From February 28 through March 7, JNTO welcomed international convention organizers to Japan for "Meet Japan 2014", an event that introduced a variety of potential destinations for future conventions.
After arriving, participants stayed overnight in Tokyo before departing for an exciting four-day study tour of cities with lots to offer an international convention. The tour offered three courses: 1. Kobe & Yokohama, 2. Matsue & Takamatsu, 3. Okinawa & Kanazawa. The study tours featured customized itineraries that allowed participants to see historical sites, savour the local cuisine and enjoy Japanese traditional culture (such as the tea ceremony and paper doll making), all while visiting convention centres and accommodations.
After the study tour, the participants returned to Tokyo to attend an all-day business session. It gave participants an opportunity to meet with representatives from nine cities for further discussions about holding conferences. The farewell party on the final day was held in Happoen's banquet room, which is surrounded by an enchanting Japanese garden. At the party, the participants enjoyed a Japanese drum performance, and a traditional Japanese craft involving the sculpting of candy.
Here's what some Meet Japan participants had to say after the programme:
"Japan has many attractive places you can visit five, 10 times and still want to come back and see more"
"Japan has an incredible diversity, and the business session was a great chance to learn about convention cities in Japan"
"JNTO calls it a study tour, but it is so much more than that. It has been a great learning experience to think about our conferences being held in Japan"
"This trip, unlike my previous visits to Tokyo, has been an extraordinary new experience to me. From the southern tip subtropical Okinawa to Kanazawa facing the Sea of Japan, I enjoyed the different landscapes, cultures, and foods, and the Japanese hospitality that was amazing everywhere. I will definitely recommend that my country hold an international convention in Japan in the near future".
JNTO conducts this event every year, and in the past nearly 60% of participants have gone on to choose Japan as their next convention destination. (The World Congress on Dance Research, Chiba, 2014, and the International Wildlife Management Congress, Sapporo, 2015, are two examples of conventions organized by participants.)
If you are considering holding a convention in Japan, we'd love to see you at Meet Japan 2015 next year. Experience Japan's famed hospitality, its beautiful landscapes and its sightseeing attractions as you visit well-organized convention facilities and talk with knowledgeable, friendly staff in various cities.
JNTO will be exhibiting at the following trade fairs this year. Stop by and see us at the Japan Booth!
JNTO will be exhibiting at IT&CM China and IMEX soon. We look forward to seeing you in Shanghai and Frankfurt!
With four major international airports, Japan is already a major global transportation hub, but newly introduced international and domestic flights are making Japan an even more convenient destination for travellers.
United Airlines introduced the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on its Tokyo–Seattle and Osaka–San Francisco routes in February 2014. Air New Zealand will also launch Boeing 787-9 service from Auckland to Tokyo in November.
Once in Japan, visitors have plenty of wallet-friendly flights to choose from—new domestic and international destinations have been added by Japan’s low cost carriers. The rebranded Vanilla Air (previously Air Asia Japan) launched two new routes: Tokyo–Sapporo on January 29 and Tokyo–Seoul on March 1. Peach Aviation also introduced a twice-daily route between Kansai International Airport and Matsuyama on February 1. Jetstar will be launching a four times weekly non-stop service between Melbourne and Tokyo (Narita) on April 29, 2014; the Airbus A330 aircraft will offer business and economy class seating.
The Narita Express (N'EX) directly connects Narita International Airport with major urban areas in and around Tokyo. In January, one-way discount tickets on N'EX for foreign visitors to Japan went on sale. Rapid and comfortable trains with no need to transfer are now available at a savings of approximately 50%.
In 2013, Japan achieved a long-awaited goal of attracting 10 million visitors from overseas in a single year. With the 2020 Olympic & Paralympic Games in Tokyo just over six years away, Japan will be further developing tourism infrastructure. It expects to welcome many more conferences, meetings and visitors from abroad in the coming years.
The Shinkansen, Japan's world-famous bullet train, will soon be reaching new corners of the country at top speeds, with extensions to Kanazawa and Hakodate opening in 2014 and 2015. The Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, an extension of the Nagano Shinkansen Line, is planned to begin operations in spring 2015, linking the cities of Nagano and Kanazawa. The newly built E7 series Shinkansen train, with a maximum speed of 260kph, will be running on this line.
With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in mind, an initiative is underway to increase the number of ATMs in Japan allowing cash withdrawals using foreign credit cards. Japan's three largest banks are all planning to roll out ATMs that accept foreign credit cards, facilitating ease of travel and shopping for visitors from overseas.
There are already about 45,000 ATMs in Japan at which foreign-issued credit cards can be used. These are at post offices and convenience stores across the country, as well as airports, train stations, and many shopping facilities. The ATMs provide convenient access to cash for many foreign visitors. Instructions, credit card statements and vocal cues are virtually always offered in multiple languages. Now, one of Japan's three megabanks plans to adopt ATMs that accept foreign cards by March 2015. This is expected to improve convenience for foreign business travellers.
Moreover, plans call for an expansion of the kinds of goods that foreign visitors can purchase free of consumption tax, starting on October 1, 2014. In addition to electrical and well-known brand items, visitors from abroad will now be able to buy cosmetics and food products (which are popular as souvenirs and gifts) duty free. Duty free shops will be expanded beyond Tokyo and Osaka to other regions of Japan to encourage foreign visitors to buy sakes, confections and other local speciality goods. In the run-up to the Olympics, visiting Japan will become an even smoother experience than it already is!
JTA and JNTO have chosen a group of Japanese scholars to be "MICE Ambassadors" for a variety of industries and academic disciplines, with the mission of attracting international meetings to Japan. These scholars will serve as the face of Japan, publicizing the country's appeal and recruiting MICE business in their various fields. The URL below links to information about the Ambassador Programme. Please visit the website and consider Japan as your next MICE destination!
A new expansion will make ANA the largest airline carrier at Haneda Airport, and the one offering the most international flights. Haneda is easily accessible from Tokyo, and ANA's new routes and flight schedules, combined with its existing domestic network, will make it more convenient than ever for passengers to travel both within Japan and abroad.
New routes will run between Haneda and the following cities: London, Paris, Vancouver, Jakarta, Manila, Munich, and Hanoi.
ANA will also be increasing the number of flights between Haneda and the following destinations: Singapore, Bangkok, and Frankfurt.
It's the little things that make your flight comfortable, like a hot towel. Noise-canceling headphones. The fact that every seat has a large partition to maximize your privacy. When you fly ANA, you can take pleasure in enjoying the things you wanted, but didn't know you needed.
Coffee. Soda. Cocktails. A 13-hour flight calls for a variety of different drinks, and our sommeliers and beverage specialists crafted the perfect in-flight menu for you to enjoy. Our cabin attendants already know what you’ll have next, and it’s coming right up.
The "Experience JAPAN Fare" is a special rate offered by ANA to foreign visitors to Japan: use any ANA route within Japan at a flat rate of 10,500 yen per sector. This rate is even available on airlines other than ANA. A reservation is required, but it's easy to book tickets through the ANA website. Please read the previous article to learn more about the Experience JAPAN Fare.
*Beginning April 2014, 10,800 yen.
Experience JAPAN Fare:
ANA, Japan's leading airline, has partnered with Ashoka, headquartered in Arlington, VA, to launch a new initiative to increase the impact of some of the world's most inspiring social entrepreneurs. It's called "Blue Wing: Wings for Changemakers".
Its aim is to increase the mobility of some of the world’s most inspiring social entrepreneurs. Blue Wing was officially unveiled today at wingsforchangemakers.com. Under this innovative collaboration, ANA will offer transportation within its route network to five Ashoka Fellows ("changemakers"). In addition, ANA has also pledged to provide financial support for the fellow's travel needs outside of the ANA network. You can even make a donation yourself at the interactive Blue Wing website.
Participants can read about the inspiring stories and recent activities of each changemaker on the program’s website and cast one vote a week to the cause of their choice ("Vote"). For every vote cast, ANA will contribute $0.50 to the respective changemaker. These funds will help offset their travel-related costs which could be utilized more effectively to grow their impact. In addition, participants will be able to book a flight on ANA via the Blue Wing website and have 1% of the ticket proceeds directed to the changemaker of their choice ("Fly"). This unique program empowers travelers by allowing them to make the air travel they already do positively impact the world. The website will also make it easy for participants to share the stories of changemakers to their personal networks to help spread the word about important changemaking activities ("Share").
The "Vote" "Fly" and "Share" features will give participants the opportunity to raise awareness, champion a cause, and make their travel impactful. The website will also introduce an innovative platform that will allow participants to track their individual impact in a tangible, meaningful way and communicate directly with the changemakers they are supporting.
From December 8-12, 2013, JNTO held its Incentive ShowCase 2013. This event gave key decision-makers on incentive travel from China and Southeast Asia a chance to experience potential tour itineraries first-hand, highlighting what a number of cities around Japan have to offer. The goal of the event is to attract incentive tours to Japan by raising awareness of new tour destinations. On December 11 at the Tokyo International Forum, business sessions were held with JNTO convention cities. Here are some of the cities that were visited on this year's itineraries.
Perhaps Gifu's most famous and unique cultural tradition is "ukai", cormorant fishing in the Nagara River. Masters of this tradition called "usho" have been using captive cormorants to catch fish for more than 1,300 years.
Between May 11 and October 15 of each year, there are sightseeing boats that give you a close-up view of ukai. Incentive tours can feature an usho explaining his craft's history and methods to the group, or even the special treat of six ukai boats lining up to drive the fish. At the Nagaragawa Ukai Museum, open year-round, dramatic videos and a variety of other exhibits will immerse an incentive tour group in the culture of ukai.
In addition, since 2011 Gifu has hosted the Nagaragawa Onpaku Excursion, a cultural exchange event at which participants can try their hand at making Japanese confections, put on traditional Japanese clothing for a stroll around town, and take part in other delightful activities.
The city of Seki is historically associated with swordmaking, and is home to the Seki Sword Tradition Museum. There, a tour group can watch a live demonstration of the 700-year old art of Japanese sword forging, and even hold swords themselves. In Gujo, the Gujo Hachiman museum in offers lessons in the local bon dancing tradition. There are also workshops where you can make your own plastic food replicas, and make sure to stroll Gujo's scenic streets, where you'll feel the atmosphere of an old castle town. This is an ideal program for team building as well as incentive tours.
Seki Sword Tradition Museum:
Shizuoka is known for its beautiful natural attractions, notably Mt. Fuji, as well as the many distinctive products made amid these picturesque surroundings. Mt. Fuji and Miho no Matsubara are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers some of the most iconic scenery in all of Japanese sightseeing…sure to be a major selling point for any incentive tour.
The Nippondaira Hotel is located in Nihondaira, which looks out on this spectacular landscape. Garden-side rooms offer superb views of the mighty Mt. Fuji, Sagawa Bay and glittering city lights. The 80 guest rooms, which are perfect for foreign travellers, offer a generous 45 square metres of space on average. In September 2012, the hotel reopened after a complete renovation that brought it to the highest international environmental standards. In 2013, the hotel hosted the United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues (UNCDI).
Historic sites in Shizuoka include the residence of Nagamasa Yamada, a samurai who visited Thailand in the Edo period, and the Kuno-zan Toshogu Shrine of the first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu. Fugetsuro is a ryotei restaurant in the premises of the former residence of the last Tokugawa shogun, Yoshinobu. Shizuoka is a compact city, and all of these historic sites are located close together.
Shizuoka also offers an ample selection of unique venues for incentive tours. At the Marine Science Museum Social Education Centre, part of Tokai University, you can hold a party in front of a massive aquarium tank that contains more than 350 species of marine life. You can also see exhibits featuring deep-sea fish and observe tsunami simulations in a pool. The aquarium was designed to stimulate curiosity about science. A ship called the S-Pulse Dream Ferry can also be rented out for private cruises.
Shizuoka's balmy climate is perfect for growing tea, Ishigaki strawberries, and wasabi, the last of which is used in the making of special savoury pickles. In general, the area has a large number of delicious local specialities. The port of Shimizu lands more northern bluefin tuna than any other in Japan, and Suruga Bay is famous for its sakura shrimp. The city's oden stew is known for being tasty and affordable. An eating itinerary in Shizuoka is sure to satisfy.
Kuno-zan Toshogu Shrine:
Niigata is known for growing Japan's best rice, and for its cultural traditions surrounding rice agriculture. Niigata also uses its rice to make delicious sake. Many breweries offer tours and tastings of their junmai sake. Sasa-dango is a local traditional speciality of mochi rice balls—made with delicious Niigata rice, of course—filled with red bean paste and wrapped in bamboo leaves. Tour groups can visit a dango-making kitchen and make these treats themselves.
Accommodation in Niigata ranges from traditional ryokan inns at onsen hot spring resorts to hotels that can house even the largest groups. The Niigata waterfront features a major integrated convention and hotel complex called Toki Messe. You can conduct meetings, hold parties, and then spend the night, all under one roof.
The Northern Culture Museum occupies the former estate of a wealthy 19th century farming family. Groups can enjoy a tea ceremony in the Saito Family Summer Villa, which is over 100 years old. There is also the Cave d'Occi winery, where groups can observe vineyards and the winemaking process. Day trips to onsen hot spring resorts are possible, and there is also skiing at Echigo Yuzawa. In short, Niigata offers a wide range of Japanese experiences to incentive tour participants.
Northern Culture Museum:
The Saito Family Summer Villa:
In 1998, Nagano successfully hosted the Winter Olympics, establishing its credentials as a cosmopolitan city to the world.
Nagano is known for its traditional handicrafts, including bamboo work, as well as a range of manufacturing industries such as electronics, precision machinery, food production and printing. The Nagano Olympics was the occasion for establishing the city as a resort destination for winter sports, and also for year-round activities like canoeing and paragliding. At the same time, the city has continued to emphasize its rich traditional heritage. Nagano is also a hub of higher education. It is home to Shinshu University, which hosted the 2008 International Conference on Carbon—680 delegates from 30 countries attended.
↓ Take bus (150 yen/10 minutes) to
↓ Take bus (600 yen/30 minutes) to
Archery lesson (free/60 minutes), or oyaki dumpling making (1,000 yen/60 minutes)
© NAGANO Convention & Visitors Bureau
Estimated Total Budget: 3,250 yen
*Zenkoji/Matsushiro one-day pass: 1,500 yen
- Lots of hands-on activities
- Showcase Nagano's gourmet dining
Zenkoji, an ancient Buddhist temple in Nagano, has been welcoming pilgrims for 1,400 years. It is open to all. Its main hall is a masterpiece of Edo-period Buddhist architecture and a National Treasure of Japan. The temple's Buddha statue is believed to be the oldest one existing in Japan, although almost no one is permitted to see it. The foremost attraction for pilgrims is the corridor beneath the main hall where people must feel their way around in pitch-darkness, searching for a lock behind which lies the road to paradise. Whoever touches this lock is said to receive the Buddha's blessing.
For more information, please visit the English website:
This picturesque street is lined with historic buildings housing cafes, inns, galleries and other shops.
Road improvements made for the 1998 Olympics have helped to create a cityscape that showcases the historic character of Nagano.
Enjoy a stroll that takes you past gift shops, handicraft vendors and stores that have been selling a famous local spice blend called shichimi togarashi for generations. You can also see buckwheat soba noodles being handmade through the windows of restaurants.
This castle town was founded by the Sanada clan of samurai. Many samurai estates and old temples still stand in Matsushiro, which is a historic, charming district filled with atmosphere of bygone days. The Taikomon Gate of the ruined Matsushiro Castle has been reconstructed, and its gardens include the spectacular Sanada residence, a historic school, and many other interesting attractions. Rickshaws can be hired, and they are a great way to tour the sights. Hands-on activities include archery sessions and classes that teach you how to make oyaki dumplings, a local speciality. These dumplings are stuffed with rapeseed greens, julienned daikon radish, mushrooms, pumpkin, eggplant and other vegetables.
For more information about Matsushiro and making oyaki, please visit the English website:
Nagano, and Togakushi in particular, is famous for Shinshu-style soba buckwheat noodles.
Buckwheat will grow even in cold climates, so it has long been a favourite crop of the region around Nagano.
There are a number of places where you can try your hand at making soba noodles from scratch, then cook and eat them on the spot!
For more information, please visit the English website:
Located in a rugged mountain canyon, called the "valley of hell", this unique spot is world-famous for the Japanese macaques that bathe in natural hot springs—this iconic image was even featured on the cover of Life magazine! Visitors from abroad flock to see the "snow monkeys". The best time to visit is between mid-October and early April, when the cold weather draws the monkeys to the geothermally heated pools.
For more information, please visit the English website:
Togakushi Shrine is a Shinto place of worship founded roughly two thousand years ago. Famous for its scenic and historic character, the shrine's precincts feature a beautiful avenue lined with imposing 300-year old cryptomeria trees. Just a one-hour trip by car or bus from Nagano brings you to this mystical place. In springtime, enjoy the fresh green of new growth, and in autumn, the gorgeous colours of the leaves.
For more information about Togakushi, please visit the English website:
Bus from Nagano Station (1,350 yen one way/75 minutes)