Tokyo-based Cinra, the Japanese startup behind several popular cultural media sites and a website production business, launched their new online “bilingual city guide”, HereNow, in June. Cinra previously released an online curated cultural Tokyo guide called 100 Tokyo in 2013 in association with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry which was the predecessor to HereNow.
As of now, HereNow features just three cities, Tokyo, Okinawa, and Singapore, but has plans to expand to other popular cities in Japan as well as in other Asian countries. HereNow’s website is currently available in English and Japanese.
HereNow highlights cultural hotspots in each city which are indicated with maps, and includes interviews with local residents. Using HereNow’s menu, users are able to register their favorite places.
Many of our readers may be familiar with TimeOut magazine, another publication that features information about various travel destinations. In comparison, HereNow’s approach is more aimed at introducing restaurants, shops, and events through the eyes of local creatives and editors who actual live in those cities.
Unlike conventional travel guide sites offering content targeting the masses, HereNow introduces hotspots and activities that only local people are familiar with as well as what tourists may prefer. This trend is evident in the recent vibrancy in online services offering experience-based content.
Unlike conventional travel guide sites offering content targeting the average tourist, HereNow introduces hotspots and activities that tourists will enjoy but probably only local people would be familiar with. This seems to be part of an trend of increasingly firsthand experience-based content being offered through online services.
Another thing that makes HereNow unique is its members-only function that allows users to register their favorite locations on the map. While we are seeing more media sites in this genre beginning to offer offline services for their members, HereNow’s combination of offline services in addition to online services such as those mentioned, may prove to be a step ahead of the competition.
HereNow can be likened to New York-based Daily Secret, a startup that delivers travel information via blog posts and newsletters and who recently raised $2.2 million in funding.
It is uncertain how Cinra will expand its service, but they may be able to attract various outside businesses to the service if they are able to build a significant user base by offering quality content that attracts the right demographic.
With an already increasing number of visitors coming to Japan, the ASEAN Economic Community will be established this year with the aim of accelerating the flow goods, people, and services throughout the region in hopes of fostering a more vibrant economy. This may result in a rise of the Creative Class in Asia, increasing demand for cultural information resources such as HereNow.
The question now is – how can this Japanese company attract attention throughout Asia with this new project? We will be following this story with great interest as it unfolds.
Translated by Chieko Frost via Mother First
Edited by Masaru Ikeda and Kurt Hanson