Ms. Taeko UEDA


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Ms. Taeko UEDA

I have been assigned to be the Madrid tourism representative of the City of Tokyo. In 1989 I decided to quit working in Tokyo and chose the way to go studying in Spain.  I do not remember why I chose Spain, but at the time I was eager to do something to lead to self-betterment.  I had to go through many difficulties such as learning Spanish language, communication and cultural differences, but after a few months later, I gained a better understanding of Spain, its language, culture and diversity.  After my studies I returned to Japan and worked for South American embassies as a freelance translator.  Then I met my husband, working as an attendant for a Spanish visitor and this made it happened to me to leave for Spain again.  I lived in the Basque area of Northern Spain and worked as a translator for the first few years, then moved to Madrid.  There, I worked for a Japanese travel agency. 

In 2004, I accepted the proposal from Madrid council to make a blue print of  "Plan Japon (Japan Project)".

Through interviews with Japanese living in Madrid, Japanese subsidiaries established in Madrid, Japanese travel agencies and official organism, as well as surveys to Japanese tourist visiting Madrid, I completed the document "Plan Japón del Ayuntamiento de Madrid". The document proposes the guidelines and actions to promote both Japanese tourism and Japanese investments in Madrid. The project has been kicked off and it's being implemented successfully.

It was typical for Spanish people to spend their vacation going to the beaches in Spain and relaxing rather than traveling abroad. The image Spanish people always get when they hear Japan is "far" and "high cost of living" and image of Tokyo for them is "elephant city bustled with many people".  It seems that they needed to be put on their mettle to visit exotic Asia, where the language, the food and the custom are very different from their own.  However, Spain is getting to be affluent with economic growth recently and be more tolerant to different cultures. Before, Spanish people used to be striking a sour note even when they are asked to eat raw fish.  Nowadays you can find sushi in the local supermarket.  Because the number of foreign immigrants has increased Spain is rapidly turning to be multicultural country.  I believe it is effective to take advantage of this current situation to promote the City of Tokyo.

Asking Japanese people what images to get when they hear Spain, their typical answers are "bullfighting", "flamenco", and "country blessed with sunshine".  This shows that we don't know that much about it indeed even though it seems much information of each foreign countries has been penetrated into our society. 

My roles as a representative is to fill this gap caused by a lack of information, and to inform the real charm of Tokyo and Japan through travel agencies and media to draw their more attention to Tokyo and Japan, and to encourage them to choose Tokyo as their holiday destination. 

It is always my dream to be a cultural bridge between two countries.  Tokyo is my original hometown, and now Spain has become my second hometown.  Therefore, it is my pleasure to introduce my hometown, Tokyo to people in Spain.  I do my best to achieve this assignment, but also all of your cooperation and support is very much appreciated.