With so much to see and do in Japan, it can be hard to narrow it down to a short, manageable list of things to do in a limited amount of time. Japan travel prices are here to help you. Launching this year alone, the awards aim to recognize outstanding attractions across Japan that promote tourism through diversity, inclusion, sustainability and hospitality.
For its inaugural edition, the awards recognized eight winners in seven categories; there are also six special recognition awards and a Grand Prize winner. The winners were chosen by a panel of judges made up of travel writers, marketing professionals and entrepreneurs.
While Japan has no immediate intention of reopen to tourism – unfortunately – you can still add these award-winning destinations and experiences to your travel wishlist.
Most accessible: Fukushima Barrier-Free Visitor Center
This inclusive VISITOR CENTER in Fukushima offers multilingual assistance and services to travelers with disabilities. The center also offers consulting services to local businesses and tour operators to help them find solutions and improve their accessibility.
Best Hospitality: Fufu Kawaguchiko
Surrounded by lush vegetation, this photogenic resort in Yamanashi Prefecture offers breathtaking views of Mount Fuji as well as unparalleled service. Guests often feel safe and welcome during their stay as the resort boasts a relaxing environment with great accessibility and a team of LGBTQ+ friendly staff.
Best Sustainability: Hotel Why, and Nishi-Awa, Mt Tsurugi, and Yoshino River Tourist Area
This category has two winners. The first winner is Hotel Why in Kamikatsu, Japan’s world-renowned Zero Waste City. The sustainable hotel is constructed from local cedar and furnished with scrapped but restored furniture, doors, and windows. You can also visit the nearby recycling center to find out how the city is integrating recycling into everyday life.
The second winner is Mount Tsurugi and the Yoshino River Tourist Area in Tokushima Prefecture. This region is known for its preserved environment where nature and people live together in harmony. One of the highlights here is Earthship Mima, a sustainable guesthouse built with recycled materials and running on its own water and electricity.
Best Family: Happy Raft
happy raft in Kochi Prefecture offers thrilling adventures including rafting, canyoning and other world-class tours in English and Japanese. Unlike many outdoor sports operators in Japan, Happy Raft welcomes families with children as young as three years old. Well-trained staff are there to keep the little ones safe, and overnight stays can also be arranged.
LGBTQ+ Best Friend: W Osaka
The W brand of hotels is cool and funky, and they’re known for celebrating diversity and inclusivity. New W Osaka, opened last year, is no different. Since its opening, the hotel has hosted several significant events such as Queer Me Out and What She Said, which have highlighted important social issues such as women’s empowerment and diversity.
Best Luxury Stay and Service: Hoshinoya Okinawa
This superb resort in the coastal village of Yomitan is the epitome of Japanese luxury. You will have everything at your disposal: rooms facing the ocean, a magnificent infinity pool that can be used all year round and various activities including horseback riding along the beach.
Best Luxury Experience: Private Performance by Iwami Kagura
This traditional Shinto dance has existed since ancient times as a blessing ritual to invite good harvest and health. These days, performances are limited, but you can still catch performances in Shimane Prefecture, where more than 150 active Kagura groups carry on this tradition.
Special Recognition Awards and Grand Prize Winner
Special Recognition Awards were also given to six other outstanding destinations and services in Japan. Take a look at the full list of Japan Travel Awards winners website.
This year’s Grand Prize is awarded to Fukushima Barrier-Free Visitor Center for its outstanding service as well as its progressive approach to promoting diversity and inclusion.
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