The inbound tourism market has experienced a sustained increase in recent years in the Asia-Pacific region, becoming second only to Europe. In this context of growth and increasing competition, the Japanese government has established as one of its main tourism development goals to increase international visitors, in particular in regional communities which are in need of economic revitalization. To tackle this challenge, the national authorities have established a Destination Management Organization (DMO) registration system in order to improve tourism branding, stakeholder involvement and human resources. In this exploratory paper, an empirical study of a registered candidate DMO is examined, as well as its responses and experiences related to the registration system. Conclusions show that the Japanese DMO system is unclear on aspects such as funding and that some requirements for registration may be challenging for smaller DMOs located in rural areas.