I have wanted to visit Japan for as long as I can remember. Sadly, the last few years of work travel never took me there. And now that we are in a pandemic, I’m really not sure when I’ll be able to go. One thing is for sure, I am always on the lookout for exciting and safe opportunities to visit Japan when things begin to open back up.
Here is a list of new things to look forward to in Japan in 2021, courtesy of the Japan National Tourism Organization.
A serene escape just two hours by train from Tokyo, Nikko has become popular thanks to its vast nature and spiritual atmosphere. Top destinations include the Nikko National Park, which is most famous for the Toshogu shrine, Japan’s most lavishly decorated shrine, which hosts the 1,000 Samurai Procession festival each year. The region is also home to the oldest resort hotel in Japan, Nikko Kanaya Hotel, which opened in June 1873.
What’s New: Nikko has recently welcomed a number of major hotels, including Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Nasu in November 2019, the Ritz-Carlton Nikko in July 2020, and Fufu Nikko in October 2020. Located along Lake Chuzenji, the Ritz-Carlton features a traditional onsen, a lakefront terrace, a Zen rock garden, and a minimalist design. Fufu Nikko, located next to the Tamozawa Memorial Park, offers private open-air baths in each room sourced from the hotel’s hot spring, as well as local Japanese cuisine.
Japan’s Mie Prefecture is largely known for its religious monuments (such as the sacred Ise-jingu Shrine) and its ninja history. Today, travelers can visit the Ninja Museum of Igaryu, watch ninjutsu masters demonstrate their techniques, or even join a ninja training course at the Akame 48 Waterfalls.
What’s New: In Spring 2021, a new luxury campground called Nordisk Hygge Circles will open. Located amongst towering trees and roaring waterfalls, the wellness-focused resort provides a sustainable glamping experience. Designed by Japanese-Danish architecture team Third Nature (who won a regenerative tourism competition launched by Danish outdoor gear company Nordisk), the campsite will feature a “learning field” for nature-inspired excursions.
The city that hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics has developed a reputation as one of the most sought-after ski resorts in Japan. In addition to its sports legacy, the rugged region is home to several noted cultural sites, including Zenkoji, one of Japan’s most popular temples, and Togakushi Shrine, a collection of three mountain shrines.
What’s New: Nagano welcomed the sleek glamping resort, FIELD SUITE, in Spring 2020. The all-inclusive property was designed by Kengo Kuma in collaboration with Snow Peak, an outdoor brand. Surrounded by majestic mountainous landscape, FIELD SUITE offers activities for all seasons, in the form of hiking, onsen-going, and skiing in some of Japan’s most sought-after locations. Accommodations consist of contemporary rustic tents opening to expansive wooden decks, or similarly rustic cabins. Meals are served by a Japanese chef who specializes in Italian cuisine using fresh local produce, with each dish paired with local wines from Nagano.