Japan News 2017

Looking for new stories or travel tips for 2017? Here's what to expect from Japan this year, including new trains, hotel openings and an overview of the biggest events.

Hotel Openings

Openings in 2017

Two New Luxury Sightseeing Trains Will Launch in Spring 2017

Shikishima train - credit JR East
Two new luxury sight-seeing trains will launch in 2017. JR East will launch theirTrain Suite Shiki-shima on May 1, 2017, offering luxury journeys departing from Tokyo’s Ueno station through the north-eastern region of Tohoku and up into Hokkaido. JR West will introduce the Twilight Express Mizukazein spring 2017, travelling through the landscape of West Japan: the rich history and culture of Kyoto, Matsue, Izumo and Miyajima, and the beautiful natural scenery of the Sea of Japan, Mt. Daisen, and the Seto Inland Sea islands. Both cruise trains offer luxury accommodations and haute cuisine.

Japan House to Open in London

In 2017 London will welcome an extraordinary new building to introduce the city and its visitors to Japanese culture. Japan House will be a home of Japanese creativity, design and hospitality, offering events, restaurants, and a place to discover more about this fascinatingly diverse island nation. (Website in Japanese only for the time being: www.japanhouse.jp).

JNTO Opens Seven New Offices

In order to reach out to new markets, Japan National Tourism Organisation is preparing to open no fewer than seven offices before the end of March 2017. The new outposts will be in Madrid, Rome, Moscow, Delhi, Hanoi, Manila and Kuala Lumpur.

Moomin Theme Park in Saitama (pushed back to 2019)

The first Moomin theme park outside Finland will open at Lake Miyazawa in the Tokyo Metropolitan area in 2017 (now pushed back to 2019). Metsä, meaning ‘forest’ in Finnish, will consist of two zones; the ‘Moomin Zone’ and the ‘Public Zone’. In the ‘Moomin Zone’ visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the world of the Moomin family, while the ‘Public Zone’ will aim to replicate the Finnish atmosphere and environment so beloved of Moomin creator Tove Jansson.

Japan's First LEGOLAND to Open in Aichi

The new LEGOLAND Japan will be the first outdoor LEGOLAND theme park in Japan. The 9.3-hectare park will be aimed at families with children aged between 2 and 12 and will have more than 40 attractions, alongside a 2.1-meter-high reproduction of Nagoya Castle made from more than 225,000 Lego bricks. The park will be open from April 1, 2017. Find out further details here: www.legoland.jp/en.

Hot Spring Theme Park in Beppu, Kyushu

Following through on the Mayor's pledge last autumn to create a "spamusement" park, or hot spring themed theme park, the town of Beppu in Oita prefecture, Kyushu, will hold a ‘hot water splashing’ festival alongside the Beppu Hatto Onsen Festival (31st March to 3rd April) followed by a ‘hot spring theme park’ attraction at the existing Beppu Rakutenchi theme park in late July to coincide with the annual Beppu Sea of Fire Festival. Find out more here.

Okinawa to Open New Karate Museum in March 2017

Okinawa, the chain of sub-tropical islands to the south of Japan, is famed as the ancient home of karate. In March 2017 a new karate museum will open, celebrating the islands’ links to this martial art. The Okinawa Karate Kaikan will be located in Tomigusuku City, and will be home to three main buildings: 1) the Karate Dojo (the Martial Arts Dojo), 2) the Karate Museum, and 3) the Oku-no-in (Inner Sanctum) built with a red tiled roof that symbolizes Okinawan tradition. The new Karate Kaikan will also boast a training room, seminar room, dining space, and a karate equipment store. Annual international karate seminars will be held at the new buildings. Find out more about the new opening here: www.pref.okinawa.lg.jp/site/bunka-sports/bunka/karate/karatekaikan.html.

Matsurinoyu Hot Spring Complex to Open in Chichibu in Spring 2017

A brand new hot spring complex and shopping promenade is set to open in front of Seibu Chichibu Station in spring 2017. The new facility is intended to increase the appeal of the scenic Chichibu area, located 2 hours by train from central Tokyo. The highlight will surely be the outdoor "flower viewing bath", ideal for soaking away your cares in front of a quintessentially Japanese view in spring. The name of the complex includes the word “Matsuri (Festival)” in reference to the area's famed Chichibu Yomatsuri (Chichibu Night Festival), which you can also catch if you head there in winter.

Floating Capsule Rooms at Huis Ten Bosch Theme Park, Nagasaki

Dutch-themed theme park Huis Ten Bosch is taking the idea of "capsule hotel" to a whole new level. Soon, up to four guests will be able to pay to be marooned at sea, drifting off to sleep in a floating spherical two-storey capsule which is then cast adrift, and waking up the next morning at a deserted island in the bay. The unique new hotel experience will be launched at the end of 2017 - no details yet on whether it will include smashing a bottle of champagne on the bows of one of the capsules! Find out more here.

"Blazing Samurai" Animated Film due for Release on 4 August, 2017

Computer-animated action comedy film "Blazing Samurai" will be released on August 4, 2017. Reportedly inspired by Mel Brooks' classic film "Blazing Saddles", the story centres around Hank, a young dog who dreams of becoming a samurai to save his town "Kakamucho" from the nefarious feline warlord Ika Chu. With voice acting by famous actors such as Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais, Michelle Yeoh, Mel Brooks and George Takei, this film is sure to be a big hit with Japan fans and families alike.


The Rugby World Cup 2019 pool draw will take place in Kyoto in May 2017. Tickets for the event itself are expected to go on sale 12 months in advance, in September 2018. Find out more about the RWC 2019 here: www.rugbyworldcup.com/news/158737.

Robotic Art in Ginza: From 3 October 2016 – 15 January 2017, swing by Tokyo’s Ginza area to witness an art show with a difference. The Robotic Art Show will showcase robots performing exotic fan dances, robotic light displays and miniature sculptures. Find out more about the event and how to visit here: www.metoa.jp/en/event/roboticart-in-ginza.

Anime Japan will take place between March 23-26, 2017 at Tokyo Big Sight. See further details about the event here: www.anime-japan.jp/en.

Muslim Lifestyle Expo Japan 2017 will be Japan's first ever business event focusing on Muslim consumers. Full details can be found here: muslimlifestyle.jp/2017/contents_en/.

Yokohama Art Triennale 2017 will take the theme of ‘Islands, Constellations and Galapagos’, with a series of exhibitions designed to mark the 150th anniversary of Taisei Hokan: the formal restoration of political authority to the Emperor, and the end of Japan’s isolationist policy. The Triennale will take place between August 4 and November 5, 2017 with Yokohama Museum of Art and Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse acting as the main exhibition spaces. Find out more about the Triennale here: www.yokohamatriennale.jp/english.

Japan Alps Art Festival 2017 will take place in Omachi city in Nagano, known as the gateway to the Japan Alps and the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. The festival will explore the fascination of local resources through food and art, with 30-40 works set against the stunning backdrop of Omachi's natural surroundings - snow-capped mountains, Kurobe Dam, and the three Nishina Lakes, plus abundant natural hot springs. The festival will run for 57 days from June 4 to July 30, 2017. Find out more here: http://shinano-omachi.jp/ (website only in Japanese).

Frozen Fever at Tokyo Disneyland, which will take place nightly from 11 January to 19 March, will welcome children and adults with snowflake and Snowgie decorations around the park and a night-time fireworks and projection show as part of the Anna and Elsa's Frozen Fantasy event at the park. For little ones who haven’t stopped singing those three famous last words since the film was released, this is a must-see! 

Takao Ando Exhibition: a Continuing Challenge: a special exhibition centered around 5 themes or stages in the architectural work of Takao Ando, will be held as part of the celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of the National Art Centre Tokyo from September 27 to December 18, 2017. 

Tourism trends

Japan Branding Campaign

JNTO will launch a new branding campaign in Europe this autumn. The campaign will see their new slogan and promotional videos spread across cinemas, underground platforms, buses and media in the UK and other European countries in order to deepen travellers’ awareness of Japan as a tourism destination.

Luggage-Free Travel to Start at the End of March 2017

JTB has teamed up with a tech and delivery service to bring luggage-free travel to visitors arriving in Japan in 2017. The full service is expected to be launched from March 2017, meaning a much more relaxing travel experience for visitors with heavy luggage.

Cruise Boom Set to Continue

Japan has seen a huge boom in the cruise market in recent years, with many cruise operators dramatically increasing the number of Japan cruises on offer. Princess Cruises will be following suit, increasing their cruise numbers by 27% in 2017 in order to accommodate the huge interest in Japan as a cruise travel destination.

Finnair to Increase Tokyo Flights

Tokyo 2017
Finnair will increase their Tokyo-bound flights in summer 2017, introducing an extra four flights per week. The additional flights will commence on 5 June and finish on October 27, 2017, and will help to seat the influx of tourists heading from Europe to Japan next summer. 

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