Japan’s hottest new hotels, restaurants, and cultural experiences.

Wakayama | Japan National Tourism Organization
? Wakayama | Japan National Tourism Organization

Japan offers up a feast for travellers, with mountainside onsen (hot spring) villages, sleepy beach-lined islands, and buzzing megacities all on the menu.

We’ve rounded up the latest travel news to whet the appetite of Aussie travellers. From hotels and restaurants curated by luxury brands Bulgari and Gucci to a Tokyo architecture project (like no other) that injects Japanese design grandeur into the humble public toilet.

Places to Stay

Bulgari Hotels & Resorts and real estate company Mitsui Fudosan have partnered to open Bulgari Hotel in Tokyo in late 2022. The first Bulgari Hotel in Japan, the hotel will be in the glamourous new development planned for high above Tokyo Station.

In Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, a modern take on the Japanese ryokan awaits at Chalet Ivy Jozankei Sapporo. With only 26 rooms, all offering private hot springs, this hotel is the perfect place to relax in Japan’s famous steamy waters, including the hotel’s public, indoor and open-air baths.

Glamping has hit the shores of Japan’s Ibaraki PrefectureEast Coast Fine Glamping is a new beachside glamping site that has popped up in Ajigaura, just 2 hours from Tokyo.

Six Senses Kyoto, set to open in 2024, will mark the brand’s entry to Japan. The hotel will open in a prime location to provide an urban sanctuary (and welcome recharge) from sightseeing and the many festivals and cultural events on the doorstep. Kyoto is famed for its Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, palaces, traditional Japanese architecture, and beautiful cherry gardens.

Tokyo Disney Resort will open its Toy Story Hotel in April. Despite the pandemic, Tokyo Disneyland has been slowly expanding, including a new Beauty and the Beast castle, and now the happiest place on Earth is adding another hotel to its grounds.

Fairfield by Marriott Wakayama Susami looks out onto the glistening Pacific Ocean, the destination best known for its famous local cuisine and seasonal delights such as Mehari-zushi, and Kenken Katsuo (bonito) that is in season from spring to early summer – as well as being part of the Kumano Kodo Ohechi pilgrimage route that runs along the western coast of the Kii Peninsula.

New Experiences

A new 12km temple hike in Kochi prefecture gives visitors a snapshot of the traditional (and endurance-testing) 1200km Shikoku pilgrimage route ‘Shikoku Henro’ that winds through fields and mountains of the prefecture.

Hakuba Iwatake Mountain Resort, which recently started offering an off-road go-kart experience in the mountains, now has one bigger drawcard for visitors in the warmer months. In April Hakuba Iwatake Mountain Resort is opening Hakuba Hitotokinomori, a new observation area 1,100 metres above sea level on Mt Iwatake, where you can marvel at the beautiful Northern Alps.

A new luxury sightseeing train will run between Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. Launching April, the Kintetsu Aoniyoshi express will have lounge seats, picture windows, plus a restaurant and bar. The sumptuous new train is made up of four original carriages built in the 1960s and 70s that have been completely remodelled with window-facing lounge seats to help make the most of the stunning views.

For a truly whimsical winter wonderland, look no further than the Oirase Ice Falls Tour in Aomori prefecture which is back this winter season. Gaze at rare ice falls, icicles, and flowing streams, all of which have been carefully lit with LED lamps.

Foodie Delights

Tokyo’s Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura has finally opened — after a year-long, pandemic-induced delay — in Ginza. A crossover of refined Italian cuisine and local Japanese produce, including a ‘Parmigiana that wants to be a ramen’.

Harajuku’s famous (but sadly now now-closed) Kawaii Monster Café has been given a new lease of life and has reopened in Osaka. The theatre restaurant has been reimagined as Kawaii Monster Kitchen in the Kansai foodie capital.

Chimikepp sees modern French cuisine find a new home in Hokkaido. For some, the allure of this remote region is its bracing snowscape or outdoor activities, but this new restaurant is set to bring foodie travellers to the region with its creative French dishes using Hokkaido ingredients.