Onyango Omolo @PeopleDailyKe
An envoy has praised a Japanese wildlife photographer, who in 2005 was appointed Kenya’s tourism goodwill ambassador, for promoting Kenya as a tourist destination in Japan.
Kenya’s ambassador to Japan, Solomon Maina, expressed his appreciation for Michio Hiraiwa, 83, and daughter Masayo Hiraiwa, 58, tireless efforts to promote Kenya’s tourism by organising tours to Kenya.
“Hiraiwa’s commitment to promote Kenya as a tourist destination has significantly contributed to the increased visitors flow to the country. As chairman of the Media, Culture and Tourism committee of the African Diplomatic Corps (ADC) in Japan, I am proud of Hiraiwa and daughter Masayo. I always request them to talk about Kenya’s tourism at the Tea Seminar at the embassy and also about Kenya’s high quality tea,” said Ambassador Maina.
The father and daughter were appointed goodwill ambassadors by the Kenya government in 2005 and have since been holding a number of photo exhibitions and lectures in Japan on Kenyan wildlife, besides organising talk shows about the charm of Kenya on television and radio programmes in Japan.
The duo is currently visiting in the company of 16 Japanese tourists. The entourage will have an overnight stay at the Hilton Nairobi before spending two nights at the Oltukai Lodge in Amboseli National Park. They will then have a night’s stay at the Mountain Lodge (Mt Kenya National Park) followed by another night at the Lake Nakuru Lodge (Lake Nakuru National Park).
The group will then spend two nights at the Mara Simba Lodge (Masai Mara National Reserve and another night at the Mara Serena Lodge (Masai Mara National Reserve). They are scheduled to spend their last night at the Hilton Nairobi, before flying back to Japan via Doha aboard Qatar Airways.
Hiraiwa is visiting for his 161st time and the daughter 151st. On the current tour, there are a number of repeating visitors among them Fumika Takaramura (13 times), Kazuo Nakamura (four times); and Hiroshi Kohno, Fumiko Fujiki, Mika Hatano, Hidenori Fuseya and Kazumi Fuseya, making their second visit.
But one outstanding member of the group is a renowned Japanese chef, Hiroyuki Sakai, who owns a top French restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, and has been dreaming of coming to Kenya with the Hiaiwas for the last five years.
The duo traditionally visit the country twice a year in March and August under the auspices of the Hiraiwa Africa Tour which they started in 1977. The tour has guided more than 4,000 Japanese tourists to Kenya to sample the country’s rich wildlife heritage.