Destinations

Travel with purpose: It’s time to return to Fukushima

Sponsored by Aizu Dream Development

There’s never been a better time to travel to Japan.

A land of untold surprises, Japan is a country filled with amazing people, experiences and destinations just waiting to be discovered. It’s also becoming an exponentially popular country.

New estimates by data and analytics company Global Data predict 1.7 billion international tourists will visit Japan in 2022, following the success of the Rugby World Cup in 2019, and the predicted accomplishments of the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The country aims to attract 40 million inbound visitors by 2020 and 60 million by 2030.

For some of the nearly two billion travellers that will visit Japan in the years to come, seeing the country’s main haunts – Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka or Hiroshima – will be considered a priority, all of which are found on the so-called ‘Golden Route’ of Japan.

These destinations should appeal for first-time visitors to the country. But for those who understandably want to revisit, their travel advisors should explain that seeing the country’s lesser-touristed regions are as appealing, if not more so, than Japan’s well-known regions.

Fukushima

Tsuruga-jō castle, Aizuwakamatsu: In Fukushima, travellers can experience a sprawling history embedded in samurai culture (iStock.com/NicolasMcComber)

For return visitors to Japan, one of the best regions to explore in 2020 is Fukushima Prefecture, a destination returned to multiple travel hot lists, thanks to the prefecture’s plenitude of wonderful natural, wellness and foodie experiences.

And, thanks in no small part to the Abe government’s tireless efforts to ensure the world that the region’s Northern, Western and Southern regions are perfectly safe.

No longer billed as dark tourism experiences, visits to Fukushima provide travellers an opportunity to discover an authentic side of Japan, far from the heavy footfall of Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka, and to give back to a region recovering in a big way.

Tohoku region

Mt. Bandai, one of the sources of the legendary Nakanosawa Onsen, reflected in Inawashiro Lake in spring (iStock.com/Torsakarin)

Featured on National Geographic’s 2020 list of top trips for the year ahead, the Tohoku region contains the six northernmost prefectures on Japan’s main island of Honshu, and features pristine forests, gorges and crater lakes, thousand-year-old temples and shrines, and respected local festivals.

And yet, according to the outlet, less than two per cent of international travellers come here.

In the northeast of this region in Fukushima Prefecture, travellers will discover a mesmerising onsen region known as Inawashiro (also known as Nakanosawa Onsen), where a natural spa originating in the Adatara and Bandai mountains has been in use since the 18th century.

Inawashiro is also home to 15 remote ryokan and hotels, including the ultimate mountaineer’s retreat at Numajiri Kogen. Founded by Junko Tabei – the first woman in the world to scale Mount Everest – the lodge is situated near some of Aizu’s best snow regions and multiple restaurants.

And after recently reopening after renovations, Numajiri Kogen is a perfect place to relax and revitalise, with the ryokan offering its very own hot spring bath, and friendly staff and chefs proudly serving not only local delicious dishes, but also secret recipes.

Numajiri Kogen, Lodge, Inawishiro town (Aizu Dream Development)

A town with an estimated population of some 14,400 people, Inawashiro is also the stepping-off point for adventures in the mountainous onsen region of Numajiri Yumoto, which shares the same source as Nakanosawa Onsen.

Here, travellers can bathe in hot, natural geothermal waters or experience the onsen at its source, some 1,250 metres above sea level, in an area between the Adatara and Bandai mountains.

Back on the watchlist

Fukushima Prefecture will also return to travel watch lists this year, as the city plays host to the world’s biggest event – the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics – with sports played at the J-Village football stadium and Azuma baseball stadium in Fukushima City.

The Olympic torch – partly made of aluminium recycled from the temporary shelters used to house 500,000 people displaced in 2011 – will also begin its relay in Fukushima, just outside the 30-kilometre exclusion zone of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, before moving through the neighbouring prefectures of Miyagi and Iwate.

For everything you need to know about Fukushima, including agent advice, destination and experience guidance, and tours and itineraries of the region, speak to the experts at Aizu Dream Development, an exclusive Japan-based travel agency specialising in travel to the Tohoku region and East Japan.

Featured image: Tadami Line, Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture (iStock.com/Torsakarin)

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Destinations

Tourist slammed for daring Instagram video on the edge of 500m waterfall

A 25-year-old influencer has been heavily criticized for taking photos of herself on the edge of a very threatening looking waterfall and, you know, fair enough.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

CLIA names new global chairman

There’s been a major change in CLIA’s boardroom, and we’re not talking about the new fiddle-leaf fig.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

DFAT accidentally advises visa applicants to travel overseas despite COVID-19 pandemic

Looks like someone at the Department of Home Affairs is getting fired after accidentally telling visa applicants to get overseas immediately during a global pandemic.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Savvy agent scores loads of cruise bookings during Victoria’s lockdown

Meanwhile, the only thing Travel Weekly’s achieved in lockdown was to eat his weight in potato chips while cramming as many Netflix series into one day as possible.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Northern Beaches COVID-19 outbreak led to $7 billion loss for tourism industry: TTF

Avalon residents have reportedly gone back into quarantine to escape the blame for this huge loss to the tourism industry.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Federal government urged to introduce HECS-style loan scheme for small businesses

Could this turn out to be another much-needed funding opportunity for travel agents? Let’s bloody hope so.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Air New Zealand updates international flight schedule to end of June

Keen to know the Kiwi carrier’s international movements over the next few months? All is revealed here.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

WATCH: “Naughty” tourists forced to do push-ups for not wearing masks in Bali

Travel Weekly staff would do anything to avoid doing push-ups. Hell, we’ll wear six masks if we have to.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

Airbnb appoints new regional boss

APAC hoteliers are looking over their shoulder after the home-sharing giant named its new bossman for the region.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

WTTC releases mental health guidelines for travel and tourism sectors

At a time when mental health could not be more important, the world’s leading tourism organisation has released some new guidelines to help businesses of all sizes in the industry support their employees.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Silversea announces huge commission bonus, as Silver Dawn hits the water

Would you like to get a fat bonus on top of your next cruise commission? Get on board this latest offer from Silversea.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

APAC countries dominate the latest passport rankings

They might seem fairly useless right now, but that hasn’t stopped Henley & Partners from churning out its latest passport index.

Share

CommentComments