Japan in 2023: A bucket-list-worthy adventure
Reopening tourism at the beginning of October, the new year presents the perfect opportunity to plan a trip to Japan. Independent travel and visa waivers have been resumed, and the country’s daily arrival cap and testing requirements for fully-vaccinated travellers have been eliminated. Now, new hotels and exciting developments are opening across the islands while ancient sites and must-see experiences are ready to welcome bucket-list tickers back.
Recently opened in Japan
During Japan’s two-and-a-half-year closure, a variety of thrilling experiences opened, cementing Japan as a leading adventure destination. Zip World Hanazono, located in Hokkaido’s world-renowned ski resort Niseko, opened during summer with one of the world’s longest ziplines. Returning in summer 2023 for its second season, brave visitors can fly past the active stratovolcano Mount Yotei for a unique view of the landscape during its greenest period. Skiers can now also ski into the night at Hanazono, after the resort began new services to accommodate late-night adventurers.
Japan’s rail infrastructure is also continuously under development, creating new connections and more accessible routes for travelling. In Autumn, the Nishi-Kyushu Shinkansen opened linking the Saga prefecture to Nagasaki; a historic port city and gateway to the Goto Islands, Japan’s diverse, subtropical archipelago. On the island of Fukue, part of the Goto Islands, luxury hotel Retreat Goto Ray opened at the end of summer. Looking over the sea of Goto with a design which brings the outdoors in, the boutique hotel offers 26 rooms with panoramic views and beautiful design throughout by Yukio Hashimoto.
What to add to a 2023 Japan itinerary
2023 will see the return of the Sapporo Snow Festival for the first time in person in three years, bringing winter festivities, sports and culture to millions. The free-to-attend annual festival celebrates winter with huge ice sculpture shows, an international snow sculpture competition, snow experiences from slides to rafting, and local warming cuisine.
On Ishigaki, part of the southern islands of Okinawa, luxury sea-view villas by architect Sou Fujimoto will open in summer 2023. The Not A Hotel property will present a sleek futuristic design, with meadows for rooftops as if the suites are floating by the ocean. Whilst in Okinawa, visitors can take full advantage of the warm climate by exploring the islands’ natural and cultural UNESCO World Heritage sites, and snorkelling in the coral-rich sea.
Leave the planning to the professionals
When booking a bucket-list trip in Japan, tour operators are able to provide all-encompassing itineraries for on and off-the-beaten-track experiences, and smooth over travel plans with their local expertise. Wendy Wu tours offer a Journey through Japan 14-day group tour (£6,490 pp), taking in the sights from Osaka to Sapporo including sake tasting, ryokan stays and a Mount Fuji visit. For a cultural experience, Audley Travel offers an 11-day Honshu culture & hot springs tour (£4,695), ticking off bucket list Japan activities mixed with authentic pastimes. Take in the sights and sounds while hot spring bathing, learn the art of a Japanese tea ceremony, and travel by bullet train for city day trips.