Posts tagged with "japan travel"

travel illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Japan’s Most Unique Museums

With an incredibly rich history, it’s no wonder that Japan has more than 5,700 museums across its 47 prefectures; and with so many to choose from, travelers are bound to find some unexpected surprises among them. Below are some of Japan’s most interesting museums that travelers can visit, once travel restrictions are lifted.

Cup Noodles Museum – Kanagawa Prefecture
A fun destination for kids and adults, the Cup Noodles Museum in Kanagawa Prefecture is full of exciting activities. Along with interesting exhibitions, such as a replica of the shed where instant noodles were invented and a small collection of modern art pieces made from Cup Noodles, visitors can make their own personalized cup noodle at the My Cup Noodles Factory. At the My Chicken Ramen workshop, guests can make their own instant ramen noodles from scratch. The Noodles Bazaar also gives visitors a chance to try out nine different noodle dishes.

Towel Museum of Art – Ehime Prefecture
An incredibly unique institution, the Towel Museum of Art in Ehime Prefecture is the world’s first towel museum dedicated to the art of towel manufacturing. Inside, visitors can find galleries and displays showcasing intricate traditional towels, art made from towels and an exhibition on the towel-making process. The museum gift shop features a wide array of original goods and local products available for purchase.

TOTO Museum – Fukuoka Prefecture
Japan’s famous TOTO brand is best known for its bathware and in celebration of its 100th anniversary, the TOTO Museum was opened in 2017. The elegant two-story building leads visitors through the history of TOTO, especially focusing on the evolution of its toilets. From the first ceramic flush toilet seat that was developed in 1914, to modern toilets with bidets and heated seats, guests can learn about the company’s evolution, spanning more than a decade. While the museum’s signage is in Japanese, visitors can download the museum’s app for an English audio guide or to translate the signs.

Omiya Bonsai Art Museum – Saitama Prefecture
Located in the heart of the Omiya Bonsai Village, the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum is home to more than 120 bonsai masterpieces and bonsai-related artifacts, such as woodblock prints, books, bonsai pots and more. Art pieces are selected in accordance with the season and around 50 pots of bonsai are always on display in the garden and gallery. After visiting the museum, travelers can wander around the village and check out local artisans and stores. The village was originally founded in 1925 when the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 forced bonsai nurseries and garden industry workers in central Tokyo to relocate.

Yokote Masuda Manga Museum – Akita Prefecture
The first manga-themed museum in Japan, the Yokote Masuda Manga Museum showcases the artwork from manga artists across Japan and the world. The museum houses around 400,000 original illustrations from around 100 artists in the permanent exhibitions. The museum also pays honor to the works of Takao Yaguchi, whose work helped highlight Akita Prefecture and attracted visitors. Guests can enjoy a large library of manga and read to their heart’s content for free.

For updates on travel restrictions to Japan, please visit this website.

ABOUT JAPAN NATIONAL TOURISM ORGANIZATION (JNTO)

As the official tourism board of Japan, JNTO is involved in a wide range of promotional activities to encourage international travelers to visit Japan. Through a variety of campaigns and initiatives, JNTO is inspiring more American travelers to visit Tokyo, Kyoto and beyond.

For more information about travel to Japan, visit JNTO on its WebsiteFacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Travel illustration by Maria Soloman for 360 Magazine

TREEHOUSES, SAMURAI HOMES & KIMONO RETREATS

With Japan on the top of many travelers’ bucket lists once travel restrictions are lifted, the country is expecting a tourism boom like no other. This has lead to the creation of many new hotels and resorts, particularly located outside of Tokyo and Kyoto. Along with new properties to open in 2021, many hotels that have opened in 2020 with unique experiences and offerings, and are eager to welcome international guests. Below is a sampling of some of the most unique hotels in Japan:

wanoi KAKUNODATE – Akita Prefecture-Opened March 13, 2020
Renovated from a historical storehouse, wanoi KAKUNODATE offers travelers a step back in time. The town of Kakunodate was known as “Little Kyoto” for samurai residences. Each of the three rooms at wanoi KAKUNODATE highlights this incredible history. The Nishinomiyake Bushigura room, inspired by the ancestor of the Nishinomiya family who was a highly regarded samurai at the time, echoes his story through its design, including tactile tools once used by samurai. The Nishinomiyake Gakkogura room was originally a storehouse for pickles. Guests can experience that history by taking a bath in a repurposed pickle barrel bathtub. The Tanmonogura room is located right next to the samurai residence street. It stands as the oldest of the three storehouses, originally built in the late Edo period.

The pickle bathtub in the Nichinomiyake Gakkogura room at wanoi KAKUNODATE (© East Japan Railway Company), Geoffrey Weill Associates, the Japan National Tourism Organization for 360 Magazine

Nordisk Hygge Circles – Mie Prefecture-Opening Spring 2021
Located in Japan’s Mie Prefecture amidst towering trees and roaring waterfalls, the Nordisk Hygge Circles is a new luxury campground. The campground is intended to be a healing space for guests, while providing a sustainable camping experience. The Nordisk Hygge Circles was designed by Japanese-Danish architecture team Third Nature, who won a regenerative tourism competition launched by Danish outdoor gear company Nordisk. The campsite will consist of three main areas: a rest area with reservable circular cabins and glamping tents, a “learning field” for nature-inspired excursions and workshops, and an area where guests can pitch their own tents.

Nordisk Hygge Circles in Mie Prefecture (© Third Nature, Structured Environment, Henrik Innovation), The Japan National Tourism Organization, Geoffrey Weill Associates, for 360 Magazine

Nipponia Shirataka Former House of Okuyama – Yamagata Prefecture-Opening April 2021
Renovated from a house that was previously owned by a distinguished Japanese family in the silk production business, this “kimono retreat hotel” offers guests an escape in the rural town of Shirataka while experiencing Japan’s kimono culture. The hotel will span 8,000 square meters with five different buildings and eight guest rooms. Owned by Tomihiro, a 400-year-old kimono fabrics store, the retreat allows guests to partake in traditional craft and local lifestyle activities.

NIPPONIA Shirataka Former House of Okuyama  (© 2021 NIPPONIA Shirataka), Geoffrey Weill Associates, and Japan National Tourism Organization for 360 Magazine

Treeful Treehouse EcoResort-Okinawa Prefecture-Opening Spring 2021
Located in Nago city, in the north of Okinawa island, the Treeful Treehouse EcoResort lives by the ethos of ‘sustainable luxury.’ Using minimal electricity produced solely by solar power, the resort features a number of sleek and design-forward treehouses that are seamlessly integrated with nature. One is completely suspended with 360-degrees views and contemporary interior design, built on the side of Genka River–considered one of the clearest waters in Japan. A passionate environmental project, the resort has engaged with Okinawa locals on various initiatives, including removing man-made concrete to restore the natural landscape, and re-building a watermill in an effort to “improve their area environmentally, culturally, and economically.”

Treeful Treehouse EcoResort in Okinawa (© Treeful Treehouse EcoResort), Geoffrey Weill Associates, and Japan National Tourism Organization for 360 Magazine

Fauchon Hotel Kyoto-Opening March 16, 2021
A meeting of two worlds, the Fauchon Hotel Kyoto, from the famous French gourmet food company Fauchon, will stand as the company’s first hotel outside of Paris. The hotel will open in the center of Kyoto with 59 guest rooms and suites. Along with its iconic Pâtisserie & Boutique Fauchon, Fauchon Hotel Kyoto will be home to a variety of restaurants and bars, including Salon de Thé Fauchon and Le Grand Café Fauchon. The hotel will also be home to Le Spa Fauchon, which will offer a wide range of body and face treatments.

Rendering of the Grand Café at the Fauchon Hotel Kyoto, Geoffrey Weill Associates, and Japan National Tourism Organization for 360 Magazine

For updates on travel restrictions to Japan, please visit this website

Setouchi Cominca Stays Recognized by UNESCO

Setouchi Cominca Stays, a unique collection of traditional Japanese kominca homes that have been lovingly restored and transformed into exclusive-use, modern vacation rentals, exemplify many of the 17 traditional Japanese architectural techniques now recognized on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

Of the 17 newly enshrined techniques, many are on display for guests of the traditional kominka homes in the Setouchi Cominca Stays portfolio.  In the 19th-century merchant town of Uchiko in Ehime Prefecture, Setouchi Cominca Stays has preserved and restored two historic homes in the Yokaichi and Gokoku Quarters of Old Town.  As the two homes, named Hisa and Ori, are located in a preservation district, the restoration of their outer walls, which hewed closely to the traditional architectural style of the other preserved merchant buildings of Uchiko, are a prime example of the recognized technique of “restoration of traditional buildings.” And both houses’ roofs exemplify “roofing with kawara tiles,” while the method of Shinkabe-zukuri plastering used in both properties are examples of “decoration of traditional structures.

In the remote hamlet of Shobara in Hiroshima Prefecture, the Setouchi Cominca Stays collection is made up of three historic farmhouses – the 100-year-old Furosen, 150-year-old Kozako-Mori and 250-year-old Chojaya.  All three are one-story wooden houses with wooden posts that rest on natural stone foundations, with no bolts or screws used to secure the posts in place – an example of “traditional woodworking techniques for structures.”  And the Chojaya and Kozako-Mori homes both feature traditional thatched roofs, another of the newly recognized UNESCO techniques. The Furosen and Chojaya properties also exhibit traditional lacquer techniques on their floors and ceilings.

“Many kominka have been abandoned and properties left vacant are at risk of being destroyed; but this would mean an irreplaceable loss of culture and heritage,” says Mr. Yo Kimura, General Manager of Setouchi Cominca Stays. “Built using sophisticated traditional techniques, they cannot be rebuilt using modern materials once torn down. Instead, reimagining vacant kominka as new lodgings for travelers will help protect these residences and preserve a crucial part of the region’s history and culture. Our project seeks to revitalize the tourism industry in the Setouchi region by creating new opportunities for employment and drawing more visitors to these rural areas.” 

The new recognition of traditional Japanese techniques used in wooden architecture, announced by UNESCO last month, is Japan’s 22nd listing on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List, which also includes Japanese paper and cuisine.

ADVENTURES IN MIYAGI PREFECTURE

Known as the “Land of Contrasts,” Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture is home to a variety of outdoor activities for travelers to enjoy. From cycling to surfing and even paragliding, Miyagi’s wide range of landscapes has no shortage of opportunities to try something new. Below are a few places travelers can dream of visiting when travel restrictions are lifted.

With a variety of biking trails to choose from, Miyagi is the perfect place to cycle through paths that stop by some of the prefecture’s most famous sights. For coastal views, Oshika Peninsula offers more than 40 miles of rolling hills and coastal panoramas, including a view of Kinkasan Island, a majestic island home to sacred deer that roam about the island freely. In the countryside, Marumori Loop is a popular cycling spot for locals. The low plains offer excellent views of the mountains, charming villages and rice fields. Experienced bikers can cycle through the mountainous wilderness of Mount Zao. These incredibly remote passes are grueling but are totally worth it for the beautiful scenery, secluded hot springs and countryside cafes.

Speaking of Mount Zao, the region is one of Miyagi’s best destinations for outdoor adventures. Skiers and snowboarders can opt to tackle the remote slopes on their own, but a guide is considered essential for anyone not trained in winter mountaineering and acquainted with the terrain of Mount Zao. Luckily, M’s Guide is a winter mountain guide service based at Sumikawa Snow Park and can tailor any outdoor excursion for guests.

For watersports, three-time paragliding national champion Takeshige Yamaya offers tandem paragliding experiences in Matsushima Bay, perfect for travelers to experience one of the Three Most Scenic Spots in Japan. Setravelndai and even Mount Zao can also be seen from the sky. In Sendai, Barefoot Surf offers a variety of SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) and surfing excursions for any skill level.

Travelers looking to spend the night outdoors can stay at the Fukiage Kogen Campground in Northern Miyagi. The grounds are surrounded by scenic views of mountains and quiet forests. The campground even has its own hot spring, walking trails, pub and plenty of cute goats. While travelers can bring their own equipment, guests can be supplied with all the gear they need with advanced reservations.

For more information on Miyagi, please visit http://www.visitmiyagi.com.

TOP DESTINATIONS FOR 2020

Travel and hospitality professionals across the globe are preparing to usher in a new decade of travel, focusing on up-and-coming destinations, increasingly popular lodging trends, and fresh ways to experience travel in a meaningful way that impacts the way people view the world. With more than 50 years of industry experience, the experts at Preferred Hotels & Resorts – the world’s largest independent hotel brand with more than 750 properties in 85 countries – are sharing their insights and tips for the year ahead.

  • CONSCIOUS TRAVEL – According to the Sustainable Travel Report released by Booking.com, 58% of travelers will consciously avoid visiting a destination if it is shown to negatively impact the people who live there. “Hospitality brands that move beyond greenwashing to demonstrate how they are minimizing their social and environmental footprint are reaping the rewards in customer loyalty and share of wallet,” says Michelle Woodley, President. “Since launching GIFTTS (Great Initiatives for Today’s (Tomorrow’s) Society) in 2005 – which recognizes hotels that go above and beyond in the areas of community service, education, philanthropy, and sustainability – Preferred Hotels & Resorts has celebrated and supported the sustainable efforts hundreds of independent hotels, providing them with a platform from which to share best practices that enhance their environmental and social contributions and inspire others to take action.”
  • TRANSFORMATIONAL TRAVEL – Described by the Transformative Travel Council (founded in 2016) as “intentionally traveling to stretch, learn and grow into new ways of being and engaging with the world”, 2020 will witness this trend evolve as a critical thread connecting other trends identified this year. As travelers harness nature, culture, and social activities to connect with their inner self and promote qualitative life changes, transformational travel will more assertively intersect with conscious travel, micro-cations and second city travel to become less focused on the self and more about the lasting benefit a traveler can have on others. “Travel and the quest for ‘Where Next?’ has long been used as a way to deal with the twists and turns in life, be it respite from a stressful career, a means to deal with major life events, or as a landmark activity and life-stage celebration. Transformative travel enables a traveler to immerse themselves in the virtues of travel, be they emotional, social, physical or spiritual. It is the pursuit of becoming better versions of ourselves and in doing so, our humanity is reinforced,” says Kristie Goshow, Chief Marketing Officer.
  • MICRO-CATIONS – Defined as a leisure trip consisting of less than four nights, ‘micro-cations’ are rising in popularity among all age groups as travelers seek opportunities to see more destinations in a shorter amount of time. Leading this trend are time-poor millennial executives who are replacing longer, more traditional vacations with shorter getaways. “In a world where everyone is constantly connected, micro-cations offer an ideal opportunity to unwind and recharge in shorter, more frequent intervals,” says Caroline Klein, Executive Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Relations. “Getting away for just a few days, even if you are still responding to emails, helps put things into perspective. This trend truly resonates with me as the only millennial senior executive at Preferred Hotels & Resorts. I often try to add on a few days of leisure to international business trips to gain a new perspective on areas of the world that I may never visit again or that I have not experienced outside of a business context.”

 

  • LGBTQ FAMILY TRAVEL – With a total of 25 countries across Europe and the Americas now legally recognizing and performing same sex marriage, the industry is turning its attention to the LGBTQ family travel segment. According to a recent report by LGBTQ market research firm Community Marketing & Insights, 85% of LGBTQ parents with children under 18 have taken one vacation or more as a family in the past year. And with more LGBTQ couples choosing to start their own families year on year, travel agents and tour operators should be addressing this demographic’s service, privacy, and security requirements. “While lesbians have long spearheaded LGBTQ family travel, we have seen a notable increase in gay men traveling with their children, which presents a huge opportunity for well-positioned travel brands to directly market their programs and experiences,” says Rick Stiffler, Senior Vice President of Leisure Sales and ambassador for Preferred Pride.“Now entering its tenth year, the Preferred Pride program offers training to more than 300 luxury hotels, resorts, and residences that caters to LGBTQ traveling families – a welcome addition to the exclusive benefits and amenities that travelers receive when they book stays through the program.”

 

  • INSTA-TOURISM– According to a recent study by Amadeus, 40% of Instagram users under the age of 33 ranked Instagram as a top factor for selecting a vacation, and with more than 500 million users sharing an average of 85 million photos each day (according to National Geographic), Instagram is undoubtedly the most prominent source of wanderlust inspiration, guiding travelers to their destination choices. “In 2020, it will be more essential than ever for travel brands to effectively leverage the power of Instagram to capture the attention and engagement of target audiences and ultimately drive bookings,” says Lindsey Ueberroth, Chief Executive Officer. “Content, campaigns, and collaborative partnerships should be crafted to appeal to Generation Z, in addition to millennials, who are starting to build their brand loyalties and are influential in the decision process for family vacations.”

 

  • SECOND-CITY TRAVEL – According to a recent survey by Booking.com, over half (54%) of global travelers want to play a part in reducing over-tourism, while 51% would swap their original destination for a similar alternative if it would have a positive environmental or social impact. As such, travelers are starting to choose secondary and tertiary destinations that still provide the same charm and culture as their better-known counterparts to alleviate the issues. “We see growth in a number of secondary markets globally, owed in part to improved air access and more diverse travel itineraries from tour operators. With this trend, we believe destinations such as Guadalajara, Mexico; Suzhou, China; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Porto, Portugal; and Belfast, Northern Ireland, and similar, are likely to see an uptick in visitors in the New Year,” says Robert Van Ness, Executive Vice President of the Americas.

 

  • RESIDENTIAL-STYLE ACCOMMODATIONS – Residential options continue to surge in popularity among all travel segments, given their ability to provide more flexibility for individual or group needs, particularly at a time when multi-generational trips, personalization, and convenience are a top priority for travelers. In response, hospitality brands, particularly luxury hotel groups, will further invest in the expansion of their residential-style inventory in 2020, with the goal of increasing their share of a market dominated by a handful of alternative lodging providers. “While the hotel pipeline continues to boom, travelers are increasingly seeking residential-style lodging options, ranging from beachfront villas with access to resort facilities for family celebrations to city-center serviced apartments for business and even short-term relocations,” says Philipp Weghmann, Executive Vice President of Europe. “Preferred Residences has just marked its 100-property milestone, offering travelers a wider selection of stand-alone luxury accommodations that connect guests to the unique culture of 32 destinations while offering a home-like space that meets their specific needs in size, amenities, and comfort.”

 

  • HOT DESTINATION: MEXICO – Mexico’s rich and diverse culture naturally lends itself to hospitality experiences that showcase the people, local design and architecture, and regional cuisines. As such, tourism to Mexico is on the rise with total visitors in 2019 estimated to top more than 45 million by year-end, a 5.6% increase from the previous year, with an increase in upper upscale and luxury properties projected to launch in 2020 to meet the growing demand. “Mexico’s luxury market has emerged over the past few years to be the largest and most resilient in Latin America, with new destinations like Los Cabos and established ones like Yucatan Peninsula leading the way.” says Antonio Vera, Regional Director of Mexico. “Preferred Hotels & Resorts has seen continual development since entering the market in 1999 with recent launches such as Atelier Playa Mujeres and Montage Los Cabos in the luxury and ultra-luxury segments. This broad range of premium hotels and resorts has helped transform Mexico from a low-cost, all-inclusive market to a robust luxury leisure market in less than 10 years.”

 

  • HOT DESTINATION: COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – As sustainability continues to remain top-of-mind for travelers globally, eco-friendly destinations contributing to the protection of their local environment are rising in popularity. In Europe, Copenhagen is aiming to become the world’s first carbon neutral city by 2025, while Denmark overall has been regularly voted one of the happiest and healthiest countries. “With a slew of hotels slated to open in Copenhagen next year, Villa Copenhagen will be the most impactful and exciting, as it transforms from the city’s century-old post office into a luxury eco-hotel that will debut in April,” says Brenda Collin, Managing Director, UK, Ireland, Nordics, and The Netherlands. Prioritizing conscious luxury and nature throughout, the property is investing heavily in renewable energy, partnerships with environmentally friendly and sustainable local brands, and forward-thinking initiatives, including the luxurious Earth Suite designed with only sustainable materials.

 

  • HOT DESTINATION: JAPAN – With annual arrivals soaring by more than 24 million, Japan was the decade’s fastest growing major travel destination. Fresh from the excitement surrounding this year’s 2019 Rugby World Cup and newly lifted visa restrictions, Tokyo is poised to trend again. In addition to hosting the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, Shibuya – the capital city’s major commercial district, is currently undergoing a massive skyline changing redevelopment. “As Tokyo aims to reach more international travelers, the Japanese National Tourism Board is further investing in multilingual marketing campaigns to generate interest in Japan’s lesser-visited destinations, helping to fuel a wider discovery of the country long after the Olympics,” says Kaori Yamaguchi, Managing Director of Japan. “Preferred Hotels & Resorts represents 17 outstanding independent properties in Japan, including Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in Tokyo, Hotel New Grand in Yokohama, and The Thousand Kyoto in Kyoto, which provide travelers with great launch pads from which to explore culturally-rich destinations beyond Tokyo.”

 

For more information on the properties and experiences represented within the Preferred Hotels & Resorts portfolio, please visit www.PreferredHotels.com.