Casual conversation blames a portion of the drop in the number of Japanese tourist on the lack of offerings that highlight the local culture. A small business wants to change that.
Bojobo Doll Co., which specializes in small doll-like trinkets that are unique to the Marianas, hopes to do all it can to possibly entice Japanese tourists to return to Saipan.
According to Rommel Crisostomo, owner of the Bojobo Doll Co., he and his wife started their doll-making business in the early 2000s and has become a signature staple in the representation of the Commonwealth.
The unique bojobo wish dolls are unique souvenirs made from high quality products like bojobo seeds and coconuts and the process of making one doll could take up to an hour, depending on the size.
These dolls are currently sold in popular tourist shops like I Love Saipan, Joeten Supermarkets, ABC Store, and more.
Crisostomo said their business thrived during the days when the majority of tourists were Japanese.
Today, the dolls are still selling but not as much as it used to during the days when Japanese tourists visited the island in droves.
In a previous article, Saipan Tribune quoted Japanese Consul Kinji Shinoda as saying that, from a tourist point of view, he understands why Japanese tourists no longer visit Saipan as much.
Shinoda said that when he visits a place, he loves to bring home trinkets that represent the place he has visited.
Unfortunately, upon visiting the numerous souvenir shops here, he was saddened to see that he could only find basic souvenir items like shirts, sandals, etc.
Shinoda said he encourages the islands to let the rich indigenous culture shine and for the islands to sell the culture, along with the scenery.
According to Crisostimo, that is what he and his wife strives to do. The bojobo dolls are not only sold in stores to possibly bring back the Japanese tourist market, but entice other markets like the Chinese and Korean. He said they have also started working with tour agencies to offer bojobo making demos as an activity.
Crisostimo said he, his wife, and his staff will continue to produce quality bojobo dolls because it’s not only their business, but because it’s one of the rare souvenirs that are authentically made in the Commonwealth and they wish to continue to preserve its existence.
The Bojobo Doll Shop in Susupe is accepting both tourists and local residents to come and experience how the unique bojobo wish dolls are made.