July 25, 2024

The sun sets on 2023! 

As 2023 comes to an end, we can look back at all the amazing things that happened in Japan over the last year! From hotels to outdoor adventures, there was something for everyone. The year saw a huge amount of announcements and developments across the country, from big cities to small towns. With Japan opening up again and tourism numbers rising, the country has a lot planned for the next few years.

With the end of the year quickly approaching, it is now time to look ahead, and see what Japan in 2024 has to offer – And the answer is quite a lot! In this article, we’ll cover a few of the many exciting openings that are coming your way in 2024, and even beyond. From new luxury resorts to rugged hiking trails, from the northern tip to the southernmost islands, Japan is ready for a new year and new adventure!


Luxury

Kai Okuhida

To start off, opening in autumn of 2024 is Kai Okuhida, a resort from Hoshino Resorts. Located in Gifu Prefecture, in the  city of Takayama, just over an hour away from Tokyo by train, this resort will be beautifully located in the Northern Alps mountain range of Japan. Guests will be able to relax and see magical views of Mt. Akadana, and enjoy either private open-air baths or utilise the hotel’s own bathhouse. There will also be an additional open-air footbath, or ‘ashiyu’ available to use, a wonderful way to rest your feet after a long day of walking or hiking. 

Kai Okuhida, Credit: Hoshino Resorts

Rosewood Miyakojima

In related terms, the luxury resort, Rosewood Miyakojima is slated for a spring 2024 opening on the island of Miyako in Okinawa. In a great location near the Miyako airport, the resort will feature 55 villas and a variety of high quality facilities, from private pools to vast views of the sea. Rosewood Miyakojima will make use of local ingredients in its 4 restaurants and bars, and local materials in its unique design. The Dutch architecture firm Studio Piet Boon hopes to create a natural surrounding, evoking a sense of harmony with the outside environment and the island. 

Sunayama Beach on Miyako Island

Six Senses Kyoto

In Kyoto, the first Six Senses to open in Japan, entitled the Six Senses Kyoto, will open in Spring of 2024. The resort will be located within walking distance of the well known Gion district and nearby both Myoho-In Temple and Toyokuni Shrine. This Six Senses hotel will focus on both wellness and nature, with 81 rooms centred around a main courtyard. A busy traveller will have the opportunity to relax due to the variety of spa and wellness facilities. The resort will attempt to mimic the outside city, with pieces of the building ranging from busy and bustling to still and calm. With both restaurants, bars, meeting rooms, and activities for kids, the Six Senses Kyoto will be a prime destination in a prime city.

Credit: Six Senses Kyoto

Adventure

Hokkaido East Trail

Heading up north, there is a new long distance hiking trail planned for 2024 in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture. Entitled the Hokkaido East Trail, this 370 kilometre route will lead hikers through multiple national parks, showcasing the magical beauty that Hokkaido has to offer. Hiking in late spring or summer, you should be able to avoid a lot of the snow that Hokkaido is famous for. This trail will cover national parks such as Akan Mashu, Kushiro Marshlands, and Shiretoko, all with their own unique features. As the trail will be covering a vast amount of land, it’s best to start packing now!

Akan Mashu National Park

Kurobe-Unazuki Canyon Route

A touring route in the heart of Toyama Prefecture is expected to open in 2024, a route that will let travellers experience and view landscapes that were once only accessible by experienced hikers and climbers. Starting from Keyakidaira and extending to Kurobe Dam in the Kurobe Valley, people can now travel what was once a construction route through the astounding Kurobe Valley. This deal was finalised by Kansai Electric Power and Toyama Prefecture in 2018, and will open following the implementation of various safety measures. From elevator to funicular, the route will employ various means of transportation to get people through the valley. There is also Unazaki Onsen nearby, giving travellers a much welcomed soothing spot to relax in. The route is expected to open in May or November of 2024, with operating dates of June to October.

Kurobe Gorge

Kumano Kodo 20th Anniversary

The Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail is one of only two trails recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, alongside the Camino trail in Spain. In 2024 the trail will be celebrating 20 years since it was recognised as a world heritage site. This 1000 year old pilgrimage trail takes trekkers through the beautiful mountains of Wakayama Prefecture and the Kii Peninsula in central Japan. Winding through the sacred areas and temples at Mt. Koya, a main attraction is the famous Kumano Nachi Taisha. With a red pagoda in the foreground, the awe-inspiring Nachi Falls in the background, this area is not to be missed!

Nachi Falls

Slow Travel

Sapporo International Art Festival

Held only every 4 years, the Sapporo International Art Festival is the biggest art event in the city. From 20 January to 25 February, the festival will be held across different venues in Sapporo, including Odori Park, where the yearly Sapporo Snow Festival is held. Under the theme of “Last Snow” and the subtheme of “Where the Future Begins”, the event aims to focus on the ideas of transformation and creation for a future which has been embroiled in present day existential threats. The director, Ogawa Hideaki, explains that the meaning of the word “snow” may be different in the future than it is now, even in a city that receives so much of it such as Sapporo. With a multitude of artists from around the world, this once every four year event is not to be missed!

ENESS, Airship Orchestra, photo by Ben Weinstein


Hokuriku Shinkansen Extension

While you may not think that the shinkansen should be classified as slow, minimising the travel time and making travel easier to your destination can let you spent even more time there! On March 16, 2024, a new extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen is slated to open its doors to travellers. Connecting Kanazawa city in Ishikawa Prefecture to Tsuruga in Fukui Prefecture, the connection now makes travel between Tokyo and Fukui, and Tokyo to Tsuruga, much quicker. From Tokyo to Fukui, the total travel time will now be only 2 hours and 51 minutes, a 36 minute reduction from the previously available routes. From Tokyo to Tsuruga, the journey will now only take you 3 hours and 8 minutes, a 51 minute reduction. The new stations along the route offer some amazing experiences. From onsens to specialty food, historic shrines and temples, there will be immersive things to do at each stop. For a more in depth guide of the extension route, see our article here!

Yamashiro Onsen in Ishikawa Prefecture, Credit: Ishikawa Prefecture Tourism League

2025

There’s some amazing openings happening in the new year, but why not look a bit more forward to something happening in 2025?

Osaka Expo 2025

The Osaka Expo, the next iteration of World Expos, will be held for 6 months on the island of Yumeshima in Osaka Prefecture. The event will be under the theme of “Designing Future Society for Our Lives”, with a subtheme of “Saving Lives”, “Empowering Lives”, and “Connecting Lives”. The exposition hopes that it will be able to utilise the world’s knowledge to create ideas and solve problems affecting the world, and aims to attract 28 million visitors, 150 countries and regions, and 25 international organisations. This is the second time that Osaka will be holding a World Expo, the first time was in 1970, when the famous Tower of the Sun building was created by Taro Okamoto. The Expo will run from April 13, 2025 – October 13, 2025, and with less than 500 days to go, it may be time to start planning a trip to Kansai!

Katsuo-Ji, Credit: Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau

Setouchi Triennale 2025

Last held in 2022, the Setouchi Triennale will be the 5th edition of the event, expecting to begin in mid April and last until early November 2025, with the overarching theme of “Restoration of the Sea”. The Setouchi area is known for its amazing beauty, made up of countless islands with their own unique foods and experiences. The triennale hopes to revitalise the small island communities of the area that once thrived but are now being affected by depopulation and ageing. In November of 2023, the event began calling for art proposals for exhibitions. Held across the Seto Inland Sea, the triennale aims to create a “Sea of Hope” for the world with each participating island having their own sustainable development goal (SDG) alongside the project wide initiatives. The Seto Inland Sea is a beautiful part of Japan, rich with culture and nature. One popular method of exploration is renting a bicycle and cycling around the islands and the many bridges that connect them. With the triennale coming up, that may be a perfect way to explore it!

Teshima Island in the Seto Inland Sea

2024 is looking to be a fantastic year for Japan travel, this is just a small sample of all the amazing things to look forward to in the next year, and even beyond! So start planning your trip, and we’ll see you in Japan in 2024!

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