What to know for your next trip to Japan

There has never been a more exciting time to plan a visit to Japan.

The country’s accommodation, arts, and food scenes are all thriving with the arrival of unique and distinctively Japanese hotels, exhibitions and art installations. And award-winning bars and restaurants, which have been popping up from the cities to the countryside. There are many new discoveries in the Land of the Rising Sun.

With the news of further restrictions being lifted as Japan will allow non-guided package tours from all countries and more than double the number of people – to 50,000 – to enter daily. And the need to show a negative Covid-19 result for triple vaxxed travellers also being scrapped. 

So, there’s never been a better time to plan your next trip. But what’s new and noteworthy? Read on to find out.

Where tradition meets the future. Video by VisitJapanAU on YouTube

Food and bar scene ups the ante in Tokyo

Wakayama sake stalwart begins brewing in Tokyo. Established in 1928 in Wakayama Prefecture, legendary sake brewery Heiwa Shuzou has opened the doors to Heiwa Doburoku Brewery, offering a modern take on the classic Japanese tipple in the heart of Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district.

Ginza Hachigo is the latest ramen bar in Tokyo to be awarded a Michelin Star. The newest member of the exclusive Michelin-starred ramen club, Ginza Hachigo’s beautifully complex soup is clear, flavourful, and made by boiling Nagoya Cochin chicken, duck, scallop, dried tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms, konbu (seaweed), heirloom onions from Kyoto and cured ham.

Gold Bar Japan
Gold Bar at EDITION is a ‘social playground’ in Tokyo’s bar scene

Gold Bar at Tokyo EDITION is a new, luxurious, sophisticated cocktail bar. Cocktails on the menu include a Nippon Pale Ale, made with local chardonnay from Nagano, pisco, grappa, pineapple, IPA and nutmeg. Nestled next to the hotel entrance on the ground floor, Gold Bar at EDITION is a ‘social playground’ that brings another dimension to Tokyo’s bar scene.

The world’s first automated pasta robot prepares a meal in 45 seconds. E Vino Spaghetti has opened in Tokyo Station, welcoming people with little time for a lunch break. It uses the world’s first automated pasta cooking robot. AI-based image recognition technology is used to understand the status of pasta ingredients. Pasta cooks in a specially developed frying pan using high-powered induction. The robot makes up to 90 meals per hour and even washes pans on its own.

FUFU Nikko Japan
FUFU Nikko rooms overlook lush forests with a private indoor onsen

New hotels open their doors across Japan

Nikko welcomes the elegant FUFU Nikko. Within walking distance of the Nikko Toshogu shrine, the FUFU Nikko offers travellers an elegant retreat in a beautiful green oasis. All 24 individually designed guest suites overlook the surrounding forests and come with private indoor or outdoor onsen (hot spring) baths. With trekking and cycling drawing visitors, adventure-seekers can also try rafting across Lake Chuzenji or canyoning through Urami Falls. Easy reach of bustling Tokyo, Nikko feels like a different world.

Minimalist digs in the heart of Kanazawa. Korinkyo is located moments from Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen Garden. Its 18 guest rooms have simple wood and stone finishes and a neutral design palette, allowing the surrounding nature vistas to take the spotlight. Onsite, there’s an aroma distillery where guests can create essential oils to be used in-room or while relaxing in the hotel’s rooftop sauna and bath.

Comico Art House Japan
Comico Art House: Where sleep and art collide

Luxury accommodation designed by Kengo Kuma. Comico Art House Yufuin is near the coastal city of Oita in Kyushu, located within the stunning yet little-known Comico Art Museum Yufuin. It comprises the ‘Tsuchi’ house and the ‘Take’ house. Both are inspired by Satoyama culture, where nature and community are deeply intertwined. Both homes boast private onsen, traditional Japanese gardens and spacious rooms with tatami mat floors.

Tech-savvy hotel brand YOTEL to arrive in Tokyo. Slated to open in 2024, YOTEL Tokyo will be centrally located in Ginza, one of Tokyo’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. The 244-room hotel will showcase YOTEL’s signature robotic concierge YOBOT, motorised SmartBeds and touchless guest experience from reservation to check-out. YOTEL Tokyo is part of YOTEL’s broader expansion plans across Japan, including Sapporo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe.

Club Med Hokkaido Kiroro Japan
Club Med Hokkaido Kiroro

Hotels at new heights

A new Club Med ski resort will open in Hokkaido in time for the 2023 season. The third Club Med resort to open in Japan, Club Med Hokkaido Kiroro, will be an all-inclusive winter resort 90 minutes from New Chitose Airport. Over two phases, Club Med Kiroro’ Peak’ will open in December 2022 exclusively for guests aged 12 and over to kick back in a cosy yet hip environment with access to a natural open-air hot spring and spa. Club Med Kiroro’ Grand’ will follow in 2023, open for all ages, and house a wide selection of family-oriented facilities.

Read more: Why there’s no real off-season to travel to Japan

Planets Tokyo Japan
Flower ramen (R) that are almost too pretty to eat at ‘Planets Tokyo’

Japanese exhibitions for your art and culture fix

‘Planets Tokyo’ is the latest immersive experience by teamLab. Walk through water installations or take in the scents of 13,000 real orchids that ‘react’ by making space as you for walk around the venue. It’s all part of the curious art installations under the guise of the Reversible Rotation. Michelin-starred restaurant Vegan Ramen UZU Tokyo has also opened on site, dishing up bowls of signature flower ramen that are almost too pretty to eat.

Art and about in Osaka. Nakanoshima Museum of Art has opened after nearly 30 years of planning. Housed in a dramatic box shape structure with a jet-black exterior, the museum boasts one of Japan’s most extensive collections. More than 6,000 art pieces in its collection, with a bespoke sample of around 40 works on display at any time). By modern masters such as Magritte, Dali, and Japanese artists including painter Jiro Yoshihara.

Andy Warhol Kyoto at Kyocera Museum of Art

Andy Warhol arrives in Kyoto. An exhibition dedicated to iconic pop artist Andy Warhol is coming to the Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art. Running until February 2023, the collection is divided into five main sections, including a ‘Warhol, Japan and Kyoto’ chapter, which looks at Warhol’s first visit to Japan in 1956. And features a collection of sketches, souvenirs and keepsakes that the artist collected during his two-week visit.

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