive but who are still bound up in cultural obligations. Shono, et al. (2006) state in their work that in understanding the similarities and differences of the metaphor of the gazer for Japanese and Western tourists, a greater understanding of the transformation of Japanese outbound tourism is achieved.

Tourism literature mentioned above cover the importance of cultural heritage tourism, changing trends in Japanese domestic and overseas tourism, the desire for the exotic and unique destinations, attraction of multicultural/multiethnic destinations and the maturing of this group of travelers to adopt a changing gaze, apart from the more generic tourist gaze described by Urry (1990). To date, no literature has been published about the abovementioned topics as they relate to the unique historical relationship between the islands of Guam and Chichijima, which is currently known to only a small number of residents of both islands.


This paper will take an interdisciplinary approach at recommending strategies for destination leaders of Guam and Chichijima for enhancing their respective tourism products. This will be accomplished by first briefly reviewing relevant tourism literature on cultural heritage tourism, changing trends and the needs and desires of Japanese travelers (as done in the previous section). It will then identify meaningful historical links and cultural connections between both destinations that can enhance the touristic experience for visitors to Guam and Chichijima.

Unlike the conventional tourism research paper that examines the marketing of destinations, this study will focus on the rich history of the island Chichijima as an ethnic and cultural melting pot with strong links to Guam. The conclusion will connect the historical ties and cultural connections of Chichijima and Guam with established tourism concepts that are crucial to differentiate a destination from other easily replaceable destinations.


Chichijima has attracted the attention of researchers interested in studying specific aspects of culture, such as language, as they develop in small island environments. Researchers, such as Long (2007), examine how the geographical and social factors of isolation (from the outside world) and intense contact (within the community) commonly associated with small island communities can play in the development of new language systems. Chichijima in the early years of habitation had a small, multi-ethnic population that spoke a variety of languages. The native tongues of the early settlers included English, Portuguese, Hawaiian, Chamorro and many other Pacific island languages (Long 2007: 17).

Micronesian dance scholar, Junko Konishi (2005), has written about the Micronesian influence on the Nanyou Odori, or South Seas Dance of the Ogasawara Islands. It was the early settlers, or Oubeikei (of Euro-American heritage) people of Ogasawara who brought the Micronesian-Japanese songs and the Nanyou odori to the Ogasawara Islands. The original forms of these songs and dance were the product of a cultural union between Japanese and Micronesian cultures under the Japanese administration (1914-1945). According to Konishi, the Oubeikei-Ogasawarans adopted these cultural forms, which reflected the ambiguous identity of the Japanese-educated Micronesians. Soon after it was introduced into Ogasawara in the 1930s, the Nanyou odori spread among Japanese-Ogasawarans as well, and was transformed into its Japanese form with respect to melodic movements, the pronunciation of the lyrics, and body movements (Konishi 2005).

The Micronesia connection with Chichijima can be traced back to the interaction of the early settlers who frequently visited Guam for supplies. Records dating back to the visit of Commodore Matthew C. Perry at Chichijima and later years provide a description of every day life on the island with the motley crew of islanders. The intent of Perry to make Chichijima a part of American soil via a transaction with a Chichijima resident is included in these records. Perry and his ships, the Susquehanna and the Saratoga, arrived at Chichijima on June 14, 1853 and were welcomed by residents at Futami (then called Port Lloyd). The squadron found the atmosphere refreshing compared to their recent experience in Okinawa, where Perry and his people encountered numerous restrictions imposed by the Japanese government. The surveyors, scientists, artists, and writers were able to go about their business on Chichijima free from the government surveillance that they had to endure in Okinawa. Perry had stayed aboard his flagship in Okinawa, but he ventured off when he arrived at Chichijima. Perry went ashore, met the Chief Magistrate Nathaniel Savory who was a whaler who hailed from New Bedford, Massachusetts, and bought from him for fifty dollars a stretch of land one thousand yards by five hundred, close to a place called Ten Fathom Hole, the anchorage at the north end of the harbor. This was a significant event, as the land became the first piece of territory in the Far East to come under American control. Perry intended the property to be used as a coaling station for American ships. In one day at Chichijima he had accomplished more than he had in two weeks at Okinawa. The reason was simple: here there was no government with which he had to negotiate; Savory was selling part of his private property, and Perry spoke to him as one New Englander to another (Head and Daws 1968).

By 1880, after the immigration of Japanese, the island's stores carried a variety of European and Japanese goods, and there was even a Japanese hotel. The settlement also had a sake shop that took in borders at [yen]10 per month, and there were two prostitutes described in the records of an island resident. Philip Van Buskirk, a drummer on board the USS Plymouth, who first visited the Bonin Islands in 1853, kept records on the everyday life of the islanders. Van Buskirk wrote of many of the many characters that lived on the island including a Japanese settler named Ito who was a scholar of both the Japanese and English languages, and "much respected" by the foreigners (Burg 2005: 18).

Van Buskirk's records describe the alcoholism, mayhem, family feuding, suicide, suspected poisoning, divorce, and a murder of a child that took place in Chichijima during his stay. The murder, which Van Buskirk alluded, also appeared The History of the Bonin Islands, by Cholmondeley in The History of the Bonin Islands from the Year 1827, later written in 1915 (Burg 2005: 20)

In 1889, Reverend A. F. King, an Anglican cleric, came to Chichijima and became a sort of a guide and companion for Van Buskirk during his stay. King's records show that he was interested primarily in collecting genealogical material, but he also included in the process information that was not always recorded by others and this was added to the traditional records, such as the lists of residents, records of marriages, and rosters of offspring. Available in these records are considerable data on the ethnic roots, racial composition, and national origins of Bonin islanders. King's notes state that foreign-born residents of Chichijima came from around the world, from places as diverse as Japan, Mauritius, England, Spain, Portugal, the United States, France, perhaps Sweden and Italy, Germany, Bermuda, Saipan, Hawai'i, and several other Pacific islands. When they emigrated, they went to places somewhat less diverse, places in the Pacific or on the Pacific region, such as Japan, Guam, Saipan, Hawai'i, California, and Peru (Burg 2005: 22)

The records kept by Van Buskirk and King by no means are perfect as they are fragmentary and detached. However, they are about all we have that preserves the memory of the westerners and Pacific islanders who lived in the Bonins before the arrival of the Japanese and during the earliest years of their presence (Burg 2005: 23). Although these records are vague, they do hold some very basic and valuable information for Bonin Islanders who descended from the earliest settlers. These records, as well as well as another account of Chichijima history recorded by Anglican minister Cholmondeley (1858-1945; a Christian missionary in Japan, historian and chaplain of the British Embassy in Tokyo) help us piece together historical ties between the early Chichijima settlers and the people of Guam.

In Cholmondeley's book (1915), he recounts the story of one Maria Del Los Santos y Castro (generally written Maria Dilessanto) was half Spanish, born in the Island of Guam in 1828, and brought up as a Roman Catholic. When Maria was about fifteen years old, Chichijima's John Millinchamp went to Guam and there met with Joaquina de la Cruz, Maria's aunt, whom he persuaded to leave Guam and a husband who mistreated her and to come with him on board the schooner, which lay in the harbor ready to sail for the Bonins. Maria also came on board at Joaquina's invitation, but with no other intention than to see the schooner and say good-bye to her aunt. However she never had an opportunity of going ashore again and was brought to the Bonins with Joaquina. Nobody knows whether or not she had any say in the matter of leaving Guam, but she became the wife of Mazarro, who headed the first party of colonists from Hawaii in 1830. Mazarro, at the time, was at least four times as old as Maria. Two children were born to them, John, and Reta, or Arita. John Millinchamp later relocated to Guam, where he died in 1897, leaving a wife and two children. Reta died when she was eleven years old.

Towards the end of 1850, about two years after the death of Mazarro, Maria became the wife by Nathaniel Savory to whom she bore ten children (Cholmondeley 1915). Savory, an American citizen, was one of the original settlers on the island and served as the Governor of the island. Savory was an enterprising man who had something to gain from the whalers that stopped by Chichijima for supplies. An industrious New Englander, with commercial contacts at Honolulu and other ports in the Pacific, he had built up a fortune of a few thousand dollars selling rum and supplies. By the end of the eighteen forties he was easily the richest man at Port Lloyd (Head and Daws 1968).

Today, a number of descendants of Nathaniel and Maria Savory still reside on Chichijima, now a Japanese island that is politically administered as a part of Tokyo city. Many of the Japanese residents of Chichijima are direct descendents of Maria Del Los Santos y Castro, a native from Guam, who had knowingly or unknowingly traveled from Guam to Chichijima without ever returning to her island home of Guam.


History and tourism are interconnected. Knowing about and understanding one's history builds connections between people, their place, and their history. Capturing and telling the stories of the people and their place, from hosts to visitors, strengthen these connections (See Figure 2). These stories, when linked together, reflect a regional identity and support a collective awareness of the need to protect and enhance what makes our places unique.

There has been an increasing sense of loss of historical markers in destinations (particularly in urban settings), bringing a greater sense of nostalgia in experiencing what remains. According to Light (1994), the emotion of place is dialectically connected with a sense of loss, the kind of loss that occurs as a result of change. Recognizing this, destination managers are recognizing that while tourists may be sad at what has been lost due to development, they derive pleasure from what remains or is restored. Thus, the "sense of place," which involves the telling of a destination's history can be an important link to a destination's tourist product.


The historical ties and cultural connections described above may not by themselves be enough of a pull factor to attract visitors to Guam. However, they are intriguing stories that add to the exotic and unique image of a small island destination that has ties to a major source market with visitors seeking new experiences. Chichijima has been described as Japan's "Island of Diversity" (Magnier 2002) and Guam, through its historical inter-island interactions, has played a significant role in helping Chichijima establish such an image. Chichijima is also known as "... one of Asia's earliest and oldest ethnic melting pots" (McNeill 2008) another designation adding to the exoticism of the island. Unfortunately, the history of the interaction between the islands of Chichijima and Guam is little known.

The dissemination of this history on Guam can begin with the acknowledgement of this history and the sharing of it by having both the public and private sectors working together in this effort. This can be accomplished via an educational campaign supported by the Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB), a quasi-autonomous instrumentality of the government, and the Tourism Education Council (TEC), a privately funded non-profit organization. Working with the island's schools and museums, as well as providing resources for private companies' tour coordinators' training sessions, these entities can help enhance Guam's unique image as a destination at minimal cost. GVB has recently been making an effort to target the older travelers from Japan, often called the Silver Market. This group has traditionally expressed a desire to experience more history and culture during their overseas travel, once again stressing the importance of the exotic and unique. The addition of the historical ties between Chichijima and Guam can enhance Guam's offering in this regard.

The Guam Visitors Bureau currently does not have a sister-city or sister-island relationship with any Japanese destination, although the Government of Guam has established a number of these, set up mainly for political reasons. However, GVB does have a sister-site relationship with a Two Lovers' Point site in Toi Town on the Izu Peninsula, which is linked with Guam's extremely popular, romantic Two Lovers' Point. What better reason is there for a sister island relationship than for what the islands of Guam and Chichijima have to share in history and culture? With such a relationship both islands have the potential of working together to promote their destinations while keeping alive the history of the islands.

King, in his paper on Destination Marketing Organizations, states "For destination marketers, it will be the relevance of the experience they offer the customer, rather than the destination they promote, which will be the key ingredient for success in the future" (2002: 108). The telling of Guam's history should include the link between the islands of Chichijima and Guam, and the exoticism both islands exude through this relationship. There is a relevance of this history to both hosts and guests, and that is what helps makes a destination one that stands out above others.


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Fred R. Schumann, University of Guam
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Author:Schumann, Fred R.
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Date:Sep 1, 2010
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