From brand new luxury hotels to trending sights and new innovative experiences, here’s an overview of some of the latest things that are ready and waiting to be explored.
The hottest new hotels: Cosy winter luxury in Niseko to Japan’s first W Hotel in Osaka
When international visitors return to Japan, they’ll be spoiled for choice with 2021 seeing the opening of a range of new accommodation experiences – some entering Japan for the first time. The Hilton Roku Kyoto, the first Hilton LXR Hotels & Resorts property in Asia, is set to open in September 2021. In a similar vein, W Hotel Worldwide, part of Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio has made its debut in Osaka with Japan’s first ever W Hotel, and the Higashiyama Niseko Village, Japan’s first Ritz-Carlton Reserve label hotel has opened in Niseko.
For those keen to experience the joys of a traditional Japanese ryokan in contemporary style, Azumi Setoda, a newly renovated Japanese ryokan, is now taking bookings for travellers on the island of Ikuchijima in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea.
IHG Hotels also plans to launch or refurbish three hotels in Japan’s Appi region in December 2021, including ANA Intercontinental Appi Kogen Resort, ANA Crowne Plaza Resort Appi Kogen, and ANA Holiday Inn Resort Appi Kogen. Fairfield by Marriott, part of Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio, is expected to open six new Fairfield hotels in Japan in August 2021.
Mouth-watering foodie innovations: from Maccas’ rice patty burgers to high-end Peruvian-Japanese in Tokyo
While some of us don’t mind our own company from time-to-time, COVID-19 has inspired the launch of a novel new pub for solo drinkers in the city of Hakodate, Hokkaido prefecture. The Juden Highball Pub has adapted operations and re-arranged its space for solo drinkers, offering private booths where food and drink can be ordered from tablets.
If you didn’t think it was possible to eat a drink, think again. For anyone who thinks the combination of powdered green tea and milk – matcha latte – is a match made in heaven, the Japanese confectionary store, Kamakura Goro, has just developed an edible version dubbed the “matcha latte you can eat”.
If you like to combine your love for travel with unique food experiences, star Peruvian chefs, Virgilio Martinez and Santiago Fernandez, are set to open their first fine-dining restaurant in Tokyo. The duo behind Central, Kjolle, and Mil in Lima are expected to open Maz in Tokyo’s financial district in the coming weeks with a menu inspired by Japanese cuisine and culture. Italian fashion house, Gucci, has also opened a Massimo Bottura restaurant in its new Ginza flagship store in Tokyo on the Namiki-dori shopping street.
It’s not quite fine dining but McDonald’s Japan has been embracing the country’s appetite for culinary innovation, offering something you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in the world. After considering the recent rice burger trial in Japan a success, McDonald’s has launched a new rice fish burger range. The rice burgers replace the traditional McDonald’s bun with two rice patties.
Have you ever wondered what a Japanese take on Ikea’s famed Swedish meatballs might look like? Well, now you can find out. The Japanese furniture and home accessories retail chain, Nitori, has taken the bold move of launching its first restaurants. Described as low-price steakhouses, you’ll find them in Tokyo and Kanagawa prefecture.
Art and about: pop-up Kawasaki graffiti art and record-breaking origami
If you’re an avid fan of Australia’s Big Banana, Big Prawn, and Big Pineapple, you should put the Japanese town of Noto in Ishikawa prefecture on your bucket list. Noto has just built a 13-metre-long statue of a giant squid using COVID relief funds from the Japanese government. The town says it’s an important strategy for raising awareness of the town’s fishing industry and increasing tourism.
Meanwhile, Achi Village in Shimoina, Nagano prefecture, is officially recognised as the country’s best destination for observing stars by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment. Unsurprisingly, Achi Village is also home to Japan’s number one night-time sky tours where visitors can enjoy breathtaking stargazing experiences after dark. Renowned for its astronomic delights, Archi Village recently celebrated Guinness World Record recognition for the largest display of origami stars on the 20th March 2021, boasting 44,136 stars. Aside from stargazing, tourists flock to Achi village all year round for mountain views, hot springs and Hanamomo (peach blossoms).
Art has always been entrenched in Japanese culture, so it’s probably no surprise that bold and creative works can pop up just about anywhere, at any time. Three metres high and 56 metres long, an impressive new mural has appeared at a construction site near Kawasaki Station in Tokyo. Five artists active in Japan and around the world have depicted the city, art and youth culture with images spanning the Edo period (1603-1867) to the present time and into the future.
Japan, where tradition meets the future.