From 2020 to early 2023, visiting Japan was a distant dream for a majority of vacationers.
As the nation grappled with the results of a well being disaster, most international vacationers have been routinely barred from entry, together with U.S. passport holders.
After practically three years, nonetheless, the nation lastly slammed its doorways open and commenced welcoming guests once more with out restrictions. It’s no shock it shot straight to the top ten of Google’s Most Searched Destinations, able it hadn’t held shortly.
Bookings for Japan have elevated dramatically since, and if the latest travel trends are something to go by, it might be set for a really phenomenal 2024.
Amid the renewed Japanophilia, you should still be questioning why the East Asian nation is all of a sudden so common, once more, particularly when different Asian international locations that additionally adopted restrictive measures, equivalent to China, are but to see as sturdy a rebound on the worldwide tourism entrance.
Why Is Japan So Popular Right Now?
Japan has traditionally been one of many high locations for Americans within the Asian continent, owing to their shut historic ties, the unshakable Japanese-American camaraderie, and, in fact, the nation’s awe-inspiring tradition.
This is all previous information.
We aren’t right here to regurgitate previously-written pieces on how thrilling Tokyo is, Osaka’s world-class museums, or Kyoto’s picturesque cobbled alleys and centuries-old temples which were left nearly untouched by two devastating world wars.
Of course, Japan’s perennial sights an essential function within the nation’s resurgence, however that in itself doesn’t account solely for a record-breaking return to pre-crisis tourism ranges in only a few months, contemplating the broader reopening solely passed off final April.
So why, then, are vacationers all of a sudden so invested in Japan?
It goes with out saying that a part of it has to do with the re-established flight connections between Japan and America, Europe, and a lot of the world, following a lot of years of severed ties and, thus, a drastic discount in journey demand, however we’re digging a little bit deeper right here.
In getting ready for its post-crisis relaunch, Japan is vastly diversifying its vacationer supply.
Japan Is More Incredible Than It Ever Was
Overtourism was a serious concern for Japanese authorities earlier than the pandemic struck, primarily as a result of journey demand was restricted to a few main locations, with all ‘ultimate’ Japan itineraries together with the aforementioned Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto trio, and they’re eager on avoiding that.
Now, the Government is selling a bunch of lesser-known spots vacationers have been beforehand oblivious to.
Some of the brand new focus areas embrace Ishikawa, one of many nation’s unsung foodie hotspots and maybe the most effective vacation spot for sampling Japanese seafood and all its variations, and Wakayama, which marks the beginning of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route.
Crisscrossing the Kii Peninsula, this mountainous footpath surrounded by unspoiled nature results in all Three Grand Shrines of Kumano, a triad of massively essential spiritual websites courting again centuries, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that shall be celebrating its 20 years on the checklist in 2024.
As acknowledged by Miho Oguri, Marketing and Communications Manager at JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization), their focus subsequent 12 months is to advertise Japan’s ‘regional areas’ to ‘let travelers see more of the variety of cultures in-depth’.
Other initiatives embrace the opening of a whopping 370km path traversing at the very least three nationwide parks in jap Hokkaido, providing entry to conventional villages and unheard-of pure wonders, and serving to adventurous vacationers attain ‘deep Japan’.
Japan’s recognition growth can be defined by seasonal journey fatigue.
A Year-Round Destination
For years, Japan has been often known as a springtime vacation spot, as it’s when cherry blossoms spring up of their vibrant colours, and far of the nation’s inbound tourism is concentrated between the months of March and May.
In 2023, these dynamics modified.
Summer has introduced extra full of life out of doors festivals; a sudden spike in bookings was seen throughout the fall period, dubbed the ‘new springtime’ for Japan because of the smaller crowds and luxurious foliage, which rivals cherry blossoms in magnificence, and even winter journey is gaining traction.
Japan is just not a widely-known snow and ski vacation spot, however the weaker yen, and the largely underdeveloped Japanese highlands are actually luring extra traders, with a number of infrastructure initiatives and vacationer services popping up.
This December, a brand new 78-key ski resort is opening its doorways in Furano, within the so-called ‘belly button’ of Northern Hokkaido, a minimalist design, and rooms in comforting wood tones that can actually assist American guests get within the temper for a winter getaway in Japan.
The Nozo Hotel is amongst Japan’s most hotly-anticipated openings this 12 months, as it’s set in opposition to the pristine white panorama of Hokkaido Island’s mountainous North, and it’s geared up with a spa, the place chilly water dips and saunas can be found, and stylish eating places and cocktail bars.
Nozo is 2 hours away from Chitose International Airport, serving Sapporo, and a good shorter one-hour drive from the home Asahikawa Airport.
In 2024, extra luxurious retreats shall be bowing, together with Japan’s first-ever Rosewood itemizing within the tropical Miyakojima Island, well-known for its golden sand seashores and turquoise seas, and a Six Senses in charming Kyoto.
As Oguri reiterated, authorities are pushing for Japan to grow to be a ‘year-round vacation spot‘.
Finally, there’s the truth that Japan is turning into cheaper to journey.
Not solely has the Government greenlit a lot of initiatives that make it simpler for vacationers to discover Japan on a funds, equivalent to a brand new one-day journey cross for Eastern locations, however the Japanese foreign money itself – the yen – is now weaker than it was pre-2019.
Regarding the brand new cross, it’s an all-you-can-ride ticket for all JR East-operated strains.
Unfortunately, these don’t cowl the standard Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka-Hiroshima itinerary, nevertheless it does permit holders limitless journey between locations equivalent to Aomori, Sendai, Kanazawa, Nagano, Niigata and Morioka, six of Japan’s most fascinating off-path gems.
With tickets beginning at simply 10,000 yen, or solely $70.53 on the present trade fee, you may even hop on a shinkansen bullet practice line to get to your most popular locations quicker.
As for the yen, this 12 months, it’s reached new lows in opposition to the greenback, buying and selling at a threshold of ¥150, when in 2019, previous to the well being disaster, it equaled solely ¥109.
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This article initially appeared on TravelOffPath.com