SOURCE: Japan National Tourism Organization

Japan National Tourism Organization

December 16, 2015 12:00 ET

What's New in Japan 2016

Japan's New Development in 2016 Is Seen in a Few Regions: From Southwest to North, Japan Continues to Step Forward in Tourism Development and World Class Hospitality for Visitors From All Over the World

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - December 16, 2015) -

Northern Japan:
The first big news in Japan is the Hokkaido Shinkansen (the Bullet Train), which has been extended to the gateway to Hokkaido, the northern most Island of Japanese archipelago. The new service represents not only direct land transportation from Tokyo to Hokkaido, but it also takes visitors to the culture-rich region of Tohoku along the way. Tohoku is the northern part of Honshu Island (the main island of Japan), rich in agriculture, fishing and folklore, and the high-speed train access makes this region much more accessible from major cities like Tokyo. The extended portion of the line crosses the ocean from Shin-Aomori to Hakodate, the southern tip of the northern Island of Hokkaido. Japan's famous Bullet Train runs through this world's longest underwater tunnel, Seikan Tunnel, which is 33.4 miles long and 787.4 feet at the deepest point. The tunnel connects traffic from Honshu island to Hokkaido, known for the world's best powder snow and the home of the richest agricultural land. Direct Bullet Train travel from Tokyo to Hakodate will be just over 4 hours.

Ise-Shima is known for the home of the most sacred Japanese Shinto shrines, the Ise Shrines, but the Ise-Shima National Park is also popular for both its unique natural landscape and its cultural importance. Covering the entire Kii Peninsula south of Nagoya city, the Ise-Shima National Park has a breathtaking panoramic view of Ago Bay, with dots of islands and rocks scattered all over. The peninsula's rugged coastline is perfect for the pearl cultivation industry, and one of the multiple inlets on the peninsula is Ago Bay, highly known as the world's premier location of cultured pearls: the famous Mikimoto Pearl are found here. The locals preserve the traditional techniques by female divers who pick pearls, oysters, shellfish and more. Ise-Shima is also the gateway to several prominent landmarks in central Japan such as the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Kumano Kodo pilgrimage path and Nachi Falls.

Ise-Shima is hosting the G7 Summit Meeting in spring of 2016, and national leaders and diplomatic figures will be welcome by these natural and cultural attractions. A global luxury hotel opening coincides with the G7 Summit in Ise-Shima: Aman Resorts is adding their second property in Japan, followed by their unconventional urban paradise in Tokyo. Amanemu will open as the very first Aman facility with natural hot springs. All 24 suites and 4 villas are built along the coast, with private natural hot spring tubs in each room. Aman Spa boasts local hot spring water in the heated outdoor pools as well, which makes Amanemu very different from other Aman properties.

This small island in Japan's Seto Inner Sea (Setouchi) has been secretly flocked by contemporary art fanatics for one-of-a-kind outdoor art installations and built-in architectural gems by Japanese architectural virtuoso Tadao Ando. These include Chichu Art Museum and Benesse House, which is both a museum and a hotel. Benesse Art Site Naoshima will be at the heart of the tri-annual international art festival, Setouchi Triennale 2016, which is taking place on 12 islands and 2 port cities of Setouchi starting March 20, 2016. The art festival focuses on creating a dialogue between local people, art, nature and visitors by featuring a unique compilation of international contemporary artworks, performances, regional food culture and folklore.

The architect, Ando, also designed a new property in Matsuyama City on Shikoku Island. Facing the Setouchi sea, he designed "minimal luxury" in this small luxury hotel, Setouchi Retreat Aongai, with only 7 suites. The location fits his concept because of the time-honored tradition, rich culture, and the breathtaking ocean view that constantly changes color all day long. Guests spend a slow, relaxing time in all the suites surrounded by blue color of the Setouchi Sea.

The top destination in Japan continues to grow: The Four Seasons Hotel has announced an opening of their Kyoto property in fall 2016. With 124 rooms, spa and pool, the property chose a location in Higashiyama District, an area with a high concentration of Japan's historic landmarks and where many post-card-perfect scenes are. The hotel presents the modern beauty of traditional Japanese and contemporary luxury in the picturesque historic area of Kyoto.

The world's famous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo is finally relocating on November 6, 2016. Tsukiji is the world's largest wholesale fish market, and is one of the top destinations in Tokyo for international travelers, where they can observe a lively tuna auction. The new Toyosu location is just a couple of miles away from the current location (where the market was established 80 years ago), and it is bigger than the old location at 100 acres. The facility has the latest seismic-proofing technology, and it includes an exclusive public viewing section for the tuna auction. The also popular outer market remains in the current location, where people can stroll for exceptional quality sushi meals and other food and cooking product shopping.

Hoshino Resorts, a Japan-based major resort and ryokan (Japanese style inn) operator, opens its fifth property of their flagship HOSHINOYA brand, HOSHINOYA Tokyo, in the heart of Tokyo. Tokyo is dominated by western-style hotels, but HOSHINOYA Tokyo opens its doors as the first urban location that offers a more traditional style experience. From the moment guests arrive and slip off their shoes, HOSHINOYA Tokyo promises sublime and authentic Japanese ryokan hospitality. The 18-story tatami-floored ryokan has 84 rooms, spa, restaurant, and a conference facility. It also takes advantage of a recent surprise geological discovery of natural hot springs. HOSHINOYA's other properties are already highly acclaimed for their unique presentation of local arts and traditional beauty mixed into contemporary amenities. HOSHINOYA Tokyo will open in July 2016 in the Marunouchi area between historic Tokyo station and the Imperial Palace.

Japan's top hotel chain Prince Hotel is making a major transformation with their flagship property in Akasaka, Tokyo. Their Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka will be replaced by the Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho in summer of 2016. The original hotel was a household name for over half a century, which they tore down in order to renew the facility in 2011. The new facility consists of two towers, and the hotel will be re-opened on floors 30 - 36 in one of the towers. The hotel guarantees a great view of the capital city, and the hotel houses 250 guest rooms with computerized controls and, as the tower name implies, artistic high-quality interior décor by Diego Gronda, a long-time hospitality design professional. The superior location in the commercial and business districts of Tokyo is an asset of the hotel.

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