Tsuwano is the southernmost town in Shimane and is known as “Little Kyoto”. It is a beautiful castle town going back over seven hundred years but unfortunately the castle is in ruins (having been struck by lightning and burned down in AD 1686). Tsuwano is famous for its association with the Heron Dance and Mori Ohgai (1862 – 1922) an important novelist and poet in Japan, who was born here. He was also the director of the national museums in Tokyo, Nara and Kyoto, as well as the first director of the Japan Art Academy.
Many tourists visit Tsuwano throughout the year, but the local population is declining, especially the young generation. “Innovation For Japan” (IFJ) is a scheme to give the opportunity to students who want to support communities by organizing innovative activities for tourists and develop local products to sell. They work under the town mayor and work together with the town council. The most important aspect is that they are welcomed by the local people and work together to revitalise the town and hopefully the students can lift the spirits of the local people.