Japan Abbie Fawcett - 15595023


Japan is a country rich with culture, idyllic scenery and bustling cities (Visit Japan, 2016). It is also one of the most forward thinking countries when it comes to technology. The way that Japan operates in terms of its tourism can be seen to be very unique; from the bullet train to get visitors around the country to the way that domestic visitors have shaped the industry there. The tourism industry in Japan began with an influx of popularity from business travellers (Boniface et al, 2012). This would of lead to the development of the countries tourism infrastructures such as transport, hotels and restaurants which would initiate investment made into the industry. Japan has the opportunity to be very influential in the tourism industry not only does the region it’s within have 60% of the world population but Japan alone is the 10th largest population in the world and is one of the most successful economies (Hall et al, 2008). Therefore what occurs here can have huge repercussions for tourism worldwide.

When considering how tourism operates in Japan it is important to consider the concept of ‘mobilities’. The concept coined by Professor John Urry considers how the world is becoming more and more connected not just physically but also digitally. Urry refers to the world as one big department store, in that almost all of us have access to whatever we want whenever we want as everything is on the move including; people, equipment, material, data and news. (Urry, 2014).

The experience economy is another major concept that is changing the tourism industry. This is conceptualised by the way that businesses transform their products and/or services into a more personal experience for consumers. These businesses are adding value to what it is they are offering as they are giving consumers much more than just what they purchase (Gilmore and Pine, 1999).


Aim 1: To give a wealth of knowledge on Japan in order to understand how it's tourism and events industry operates.

Aim 2: To identify what resources Japan as a country has to attract tourists to visit.

Aim 3: To analyse how appropriate Japan is as a host country for an event.

Evaluation of Travel Flows

Most visitors to Japan are from the Asia region. In August 2016 the total number of visitors from Asia was 1,776,659 compared to 126,118 visitors arriving from Europe which had the second highest amount of visitors to the country (See Japan, 2016). This shows how much Japan relies on intraregional tourism in order to keep the industry alive with investment, if ever this market was to decline it would cause many repercussions for Japan. As well as this Japan also generates a lot of visitors who visit other countries in East Asia (JTB, 2016). China, Korea and Taiwan are the biggest providers of visitors to Japan. However their patterns of travel to Japan are very different, as seen in January 2016 overall there were more Korean visitors including visitors for tourism and business purposes, however for other purposes of visiting which may include visiting friends and relatives China had the higher amount, however in August 2016 China had the highest amount of visitors all-round (See Japan, 2016).

Figure 1.International Tourist arrivals and receipts in North-East Asia. Source: (UNWTO, 2016)

The most important part of this table for Japan is the rapid increase of tourists the country received from 2010 to 2015. This was also the biggest change in the amount of tourist arrivals than any other country in North-East Asia, this suggest Japan has become the most fashionable country to visit in the region.

Figure 2. Number of outbound tourists from Japan by month. Source: JTB, 2016.

This graph clearly shows that August is the most popular month for outbound tourists to travel this is most likely due to warmer temperatures and school holidays. An interesting thing about this is that in 2012 overall there was more outbound tourists was this perhaps because domestic tourism became more popular in later years?

Domestic Travel Trends

Domestic travel is very important to countries in East Asia including Japan as it shapes what destinations are popular to visit (Boniface et al, 2016).
Figure 3: Comparison of domestic and overseas visitors. Source: JTBCorp, 2015.

In Figure 3 we can observe the dramatic difference in visitor numbers between Japan’s domestic and overseas tourists, in 2014 there were 284.5 million domestic tourists compared to 16.9 million overseas tourists. The table also shows on average the overseas tourists actually spent nearly 10 times as much as the domestic travellers. Thus giving itself to speculations as to the reason for this, one could be that a lot of the domestic travellers are visiting or staying with friends/relatives so therefore spending less as they don’t need to pay for accommodation or food. Alternatively it could tell us that when travelling domestic tourists go to destinations with less costs involved.

Japan is a very homogenous country with 98.4% of the population being Japanese (Hall et al, 2008), because of this there is a fascination with other cultures so much so that attractions have been purpose built with other cultures as their influence. The rising middle class has encouraged this growth which meant a shift in change from the popularity of religious and mountainous destinations to more beach destinations and theme parks thus mimicking western culture that these tourists crave. However religious and cultural destinations in the country are still popular places to visit with Japanese families (Boniface et al, 2016).

Evaluation of Transport

In Japan the increased number of visitors was reflected in the rapid growth of air traffic and consequently the amount of airline providers (Boniface, 2016). Japan has 4 large international airports 2 of which are in Tokyo; all together these are able to cater for countries international tourist arrivals. The country also has 86 other airports to serve domestic flights; this allows tourists to get around Japan including its more remote locations quickly and easily (JNTO, 2016).

Japan have a public transport system which is “the most efficient in the world,” 87% of trains there are on time and being late counts as later than 1 minute. Japan is also world famous for its bullet train which can go at speeds of up to 200 miles an hour (Top Gear, 2008). Getting on a train in Japan is not just a means of getting passengers from A to B, each train gives you a whole experience to enjoy from incredible scenery to live music (JNTO, 2016).

Destination Resources and Key Events

The slogan “Where tradition meets the future” coined by JNTO (2016) is the perfect way to describe what Japan has to offer. Japan have excelled in keeping traditional cultures alive meanwhile still moving at a fast pace and being one of the most trend setting cities (See Japan, 2016). Also in the midst of this contrast is it impressively untouched and outstanding scenery (Lonely Planet, 2016).

The culture in Japan is unlike that seen in other countries, although having been influenced by other countries (mainly China (Hall et al, 2008)); they’ve ensured that their culture is unique (Lonely Planet, 2016). When tourists visit Japan they are interested in seeing traditional culture such as Sumo Wrestling, Geishas, Handicrafts and the Japanese cuisine (Boniface et al, 2016). As well as indulging in the more modern parts of their culture that boast new trends in technology and pop-culture (See Japan, 2016).

Japan has 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites including cultural attractions such as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Natural Attractions such as the Ogasawara Islands (UNESCO, 2016). The country also has 28 National Parks which tourists can visit but also where rural communities live and thrive (Boniface et al, 2016). Thus making sure their most precious places are protected and preserved for the future. Ultimately these attractions will be able to continue attracting tourists for many more years.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

Constant instability geologically in Japan is something that detracts but also attracts tourists to visit. The majority of tourists would be deterred by the idea that the country is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes; however these natural disasters are what shaped the most beautiful natural attractions the country has to offer such as the hot springs and more famously Mount Fuji(Boniface et al, 2016).

Japan hosts many traditional and cultural events all around the country including; the Sapporo Snow Festival held in Hokkaido and Takigi O-Noh which is a traditional bonfire performance held in Kyoto. The events/festivals held come in all shapes and sizes some just a few hundred people get involved and others a few thousand, some in major cities like Kyoto or some in more remote areas such as Hokkaido. Many of the events revolve around the displaying of talented crafts or sports (JNTO, 2016).

Case Study- Japan 2020 Olympics

Japan won their bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in 2013 and have since been preparing for the mega event. They want the Olympics to affect the country by getting more tourists to visit, a way they have begun trying to achieve this is by setting up relations with Visit Britain. The two tourist boards working together means they can share tourism information in order to help the industry grow, as well as increasing the publicity and overall image of the country. JNTO wants to encourage U.K. Visitors to travel to less well known destinations in the country (See Japan, 2014).

During the lead up to the 2020 Olympics the committee have been organising smaller events to encourage the involvement of local people and local organisations. One of these events was the Cultural Olympiad kick-off party which involved a formal presentation followed by lots of cultural performances (Tokyo 2020, 2016). In doing these events it provokes excitement for the games and creates a buzz around what is to come.

It is forecast that Japan will continue to grow in the amount of inbound tourists in the lead up to the games. However as the amount of visitors will rise to a much higher figure than Japan has experienced before it is likely that the country won’t be able to accommodate the amount of tourists unless they build more hotels or rejuvenate and add more rooms to current accommodation providers. It is predicted that Japan may have to invest 593.8 billion Yen into the hotel sector in order to do this (PR Newswire, 2016). Overall the Olympics will provide Japan with a lot of opportunity for change and improvement in tourism and events.

Overall Evaluation and Analysis


Japan has a wide variation of resources to offer. Within their cultural resources alone there is so much variety from shrines and temples to Manga and Anime (Boniface et al, 2016). The scenery in Japan is another strength that is used to promote the country; photographs of the beautiful landscape are used on tourism board websites and tour guide websites (JNTO and Lonely Planet, 2016). Japan has continued to enjoy political stability for a long time and this is something which is unlikely to change anytime soon (Boniface et al, 2016). The transport links around the country are very well developed and will continue to develop if the amount of visitors to the country does continue to grow.


Japan relies heavily on domestic tourism. Although we can see domestic tourism in Japan does bring with it some positives to the tourism industry such as the push for development of new destinations. If something were to happen such as an economic crisis it could mean less people in the country would be able to travel, therefore where businesses relied mostly on these visitors they would likely have to shut down. Overall it would lead to a decline in investment and growth of the tourism industry. One of the main problems Japan has suffered with is the over population in its large cities and consequently the increased pollution thereafter, this is something that is so developed it would be hard to fix (Boniface et al, 2016).


The biggest opportunity for Japan’s tourism is in the 2020 Summer Olympics, this event has the potential to rapidly change the tourism industry there and leave a lasting legacy for the country. All of Japans tourism organisations should see this potential and make the most out of the increased publicity and interest Japan will receive. Innovative technology is something we know Japan to be a leader of. As technology advances its uses in the tourism industry may become apparent and if Japan could capture this before anyone else it would set them apart in the industry.


The biggest continual threat to Japan is natural disasters. New technologies in the future might mean that Japan is more prepared for them. If tourists feel safe in the idea that they will be alright if a natural disaster occurs in Japan they are more likely to visit than those who don’t. Japan have an aging population meaning that many people in Japan don’t work so then aren’t bringing money into the country’s economy this has the potential to make the economy there unstable how they are thinking of intuitive ways in order to prevent this become a weakness to the economy, one of those ways being the introduction of Robots (Boniface et al, 2016).

Recommendations for the Client

Japan has all the resources and more to be able to cater for a large scale cultural event and has the ability to encourage visitors to explore the country as there is so much to see and do. It is bound to attract domestic tourists especially if there is some connection with western cultures and as more and more international tourists are interested in the country an event would just increase that. However some aspects of Japan may make potential tourists feel nervous such as the natural disasters and the knowledge of pollution in major cities. In order to combat this challenge the event could be held in a more rural area of Japan, as it is so well connected with transport it would be easy for visitors to get to almost anywhere in the country. Placing the event somewhere remote could also encourage visitors to explore some of the more untouched areas of Japan.


Japan has a very interesting tourism and events industry which has so much potential for growth due to the amount of natural and cultural resources as well as its well-established tourism infrastructure. Popularity of the country is increasing and if marketed well with using all of its opportunities, will continue to grow and attract tourists form different markets. Currently Japan is the place to watch in terms of how it will change and develop in the lead up to, during and after the 2020 Olympics.


Boniface, B., Cooper, C. and Cooper, R. (2012) Worldwide Destination; the geography of travel and tourism [ebook], 6th Edition. Abingdon: Routledge. Available from https://www-dawsonera-com.proxy.library.lincoln.ac.uk/readonline/9780080970417 [Accessed 25 October 2016].

Hall, M.C., Lew, A. and Timothy, D. (2008) World Geography of Travel and Tourism: A regional Approach [ebook]. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann. Available from http://lib.myilibrary.com.proxy.library.lincoln.ac.uk/Open.aspx?id=177198 [Accessed 25 october 2016].

Gilmore, J.H. and Pine, B.J (1999) The Experience Economy: Work is theatre & every business is a stage. Harvard Business Press.

Japan Magazine (2011) Enjoying the world of Japanese Railway. Accessed from: http://japan-magazine.jnto.go.jp/en/trivia_201103_trends.html [Accessed 7 December].

John Urry (2014) What is the mobility turn? [video]. Accessed from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G22hDmpfELk [Accessed 10 October 2016].

JNTO (2016) Domestic Air Travel. Accesssed from: https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/transportation/domestic-air-flight/domestic-air-flight.html [Accessed 7 December]

JNTO (2016) Festivals and Events. Accessed from: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/festivals/ [Accessed 10 Deccember].

JTB Tourism Research and Consulting Co. (2016) Japanese Outbound Tourist Statistics. Avaliable from: http://www.tourism.jp/en/tourism-database/stats/outbound/ [Accessed 15 December]

JTB Corp, corporate communication division (2015) Prospective Travel Trends 2016. Available from: http://www.jtbcorp.jp/en/press_release/pdf/release20151216.pdf [Accessed 15 December]

Lonely Planet (2016) Introducing Japan. Available from: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/japan/introduction [Accessed 5 December]

PR Newswire (2016) Travel and Tourism to Japan to 2020. Accessed from: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/travel-and-tourism-in-japan-to-2020-300229998.html [Accessed 16 December]

See Japan (2014) Japan works with VisitBritain to Double Visitors by Tokyo 2020 Olympics Year. Available from: http://www.seejapan.co.uk/jnto_consumer/media/press-releases/press-release-detail/14-10-03/japan-works-with-visitbritain-to-double-visitors-by-tokyo-2020-olympics-year [Accessed 6 November]

See Japan (2016) Cool Japan. Available from: http://www.seejapan.co.uk/jnto_consumer/experience/cool [Accessed 30 November].

See Japan (2016) Visitors to Japan by Country/Area and purpose of visit for August 2016. Available from:http://www.seejapan.co.uk/Libraries/User_Guides/Visitors_to_Japan_by_Country_and_Purpose_of_Visit_August_2016.sflb.ashx [Accessed 5 November]

See Japan (2016) Visitors to Japan by country/Area and purpose of visit for January 2016. Available from:http://www.seejapan.co.uk/Libraries/PDFs/Visitors_to_the_country_by_purpose_of_visit_January_2016.sflb.ashx [Accessed 5 November]

Tokyo 2020 (2016) Tokyo 2020 Cultural Olympiad Kick-Off Event. Available from: https://tokyo2020.jp/en/news/event/20161011-01.html [Accessed 21 November]

UNESCO (2016) World Heritage List. Available from: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/&order=country#alphaJ [Accessed 25 October]

UNWTO (2016) Tourism Highlights; 2016 edition. Available from http://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284418145 [Accessed 21 October].

Visit Japan (2016) Japan – Where tradition meets the future [video]. Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLIv7HnZ_fE [Accessed 10 November 2016].


Created with images by Moyan_Brenn - "Japan" • shell_ghostcage - "japan landscape natural" • Purota - "tokyo japan building" • skyseeker - "Asagaya Star Festival 2006" • mafutto - "japan kyoto shimogamo shrine" • markehr - "Bullet Train, Karuizawa Station" • Ikusuki - "Hiroshima Peace Memorial"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.