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8 Things to Know About Travel to Japan in 2024

Japan remains one of the most appealing destinations in the world, and people know it. This year is shaping up to be a busy one for Japan, so if you have clients who want to explore the Land of the Rising Sun in 2024, there are a few things you should know to make their travels as smooth and memorable as possible.

Luckily, a team of Goway Destination Specialists have just returned from Japan. Based on their insights and experiences, we’ve put together the following list of the top things to know about travel to Japan in 2024.

1. The cherry blossom season is going to be busy.

Hirosaki Castle during the height of the cherry blossom bloom. (©JNTO)

There’s no season in Japan quite like the spring, when the country bursts with the pinks, yellows, and whites of cherry blossoms. Last year, international travellers could finally return to Japan during cherry blossom season, making it the busiest cherry blossom season ever. This year will likely be just as busy as last year. Most services are fully booked already. Luckily, Goway has an exclusive fourth departure date for our popular Japan Cherry Blossom Odyssey. If you have last-minute clients who want to see the cherry blossoms this year, get in touch today. We expect it to sell out quickly, so don’t delay.

2. Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka remain as fascinating as ever.

Tokyo’s Akihabara is also known as Electric Town. (©JNTO)

There is no shortage of things to do in the big tourist centres of Japan. Explore temples in Tokyo, including Senso-ji, the oldest Buddhist temple in the city, and Meiji Jingu Shrine, dedicated to the late emperor, before deep-diving into anime culture in Akihabara and trendsetting fashion in Omotesando and Takeshita Street of Harajuku. Kyoto has an endless assortment of temples and shrines to explore, which are particularly lovely during the colours of spring or fall. Osaka is a foodie haven and has one of the biggest and best castles in the nation. These cities are also great for higher-end travellers, with lots of gorgeous and unique accommodations, world-class cuisine, and great shopping opportunities. Our 9-day Signature Japan is a great option for luxury travellers to Japan.

3. But travellers should go beyond the main cities when exploring Japan.

Hokkaido is a haven for winter sports. (©JNTO)

There is so much to do in Japan that staying in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka barely scratches the surface of the country. On a trip to Japan, travellers should go further afield to enjoy the diverse experiences and environments of this beautiful country. Go beyond Osaka to connect to Hiroshima to learn about World War II history, see the floating torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine, and enjoy some okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes). Connect into the mountain regions of Hida and the Japanese Alps to go skiing and see the traditional farmhouses outside Takayama. Hit up coastal Kanazawa, home to one of the best gardens and best-preserved old towns in the nation. Head further south to Fukuoka to savour street food in Japan’s foodie capital or go north of Tokyo to explore the wilderness of Hokkaido. And we haven’t even mentioned Shikoku, Okinawa, and the other islands of Japan, which offer their own wonders and unique geographic environments. The 15-day Ultimate Japan is a great trip for travellers who want to see Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka while heading further afield to some of the lesser-known highlights of the nation.

4. Japan is a great destination for art lovers.

You’ll find art installations all across Naoshima Island.

Even if you don’t know who Yayoi Kusama is, you likely recognize her work, whether it’s the infinity mirrors that are the toast of every art gallery in the world or her massive decorated gourd statues. If you want to see her work in Japan, head to the art island of Naoshima, which is home to Kusama’s famous pumpkin, as well as hundreds of other art installations and several contemporary art museums. Naoshima is a haven for contemporary art lovers. But you don’t have to have contemporary art interests to love the artwork in Japan. It’s also home to some of the world’s most beautiful gardens, as gardening is one of Japan’s most cherished artistic practices. The 12-day Japan Art & Gardens combines the two sides of Japanese art on one itinerary, which includes a day on Naoshima Island.

5. Japan is a great destination for active travellers.

Cyclists connect from island to island via suspension bridges on the Shimanami Kaido. (©JNTO)

Food and culture might be at the top of the list when it comes to the attractions in Japan, but it’s also a great destination for active travellers who like to explore by cycle or foot. The highlights of Hida are perfect for cycling as is the Shimanami Kaido of the Seto Inland Sea, a very easy cycling route that goes across several small islands via the country’s impressive suspension bridges. Travellers can hike to the temples and shrines along the pilgrimage route of the Nakasendo Trail or the Kumano Kodo. Best of all is that you can relax each night in an onsen (hot spring), which is a much-loved tradition in Japan, and a common amenity at ryokans (traditional inns). The 15-day Japan Hike, Bike & Hot Springs combines many great active travel experiences with plenty of relaxation.

6. Trains remain the best way to get around Japan.

The kamome is a limited express train on the island of Kyushu. (©JNTO)

The train network in Japan is the envy of the rest of the world. Shinkansen (bullet trains) arrive frequently at Tokyo Station, taking travellers to Osaka and beyond, while regional networks connect you to each and every town imaginable. Trains are the best way to get around, especially when you take advantage of a Japan Rail Pass, which covers unlimited travel on the JR network over a set period, whether 7, 14, or 21 days. One thing you need to keep in mind, however, is that your clients should travel light when connecting by train. Most trains don’t have much storage space for massive suitcases, with most domestic travellers travelling light. Your clients can bring carry-on baggage with them, but we recommend they ship their larger suitcases ahead to their next destination, which is a common and convenient practice in Japan. Get in touch with an Asia Destination Specialist if you have further questions about travelling by train in Japan.

7. There are new attractions to see in 2024.

The Making of Harry Potter Experience at Warner Bros. Studio Japan is a hit with travellers.

Are your clients travelling with kids? Then they’ll want to head to some of the newest and coolest theme parks in Japan. By this point, everyone knows about Super Nintendo Land and DisneySea, but Japan now has Ghibli Park outside Nagoya, a theme park that brings to life the fantastic worlds of Studio Ghibli, including My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. Warner Bros. Studio Japan in Tokyo also introduced the Making of Harry Potter Experience, which is already a hit with international travellers.

8. Japan is extremely affordable for North American travellers right now.

Travellers will notice the affordability of food, even at premium restaurants. (©JNTO)

This is something our team noticed when visiting Japan last month. Right now, there’s a very favourable exchange rate with US and CA dollars. This means that we found everything affordable in the country, especially meals. Food in Japan is divine, so your clients should know that they can splurge when travelling across Japan, which is great considering Tokyo leads the world in Michelin starred restaurants. There’s also no tipping in Japan and most shops offer tax free savings to tourists who spend a minimum amount, so there are many ways to save while exploring the country.

This is a great year to explore Japan. Share these insights with your clients and help them make the most of this beautiful and endlessly exciting Asian destination. If you have any questions about travel to Japan or want to start planning a trip for your clients, get in touch today.


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