Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) launches a new Insider Guide to Japan, celebrating the country’s many traditions, innovations, natural wonders,and off–the–beaten–track adventures. 2021 is a landmark year for Japan as Tokyo gears–up to host the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games – and the country is set to be one of top travel destinations.
Japan is an archipelago of some 6,852 islands; a country that not only offers breath–taking scenery, great wildlife, a rich cultural heritage, fast–paced city life, world–class cuisine,and a reputation for warm hospitality, but – crucially in this time – also has a long–standing tradition of wellness, cleanliness,and hygiene. Japan has one of the healthiest populations in the world, ranking second globally in terms of life expectancy. (Source: United Nations, “World Population Prospects 2019).
It is no coincidence that the Japanese word for clean –kirei –also means beautiful: a notion so deeply ingrained in the national psyche that it permeates every aspect of everyday life from greeting one another with a respectful bow to leaving shoes on the doorstep. Japan ranks as the fifth largest “wellcation” destination in the world:
a land of tranquil temples and shrines, inspiring landscapes, delicious healthy food and of course the time-honored tradition of onsen. And so for those desperate to travel, Japan offers the perfect balance of adventure, freedom, solitude,and intrigue: an opportunity to finally tick off that bucket-list destination and immerse yourself in another culture, comfortable in the knowledge that Japan has gone above and beyond in terms of due diligence for visitor safety. (Source:Global Wellness Institute, “Global Wellness Tourism Economy Report” November 2018).
JNTO will launch a series of newsletters featuring the most exciting things to see and do in Japan from this April. JNTO’s newsletters will serve as an insider’s guide to Japan’s many traditions and innovations.
Given the breadth and volume of tourist attractions, destinations and experiences across the country – and the comprehensive analysis of inbound tourism trends – JNTO categorizes Japan’s travel offering into seven passions: each united by the theme that motivates travel. These seven passions span Cuisine, Outdoors, Relaxation, Nature, Tradition, Art, and Cities.
Content will encompass Japan’s 10 regions and the many World Heritage Sites, natural wonders, bustling cities, and year-round calendar of traditional matsuri (festival) that set Japan apart as a top destination, including:
● Nature–From hiking the Kumano KodoTrail or Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route to rowing down the mythical Takachiho Gorge or trying your hand at the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) in Akasawa Natural Recreational Forest, Japan offers the ultimate escape for those looking to immerse themselves in nature. Across the Japanese archipelago, there are some 36 National Parks offering a remarkable variety of wildlife, including the hauntingly beautiful Japanese storks,and the famous bathing snow monkeys.
● Outdoors–Japan’s natural wonders offer all manner of exhilarating activities to stir the heart of any outdoor enthusiast. Think: diving in pristine ocean waters, paragliding over dunes, rafting down rapids, canyoning on the Tone River, paddle-boarding through the famous shrine gates of Miyajima, or log-riding down the Kitayama River.
● Tradition–Japan is a nation uniquely in touch with its past. Its rich cultural heritage is not just admired from afar, but actively appreciated: most evidently across the country’s 36 World Heritage Sites. Japan’s approach to history and heritage makes for a truly transformative travel experience: become a ninja for the day, participate in yamabushi (the mountain ascetic tradition), live like a Japanese Buddhist monk, or train with a true mountain mystic in Yamagata.
● Cuisine–With 863 Michelin–star restaurants(22of them three–star) Japan is one of the world’s top foodie destinations and its culinary offering is one indelibly tied to the land, the seasons,and the people. Watch the day’s catches hauled in at a historic fishing village, enjoy the hospitality of Japan’s ama (the traditional free–divers), stay overnight in the green tea heartlands, dine in a snow hut, learn how to create edible art at a wagashi workshop,or go behind the scenes and see how sake is brewed.
● Relaxation –stunning natural beauty meets a time–honored spirit of hospitality across Japan, making it the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern day life. Practice the Japanese tradition of onsen (bathing in hot water springs), camp under the stars on the Go to Islands, experience the Japanese way of life first hand on a traditional home stay,or check into one of Japan’s world–class award–winning spa hotels.
● Art –Japan’s art scene is a fascinating fusion of the ancient and modern; the natural and man–made. Visit the 41–acre creatively landscaped Adachi Museum of Art–voted the best Japanese garden in the world –or explore the Benesse Art Site Naoshima project: a collection of interactive works across three different islands. Book a stay at Niigata’s House of Light: part work of art; part unique guesthouse –the ultimate immersive experience, set in Japan’s snow country.
● Cities–Japan’s urban landscapes offer a living, breathing microcosm of the nation’s past, present and future; a melting pot where age–old traditions coexist alongside modern technology. Think high–tech 3D art collectives, ancient waterways, underground temples, abandoned cities,and the world’s longest suspension bridge.
The Japanese archipelago is home to a remarkable variety of regional cultures, natural splendor, and man–made wonders, both old and new. It is a place where you can feel the passage of time and genuinely create lasting memories. Month by month, let us lead you off the beaten path to idyllic villages, pristine forests, ancient temples and buzzing metropolises: deep into Japan’s heart and soul.
JNTO has launched “Experiences in Japan,” a website that showcases activities based on these Seven Passions.This collection of curated experiences offers a window into the heart and soul of Japan:a series of exciting – and largely unknown activities and destinations. See here for more information.
While preparing these attractions in anticipation of inbound travel resuming once again, JNTO is also taking a number of COVID-19 measures to ensure absolute peace of mind for international visitors. These new initiatives are available on our website.Steps include multilingual pictograms to summarize information on the country’s precautions against COVID-19 infection as well as emergency response contacts and procedures. See here for more information.
Seino Satoshi, president of the Japan National Tourism Organization, said:
Tokyo 2020 will begin from July 23 this year. Taking place ten years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the torch relay, which has already started in Fukushima prefecture, will see torchbearers connect throughout Japan, showing people all over the world how the nation has recovered.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is currently not possible to enter Japan for travel, and I regret to hear that it has been decided to hold the games without overseas spectators. However, I firmly believe that humankind will overcome this crisis and tourist traffic will resume again.
Japan is often associated with big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, Mt. Fuji, cherry blossoms, ninjas,and anime. In addition to these attractions, Japan consists of more than 6,000 islands which stretch over 3,000 km from north to south, and has a varied topography, with forests occupying about 70% of its land. It is a land of forests and mountains where you can celebrate beautiful nature.
Over the last five years Japan has become one of the world’s leading travel destinations, with annual visitors growing to over 30 million before the pandemic.
Across diverse categories such as nature, food, culture, and art, there are abundant tourism opportunities in provincial areas that are not yet known to the world. Throughout this campaign we will showcase many undiscovered charms of Japan, reflecting and responding to future tourism trends.
While we will miss you this summer,we promise that our time apart will make travel experiences all the more exciting when cross-border travel is resumed. We are looking forward to seeing you in Japan.