Japan in 2013

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Mt. Fuji.
Photo courtesy of JNTO

Japan, in the wake of the aftermath of the earthquake, is quickly recovering and booming with new hotels, transportation options and events for 2013.

“You can witness the amazingly quick and thorough recovery from such an unprecedented devastation if you visit Japan in 2013,” says Yuki Tanaka, executive director for the Japan National Tourism Organization. “The normality has been back already in 2012, but the year of 2013 will be as good as 2012.”

In August 2013, for example, InterContinental Hotels Group is opening the Osaka InterContinental Hotel, the first of the brand’s properties in Osaka. The hotel will feature 215 guestrooms, and is located in the heart of the city’s shopping and dining district.

“InterContinental is a brand that’s gone through some of history’s most defining moments; its rich geographical and cultural heritage will always be a part of its legacy,” says Jan Smits, managing director, IHG Asia Australasia. “This is yet another great moment in the InterContinental brand’s history, and I’m confident that by establishing our presence in one of Japan’s key cities, we’ll propel the brand from strength to strength in this region.”

In Nagahama City, L’Hotel du Lac has joined the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The modern villa offers guests sprawling views of Japan’s largest lake, Lake Biwa, and is only three hours by train from Kansai International Airport. The hotel features French and Italian cuisine, La Nuit shochu bar, indoor and outdoor bathing pools, an outdoor swimming pool, and a tennis court.

For more information, visit slh.com.

After being featured as the bad-guy’s hideout in the new James Bond film Skyfall, travelers may want to head to the deserted Hashima Island. Also known as “Battleship Island,” the island with its abandoned structures is surrounded by a sea wall and features Japan’s first concrete apartment and the first room gardening in Japan.

The island offers tours, which are $43.56 for adults. For more information, visit gunkanjima-concierge.com/english.

For clients interested in visiting Japan on a tour, Kensington Tours offers the 9-day Land of the Rising Sun Japan Discovery tour showcasing Japanese traditions and modern life in Tokyo and Kyoto—complete with tea houses, Zen gardens, sushi and more. Travelers will have the chance to take in spiritual temples and geishas on some of the tours.

Tours start at $2,995 pp and feature a private guide, airport transfers and four-star hotels. For more information, call (888) 903-2001 or visit kensingtontours.com.

Attracting contemporary art and design fans in one of Japan’s top art sites, the Setouchi Triennale 2013 will take place with three sessions held throughout the year: March 20 through April 21, July 20 through Sept. 1, and Oct. 5 through Nov. 4. The art festival will showcase the different seasons and permanent collections at 14 locations on small islands and the surrounding port cities. Visit setouchi-artfest.jp/en for more information.

The Aichi Triennale art festival also returns in 2013 in Nagoya’s surrounding area from Aug. 10 through Oct. 27, 2013. Inviting up to 30 artists, the festival features roadside art, all centered to Nagoya, so travelers can reach the event in 1.5 hours by the bullet train from Tokyo and one hour from Osaka.

“The events in 2013 reflect both long history and cutting-edge technology of Japan, and it also shows Japan’s tourism attraction,” Tanaka says. “The varieties of the events in Japan mean lots of ways to enjoy today’s Japan.  Japan has a lot to offer, and appeals to different people with different interest.”

U.S. travelers will have more options along the West Coast to get to Japan next year. Delta Air Lines is offering a new non-stop flight from Seattle to Tokyo’s inner-city airport, Haneda, with the inaugural flight in March 2013. Japan’s ANA, All Nippon Airways is also adding a nonstop flight, connecting San Jose, CA and Narita on Jan. 11, 2013.

Another new nonstop option to Narita is on United Airlines, offering flights between the city and Denver on March 31, 2013. In addition, Japan is opening an airport in the tropical island region of Okinawa, on Ishigaki Island, called Shin-Ishigaki Airport, on March 7, 2013.

Travelers going by train also have something to look forward to with the Bullet Train System in Kyushu adding the Seven Stars Cruise Train, which features first-class cars.

And in response to travelers with concerns about the country and possible radiation, Tanaka says: “The effect from the earthquake has been gone. For those with concerns about the radiation, both Tokyo and Sendai (the most tsunami-affected city) have even lower levels of radiation. Also, the US market marked the fastest recovery to tourism to Japan in 2011, which indicates that the popularity in the US market is growing.”

For more information about Japan, visit japantravelinfo.com.