Appearing the Wall Street Journal yesterday was an article discussing a subculture in Japan called kojo moe, or “factory infatuation,” whereby folks obsessively flock to industrial towns to view industrial complexes– plants, factories, oil refineries– in their grandiose size and scale. The enthusiasm is less about the inner workings of the plants, what they do inside or are able to dye cut, and so much more about the intricate exterior that is shown from the outside with mazes of piping and seas of smokestacks. “For factory towns across Japan, it’s a rare foray into tourism. The city of Kawasaki, the gritty neighbor to cosmopolitan Tokyo, started offering bus tours of factory sites last year. Some tours sell out in less than a day, receiving some 400 requests for 40 spots.”
Uh, news flash: Detroit has got a few of these industrial complexes laying around. How about we champion the American birth of industrial tourism drawing in people to see the modern marvels that once (quite literally) drove the country. If we can’t convince Americans to see the beauty in such a maze of industrial ingenuity, then heck, let’s just make this form of tourism available for the same Japanese folks that enjoy it in their own country. If they are enjoying the “gritty” nature of Kawasaki, chances are they would fancy a few things about Detroit, too. Keep in mind that one of Detroit Metro’s direct international routes is to Tokyo– wow, the possibility! Not only could all this be interesting from a visual perspective, but it also provides a historically significant narrative about the evolution of American industry. In no other city in the country are industrial remnants as in your face and accessible as they are in Detroit. Package tours are being formulated as we speak.