It’s been a tricky couple of years for travel, but with the summer of 2022 now upon us, many countries around the world have finally begun to ease restrictions to ensure that luxury getaways – from city escapes to long-haul island retreats – are finally back on the cards.
One country that has taken a little longer to finally start welcoming tourists back with open arms is Japan, and we’ve been waiting on the edge of our seats to finally be given the green light to book those first class flights. But the good news is that on 10th June, the borders finally reopened to visitors from a number of different countries across the globe, including the UK. There are, however, a couple of caveats, as currently, it’s only possible to travel to Japan for tourism purposes if you’re on a fully escorted tour and meet some other special requirements.
Nevertheless, it’s a sign that restrictions are beginning to relax for those eager to explore the nation, and many industry experts believe that a return to normality is imminent. So, if you’re looking for a mind-blowing destination for your next luxury trip, then here are four reasons Japan should be at the top of your list.
The breath-taking landscapes
While it’s almost certainly best known for buzzing and technologically advanced cities like Tokyo, Japan is home to some truly breath-taking natural landscapes, with rolling green hills and mountains, plunging valleys and spectacular forests all making it the perfect place to escape and immerse yourself in nature for a tranquil and relaxing break.
The iconic Mount Fuji is, without a doubt, one of the most notable natural wonders to add to your itinerary, and is easily accessible by train from Shinjuku. The highest mountain in Japan and one of its ‘Three Holy Mountains’, views from the bottom are stunning in themselves – and those who are up to the challenge can climb to the top between July and early September for one of the most Instagram-worthy vistas in the country.
Of course, Mount Fuji isn’t the only landmark that is worth a visit, and from the majestic Arashiyama bamboo forest to the Ritsurin landscape gardens on Shikoku island, the possibilities are endless.
The unique culture
Japan has a rich and colourful culture which dates all the way back to 14,000 BCE, and immersing yourself in it is one of the single best reasons to visit the nation. The native religion of the country is considered to be Shinto, with festivals and traditions likely to punctuate any visit you make.
The Japanese artform of Anime, which uses computer animation to bring characters to life through a variety of different mediums, is famous across the globe, and visiting its birthplace – Tokyo – is a memorable experience even if you’re not particularly a fan. One of the best ways to do it? Join an English walking tour, where from gaming cafés to anime shopping, your guide will lead you on a journey through the best experiences.
Aside from that, you’ll find palaces, temples and shrines aplenty worth stopping at everywhere you go in Japan, and its thriving cities are an assault on the senses indeed. After dark, the nightlife scene centres around karaoke and is a must for an authentic Japanese experience.
The mouth-watering cuisine
Japanese cuisine has become a global obsession over recent years, with chefs and foodies alike proclaiming themselves to be fans. But you’ve never really tried authentic Japanese food until you’ve visited the country itself and witnessed the craftsmanship that goes into bringing each individual dish to life.
Japanese restaurant cuisine isn’t just about taste, although it does a pretty excellent job in that respect – but also about beauty, form and harmony, with each dish prepared with perfection in mind. Perhaps what makes it so impressive is the fact that it relies on just a few simple ingredients to create its multitude of taste sensations – and Tokyo, which is home to the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, is the perfect place to enjoy a luxury dining experience and some of the best culinary creations the nation has to offer.
The burgeoning entertainment and nightlife scene
Cities like Tokyo and Osaka come alive after dark, and from karaoke and anime gaming to dancing the night away, there’s something to suit all tastes.
Whether you’re a high roller or simply like to visit the casino for fun, it’s likely you’ll have clocked the fact that historically, gambling was illegal in Japan and so not exactly a destination that could scratch that particular itch. But thanks to the growing number of Chinese tourists looking for places to play roulette, poker and other popular games, the Japanese authorities have finally begun to relent, with cities including Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama all having expressed interest in opening luxury casino resorts since.
After the nation’s new IR bill moved to legalise gambling in the country, things are certainly looking promising, but with plenty more red tape to get through before construction can begin, it could take until the late 2020s until the nation’s first land-based casino opens its doors.
Nevertheless, it’s an exciting time to visit Japan and witness its transformation and its new, more open-minded approach to entertainment. And while you might not be able to play in a real life casino just yet, there are some excellent online casinos in Japan you can log onto to get some practice in the meantime.