After a couple of years of pandemic-induced border closures and restrictions, Japan is finally open to Australian travellers again. If you’re taking this opportunity to book a trip in 2023, these are some things you might want to check out in Japan on your travels, as recommended by the Japan National Tourism Organisation.

Must-do travel experiences in Japan

Ghibli Park

Inspired by Studio Ghibli’s best works, fans can look for soot sprites at Satsuki and Mel’s home from My Neighbour Totoro, or sit next to No Face from Spirited Away.

Ghibli Park opened in November 2022 and is nestled within the Aichi Expo Memorial Park in Aichi Prefecture. Pre-booking is required.

Sapporo Snow Festival

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Japan travel. Image: Sapporo Snow Festival Official Website

The popular Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri) will return to Japan for the first time in three years in 2023. Running from February 4-11, there will be ice sculptures illuminated at night, delicious hot drinks served in ice bars, and adrenaline-boosting snowmobile rides.

Noma Kyoto

Copenhagen’s three-Michelin-star restaurant Noma is heading to Kyoto for a ten-week-long Japan pop-up at the Ace Hotel Kyoto from March 15 to May 20. Helmed by chef-owner René Redzepi, Noma is globally renowned for its modern Scandinavian fare that centres on sustainable, locally sourced ingredients.

You can also peruse Japan’s many other Michelin-star accredited restaurants in this list.

New Luxury Train

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Japan travel. ‘Cockpit Suite’ onboard Spacia X. (Credit Tobu Railway)

A new luxury train (the SPACIA X) will run from Tokyo to Nikko in 2023. Tobu Railway’s Spacia X will feature six seat variations, including the ‘Cockpit Suite’, designed with similar aesthetics to a private jet. It’s scheduled to open on July 15, 2023.

Biwako Biennale

The Biwako Biennale sees both local and foreign artists contribute works in vacant houses and venues to revitalise the area and connect attendees to its charm and culture. The event takes place around Lake Biwa and in Hikone and Omihachiman. It runs between October 8 – November 27.

Shibuya Sky Bar

The Shibuya Sky rooftop observation deck was one of Japan’s hottest new openings in 2019 and will reopen in April 2023.

The open-air observation deck boasts 360-degree views of the city from the jaw-dropping rooftop – Shibuya’s highest – which includes a seasonal outdoor bar, The Roof.

Sumo Tournament

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Japan travel. Image: Japan-Guide

Getting tickets to the Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan has become easier for sumo fans.

Japanese travel agency, JTB, is bringing back its popular sumo viewing tours, which are available daily during the two-week tournament from January 8 to January 22.

Tickets include a professional English-speaking interpreter who will give explanations of rules and sumo terminology.

Tokyo Olympics Tour

Many missed out on visiting the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, but the Japan National Stadium, designed by architect Kengo Kuma, is now open to the public for self-guided tours.

Now that you’re ready to take a trip to Japan next year, don’t forget to pack these travel hacks.


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