Promoting Travel to Japan Takes Center Stage in Tokyo

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Sightseeing around JATA Tourism EXPO Japan, which took place in Tokyo Sept. 26 and Sept. 27.
Sightseeing around JATA Tourism EXPO Japan, which took place in Tokyo Sept. 26 and Sept. 27.

Recommend attended the VISIT JAPAN Travel & MICE Mart 2015, which took place Sept. 25 through Sept. 26 at Tokyo Big Sight, also known as the Tokyo International Exhibition Center, located on Tokyo Bay (it is a planned venue for the 2020 Summer Olympics, which will take place in Tokyo). During the busy mart, which included 8,000 business meetings, journalists from around the world—U.S., UK, Australia, Germany, Italy, Canada and China, among others—had the opportunity to meet with an array of domestic sellers, including representatives from 199 local governments, 65 hotels, 47 travel companies/land operators, and 11 shopping centers, retailers and restaurants. Other domestic sellers included theme parks, unique venues and MICE-related facilities.

I did a lot of chatting with many of these domestic sellers, including Kyoto by the Sea—the seafood, I was told, is out of this world; TOKI, which organizes high-end experiences that showcase Japan’s oldest traditions, including cuisine-focused excursions, right in the middle of bustling Tokyo; the Nihonbashi area of Tokyo, where visitors can book a 3-hour Kimono for a Day tour during which they are fitted in a kimono and stop by area shops, a shrine and a sushi restaurant; and the Aomori Prefecture, the country’s top producer of apples and where visitors can go hiking in the Oirase Gorge National Park or dip into one of 145 hot springs. I’ll have in-depth information on these sellers, as well as the many others I met with, in a Japan-focused Recommend Weekly slated to run Nov. 4.

Viewing traditional crafts in the making at JATA Tourism EXPO Japan.
Viewing traditional crafts in the making at JATA Tourism EXPO Japan.

Complementing the VISIT JAPAN Travel & MICE Mart 2015 was the JATA Tourism EXPO Japan 2015, a travel fair that took place on Sept. 26 and Sept. 27, showcasing destinations from around the world, including the U.S., Europe, Mexico, and Australia. There was, of course, a whole area of the exhibition center dedicated to Asia, with a huge chunk focusing on Japan. As a visitor to Japan, one of the most interesting areas of the Japan-focused exhibit for me was the section dedicated to the Traditional Crafts of Japan, which are designated by the Minister of Economy and include textiles, ceramics, woodcraft and crafts made of washi paper. In the corridor that showcased the country’s traditional crafts, I saw garden lanterns from Kumamoto Prefecture; cherry-bark work and lacquerware, both from Akita Prefecture; weavings from Shiga Prefecture; handmade paper from Tokushima Prefecture; and ceramics from Nagasaki Prefecture. A trip to Japan should include time for visitors to view these traditional crafts in the making. The Japan National Tourism Organization provides information on traditional handicrafts and where they can be found on its website.

For more information on suggested itineraries to Japan and how to plan a trip for your clients, visit jnto.go.jp/eng.

I also made my way through “other parts of Asia” while wandering through the JATA Tourism EXPO Japan 2015. Here’s some eye candy for your enjoyment.

For information on visitor numbers to Japan and what’s driving those numbers, as well as hotel development, click here.

For a Tokyo Teaser, check out my Eye on the World.