Tourism in Japan is big business, not only does tourism in Japan make the country lots of money, but visiting Japan on your travels is a fantastic cultural and educational experience. In this article I will teach you all about tourism in Japan, why you should visit Japan and what the best things to do in Japan are. Oh, and I have a handy packing list and some recommendations on awesome places to stay too!
- Tourism in Japan
- Why tourism in Japan is so popular
- Sustainable tourism in Japan
- Is it safe to travel to Japan?
- Things to do in Japan
- The best places to stay in Japan
- Tourism in Japan Packing List
- Tourism in Japan- further reading
Tourism in Japan
Tourism in Japan has grown steadily in recent years. From 2011 to just before 2020, Japan welcomed over 560 Million tourists annual for both business, and pleasure travel, that’s a lot! Japan has so much to offer, including 21 World Heritage Sites, a world-class modern city, a Disney theme park, a famous mountain and heaps of culture.
Prior to the pandemic tourism in Japan was on a steady growth rate and in 2019, Japan enjoyed its highest foreign visitor numbers on record, rounding off a ten year period of growth in the nation’s tourism sector!
Here are some key statistics about tourism in Japan in 2019-
- The number of international tourists travelling to Japan in September 2019 reached 2.3 m (a 5.2% increase compared to 2018).
- The number of foreign visitors to Japan reached a 12 month high of 2.3 million in September 2019.
- 68,400 British tourists visited Japan in October 2019, enough to fill 51 peak-time Shinkansen trains.
- Japan ended the last decade with its highest tourism stats overall in the last ten years (over 32.5 m foreign visitors).
- In 2019, Japan welcomed 3% more train passengers than in 2018, reaching 25.6 m train travellers.
- JR Passes sold during 2019 doubled on the previous year with 44% more US citizens purchasing a pass as well as 8.5% more UK tourists.
Most tourists who travel to Japan are domestic tourists (the train travel system is amazing!) and the most common inbound tourists are from China and South Korea. If you are from elsewhere in the world though, don’t worry- you are sure to find plenty of others from your region too.
According to moneywehave.com, the average cost of a two-week vacation in Japan is approximately $4005. This does include the cost of airfare, food, lodging, local transportation, and anything else you’d buy (ex. souvenirs). This may seem like a lot of money, but it’s easy to make tourism in Japan a lot more affordable.
Tourism in Japan is popular throughout the year because it has so much to offer- from beautiful beaches to soak up the Japanese sunshine to ski resorts that make for the perfect winter break. Oh, and we mustn’t forget the why tourism in Japan is so popular during spring- the blossoms! From the bustling metro hub of Tokyo, to the beaches of Ishigaki, there are many reasons for you to explore tourism in Japan- lets explore this a bit further…..
Why tourism in Japan is so popular
Tourism in Japan is popular because millions of people around the world want to learn about the Japanese culture. Many people come to Japan to see the scenic landscapes of Mount Fuji, say hi to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in Tokyo’s Disneyland, make new friends with the Snow monkeys in Nagano prefecture, and even relax and unwind in the traditional saunas called “Sento.” One thing for sure that everyone will do in Japan is try some of their best dishes; everything from colorful sushi, to savory hibachi, and hearty bowls of soba noodles. Trying all these things will definitely give you a more authentic, and memorable experience in Japan. When you do travel to Japan, you’ll see that Japan is so unique in respecting their traditions, and bringing in new ones for great changes in every aspect of life.
Here are some other reasons why tourism in Japan is so popular.
- World class public transportation system
- Great cherry blossom season
- It’s the mecca for Anime and Manga lovers; Pikachu, Yu-Gi-Oh etc.
- Japan is where karaoke started
- Tokyo is one of the Fashion Capitals of the world, setting new trends
- Cleanliness, and friendliness in public and private places in Japan is top notch
- It’s one of the world’s safest countries
- Home to some of the world’s best powdered snow
- They have great respect for historical events, especially through summer Matsuri festivals
- Cosmopolitan dining experiences
Sustainable tourism in Japan
As often as I write on this website, sustainable tourism is essential as we want to be able to continue travelling into the future. As the effects of global warming continue to be a problem, Japan is a world leader in making their country more sustainable in tourism. Japan has been big in conserving as many natural and manmade resources as possible so we can enjoy tourism in Japan for many years to come.
Sustainable tourism in Japan was started because Japan want people to always visit their country, and that tourism is a major part of their economy. According to the Japan External Trade Organization, tourism in Japan makes up approximately $359 Billion USD to Japan’s global domestic product. Sustainable tourism in Japan will aim to bring more income because they follow many if not all of the UN’s World Tourism Organization series of 17 sustainable development goals. All 17 of these goals definitely help boost the local economy, and be inclusive of all tourists.
With Japan being an island nation, the sustainable tourism in Japan aims to protect and preserve many of its oceanside and waterfront communities that are located on thousands of kilometers of coastline. Sustainable tourism in Japan helps many import and export businesses especially at the ports all over Japan’s coastline. With sustainable tourism in Japan becoming more popular in major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, Japan is moving closer to fighting off pollution and overcrowding in any public and private spaces.
One way that a visitor can make tourism in Japan more sustainable is by reducing their reliance on gasoline powered transportation. Japan has several ways for visitors to commute with a smaller carbon footprint. There’s an amazing opportunity for visitors to take an electric bike tour of Lake Biwa via Kyoto. On this great tour, you can peddle away to see picturesque views of the lake, visit nearby rice paddies, and even stop by a local kitchen to learn how to cook freshly picked fruits and vegetables.
Some other great ways you can do sustainable tourism in Japan (Eco-tourism) are by trying some of Japan’s green activities such as forrest bathing, natural hot springs (called onsen), private tours around popular national parks such as Nikko National Park, diving at the local beaches, mountain biking, visiting and praying at shrines and temples to learn the Japanese culture and religions, visiting Nagano to see the snow monkeys in their natural habitat, hiking Mt. Fuji, and more.
Is it safe to travel to Japan?
Compared to other countries around the world, Japan is very safe for their people, and tourists. Simply put, crime rates are low, so tourism in Japan is safe. When visiting Japan, people must take caution at all times, and overall have fun. Japan is located on a part of the Pacific Ocean that’s vulnerable to typhoons and earthquakes. Though these events rarely occur, tourists and locals have to be careful.
Earthquakes are a concern for Japan. In 2016, the Kumamoto Earthquake in Japan reached a magnitude of 7.1 on the richter scale. As shown in the graph below, the January-April frequency of Earthquakes since 2016 has dramatically decreased from 2016 to 2020. As seen on the graph, the magnitude of the earthquakes are below 4.0, which is relatively low, and wouldn’t cause significant damage to Japan as a whole. This is proof that tourists today don’t need to fear earthquakes as much.
In 2011, the Fukushima nuclear disaster took place, and was partially caused by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami that devastated the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Luckily, no one died from the radiation exposure immediately, and the Tokyo Electric Power Company has vowed to continue their efforts in cleaning up the mess left behind, as well as prevent future disasters from happening. To learn more about this disaster, and how you can prevent such a disaster happening, you as the tourist can take a tour of The Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum in the town of Futaba; located close to the Fukushima Daiichi Plant.
Since 2000, Japan has seen a steady, yet dramatic decrease in crimes in such as theft. The reported crimes in 2000 reached nearly 3 million, and by 2019, the number of reported crimes dropped to approximately 0.75 million. Of the crimes that happen, most of them are petty such as shoplifting, and pit-pocketing. One way a tourist can avoid pit-pocketing and other petty crimes are by keeping all their belongs close to them by using this one of a kind Hidden Travel belt wallet with RFID blocker.
Things to do in Japan
Tourism in Japan is on the rise. I bet you’ve seen on TV, read other travel sites, or heard from many of your friends and loved ones about tourism in Japan; the best things to do, places to see. I could spend all day talking about the amazing things to do in Japan, but instead I will just give you my top recommendations- here are five destinations that make tourism in Japan unforgettable….
1. Mount Fuji
Tourism in Japan wouldn’t be complete without taking in this stunning view of Mount Fuji. This magnificent mountain peak can be seen in Tokyo’s skyline. You can also take a train ride approximately 100 km from Tokyo to see Mount Fuji up close. When you get physically closer to the Mount Fuji, you can feel the refreshing cool air on your body, and touch the snow, good enough to walk on, ski, snowboard, and even build a snowman. This is the most popular mountain that is shown in many of Japan’s greatest artwork. Visitors who travel to Mount Fuji can have the opportunity to climb it in as little as six hours from its halfway mark. This halfway mark called The 5th Station is a great place for you to start an incredible climb/hike one of the most iconic mountains not just in Japan, but also the world.
After walking or climbing Mount Fuji, you can also have the option to view Mount Fuji from a birds eye view by Paragliding in tandem style. For those thrill seekers, go click on this amazing Paragliding tour over Mount Fuji. After doing that, you’ll also enjoy a delicious lunch at the famous Ikkanjin Restaurant, which is famous for its soba noodles (noodles made from buckwheat flour). This all inclusive tour provides tourist opportunities to visit the Shiratono-taki waterfalls, and the 205 shops at Gotenba Premium Outlets for local and retail shopping.
2. Historic Kyoto
Kyoto as a city gets overlooked when talking about tourism in Japan. Located approximately 457 km away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, Kyoto is the cultural center of Japan. Kyoto is one city in Japan that has never been touched or destroyed by the tragedies of World War II. From art galleries to architecture dating back over 1000 years ago, Kyoto has done much to preserve vestiges of Japan’s imperial family from its icons, cuisine, art, literature, and architectural feats, especially the Kyoto Imperial Palace. If you want to time travel to see what Japan looked like 500 to 1000 years ago in its pristine beauty, this is the city and tour for you.
Another great tour you can do in Kyoto is to take a tour of the Golden Pavilion Kinkakuji Temple. This one of a kind Zen gold leaf wrapped temple was originally built to be a retirement home for a famous shogun (a military commander in chief during the Feudal times in Japan: circa 1185 to 1603 CE). The Kinkakuji Temple rests on top of a clear and placid lake, a great place for you to have a peaceful time away from the noise of the downtown areas.
3. Sapporo, Hokkaido
Take a 1.5 hour non-stop flight from Tokyo to Sapporo, located on Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido. Historically, Sapporo adds even more value to tourism in Japan. Sapporo is known for its cuisine, beer, Odori Park, and the Sapporo Snow Festival. Sapporo is best seen in the winter, not to mention its Mount Moiwa Ski Resort is the location of the memorable 1972 Winter Olympic Games. In the Sapporo Snow Festival, you can see many of Japan’s most talented Sculptors create, and display very beautiful and intricately designed ice sculptures. The Sapporo Snow Festival is the grandeur of the things to do in Sapporo since 1950 because it’s the definition of what winter wonderland would look like for people of all ages. Tourists can see majestic views of the city on top of the observation deck of Sapporo TV Tower. Here, you can click to learn more about the history of the Sapporo Snow Festival.
For the people who love to eat and drink, Sapporo is a great city to bar hop. You can view and book this Sapporo Bar Hopping and Food Tour, which includes hopping around 3 unique local underground izakaya (japanese bar/pub), dinner, and your choice of ending the night with savoury ramen, or a sweet parfait. Being part of this Sapporo Bar Hopping and Food tour is both affordable, and unforgettable, especially if you like to just relax by yourself, or with a small group of friends.
4. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Tokyo
Conveniently located just a short ten minute walk southeast of the Shinjuku metro station in Tokyo, the Gyoen National Garden is a must see. This peaceful garden was built on the site of Lord Naito’s private mansion during the Edo period of Japan around the year 1772. Since it opened to the public in 1949 as a national garden, it has displayed a unique combination of Japanese, French and English landscapes complete with many varieties of flowers, walking paths, peaceful ponds and more. This is a great garden to rest, and have peace during your day.
Along with viewing the three different parts of the garden; French, English, and Japanese, the Gyoen National Garden also has a Taiwan Pavilion that is an ideal elegant spot for pictures; especially for weddings, and instagram. The garden is also an ideal place for the cherry blossom season. Gyoen National Garden is home to well over 1500 cherry trees, and bloom vividly starting in late March into early April. Imagine, going to this picturesque place, setting down a blanket, and having a fun afternoon picnic underneath the Gyoen National Garden cherry trees.
5. Ryokans of Atami
If you want to experience Tourism in Japan from it’s traditional hospitality, Ryokans in Atami will help you do that. Ryokans are traditional Japanese Inns that offer services from fine traditional dining called “kaiseki”, hot spring baths, live music entertainment, and tours of the surrounding trails and mountains. All amenities of a ryokan will help you wind down and relax just like the Japanese people did back in the 15th and 16th century.
The ryokans in Atami have been visited by many foreign dignitaries worldwide, and even by celebrities like TV Chef and globetrotter Anthony Bourdain. Ryokans have a lot to offer considering when you stay there, the hospitality is by far, the best you’ll have. The amenities at the ryokans will make you feel like a Japanese royalty. One great place to see and stay is the Ryokan Chikurinan Mizuno. This unique ryokan is located just 3.2 miles from the Nagahama beach, and 7 miles from the Kinomiya Shrine. This ryokan also has a private garden, free parking, electric teapot, private bathroom, bathrobes, and a terrace to see the views of the mountains and coastline.
The best places to stay in Japan
The great thing about Japan is that you can find great places to stay! Hotels, Airbnb, hostels, resorts etc., you’ll definitely find the best place to stay at any price point that fits your budget. Here are some great places to stay, and popular tours in Japan-
For the budget travelers, the Bijou Suites Granpia in Osaka is a great adequate place to rest, relax and recharge after a long day touring. This is a great place to stay because it has everything a budget traveller can ask for. The rooms are air conditioned, have fully equipped kitchens, private bathroom, microwave, fridge, tv, slippers and hairdryer. The location of Bijou Suites Granpia is only 1.6 miles away from popular Osaka sites like Osaka bay Tower, Foleo Osaka Dome City is 1.8 miles away, and an easy 12.4 mile commute to the Osaka Itami International Airport, so you’ll make it to your flight to and from Osaka, Japan with ease.
For the mid-priced travelers in Japan, the Rinn Kujofujinoki EAST Hotel in the heart of Downtown Kyoto has great accommodations. Some of those accommodations include 24 hour front desk and concierge service, air condition, garden, kitchen with microwave and fridge, bathroom with a bidet and washing machine, and complimentary breakfast served from 7:45 to 8:15 AM. This hotel is also conveniently located just 0.8 miles away from the TKP Garden City Kyoto, a popular conference and convention centre that hosts everything from business meetings to fully catered events like weddings and birthday parties.
Lastly, for the luxury travelers, Fuji Onsenji Yumedono in Fuji provides a one of a kind experience of sleeping just minutes away from Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko. If you’re looking for peace and privacy during your stay near Mount Fuji, this ryokan is for you. This amazing ryokan is only 1650 feet (walking distance) from the scenic Lake Kawaguchiko. The dining area in the rooms have a full japanese breakfast, and multi-course dinner served there. You can refresh yourselves in the in-room hot springs baths (called “onsen”), and private garden. Massages are also provided at an extra cost.
Top tours in Japan
When it comes to tackling the newness of tourism in Japan, it can be tough for tourists like you and me to navigate the country, especially if you don’t know anyone who lives in Japan, or you don’t speak a single word of the Japanese language. Taking a tour in Japan is a great option because you will have the chance to meet people who are in the same situation as you; tourists who want to have fun and unforgettable experiences in Japan.
The tours that are listed below can be given by expert tour guides in any native language you choose; whether it’s english, japanese, spanish, french, tagalog etc., they have it all. Having a tour guide that speaks the same language as you, as well as their own native japanese language can go a long way to help you capture great experiences and special perks that a person who travels without booking a tour would get. Some of those perks can include special giveaways like t-shirts, to complimentary cups of tea at a local tea house. Below are some of the tours we recommend.
What is tourism in Japan without seeing the world famous Toyosu Fish Market (formerly operated as Tsukiji Fish Market). Opened in 2018, Toyosu Fish market in Tokyo is a non-stop shop for every fish you’d want. This great budget tour option shows tourists over 2600 tons of fish being sold daily for personal and commercial use in everyday life in Japan. This six floor market has a facility in which the visitors can view the live auctions for the most coveted fish in the market, and can also shop, and dine at several retail stores and restaurants. Besides being the world’s largest fish market, the market also provides tourists stunning views of Tokyo Bay.
If you want to step out of Tokyo, a Private Full Day tour of Mount Fuji and Hakone is for you. This great tour of Mount Fuji and Hakone can be customized according to your liking. Weather permitting, you can see majestic views of Mount Fuji, have tickets to different attractions such as Kachi Kachi ropeways, cruises on nearby Lake Kawaguchi, private transportation to and from Mount Fuji and Hakone, complimentary lunch, and visits to several shrines for meditation. If needed, the tour is also wheelchair accessible, and stroller accessible.
Another tour option available to you is a Chartered Vehicle to Furano and Biei via Sapporo. In as little as one day, you can experience the picturesque landscape, and hidden gems of the Japanese countryside in both Furano and Biei. This is a one of a kind tourism in Japan experience you don’t want to miss because not many people can say they’ve been to the rural and less visited places in Japan. You can also organize your itinerary any way you want. Some of the best parts of this tour include walking through the lavender fields at Farm Tomita, taking in the beauty of Shikisai Hill, and dining at several local restaurants such as Teppan Okonomiyaki Masaya, which has has great teppanyaki chefs that put on a show as they cook your five star quality meal.
Tourism in Japan Packing List
Now that you’ve gotten a taste of what tourism in Japan looks like, it’s time to pack up! Besides the essentials; passport, flight tickets, visa, and medication, all other travel resources will depend on what you need, and where you go once you reach Japan. Below are a few items you can consider packing. I hope you enjoy your unforgettable trip to Japan, time to pack up, sayonara for now! Click on the links below to see my specific recommendations and gear that I personally use when travelling to Japan.
- Backpack: Having this particular backpack is great since it carries your essentials, and has a built in USB charging port for your electronic devices.
- Camera: pictures are worth a 1000 words, and i believe tourism in Japan would require a high quality camera like this Nikon Camera to capture moments in time
- Travel Voltage Adaptor: This is essential because when electronics receive too much or too little voltage/electric power, it can tamper with the function of your devices, and damage them
- Water bottle: A nice water bottle is needed, especially for people who want to take that extra step into sustainable tourism in Japan, saving money and resources like plastic from being wasted
- Shee-wee for women: Most of the toilets in Japan are squat toilets, and this device will aid women in the bathroom
- Japanese-English Dictionary: Communication in the native language is vital to go around, especially in the areas most int’l tourists hardly travel to.
- Prepaid Japanese SIM Cards for your Cell phone: To avoid long distance fees from your cell phone carrier, buy these SIM cards before you go to Japan.
- Flip Flops/Sandals/slippers: In Japan, slippers are worn inside the house in order to respect, and keep the rest of the house/building clean.
Tourism in Japan- further reading
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