Japan is strengthening its position as a wellness destination thanks to rapid growth in products and services based on the country’s hot springs, nutrient-rich cuisine, diverse nature and healthy living.
Agents, tour operators and other industry professionals are now expecting a significant increase in arrivals attracted by these offerings, particularly from the Asia-Pacific region, as travellers seek destinations that will support their physical and mental health.
“Wellness has joined shopping and sightseeing as a priority activity” among travellers from the Asia-Pacific, noted an analysis of the Global and Asia Wellness Tourism Sector. It continued with a “pent-up demand for wellness tourism could soar as Chinese and other Asians seek destinations that can help strengthen their well-being” post-lockdown.
Japan is poised to take advantage of the growth in well-being tourism. Valued at US$303.6 billion, Japan’s wellness economy is the second-largest in the Asia-Pacific region and the third-largest in the world as of August 2023, according to non-profit organisation Global Wellness Institute.
“Well-being has long been part of Japan’s spiritual culture, from its forest bathing experiences immersed in nature to its centuries of enjoying onsen hot springs for both therapeutic and relaxation purposes,” said the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), adding that new offerings continue to be launched.
Zen retreat Zenbo Seinei, which opened in April 2022, offers a dedicated space for meditation and yoga on Awaji Island located in the Seto Inland Sea. Day-trippers and overnight guests can also enjoy vegan cuisine using seasonal, local produce from the island, as well as experiences in the tea ceremony, traditional calligraphy and other contemplative activities.
In Toyama Prefecture, River Retreat Garaku provides Art Walk, a new activity that leads guests through lush mountain and river scenery along the Jinzu Gorge using a series of Japanese contemporary art works.
Japan is also attracting international brands focusing on wellness.
This April saw the opening of Bulgari Hotel Tokyo, only the eighth hotel of the luxury brand. In addition to a 1,000m² spa and a 25m indoor pool, guests are offered fine dining-inspired Japanese traditional healthy eating, including superfoods such as miso.