Travel Recovers: Japan moves forward

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  • Hospitality/
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by Evelyn Teploff-Mugii, Tomoyuki Iwashita and Marc Cansier
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A State of the Travelling Mind

 

Welcome to the introductory chapter of our report on Hospitality and Travel Trends for 2022. The last few years of enforced immobility had our minds wandering and wondering. As the world is getting back in motion, we thought it was time for us to take stock of the recent events, project ourselves in the future and dream up the next 5 to 10 years ahead.  

 

The journey will take us across countries and continents, from China, Japan, Korea, South East Asia, and Europe. We will reach out to our partners and contributors to help us paint a picture of this rapidly evolving world and explore the new states of the travelling mind. This won’t be merely a report on the travel and hospitality industries but a profound look at new mindsets, emerging social trends, and regional idiosyncrasies driving global changes.

 

Our first steps on this long journey had to start in maybe one of the most fascinating countries of all, Japan. Despite the COVID situation, we have been working in Japan for the last two years. As we are ready to launch our Japan website, we thought what better way to start our insightful journey but ask our partners to share a few quintessentially Japanese delights that make them tick and make us dream. I’m using the term “dream’ very consciously here. Indeed, what worth would be all the insightful knowledge, the strategic masterplanning, the sharpened experience that we pour into each of our projects without our ability to dream a reality waiting to be revealed?  So let Evelyn and Tomo take us on those dreamy paths deep into the heart of Japan. This is just a taste of the things to come as we will release our full first full chapter on Japan in the coming months. Slow travel, regenerative hospitality, meditative journeys will be on the menu…

Cycling the Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa, Japan

 

Quiet trails, breathtaking vistas and hidden sacred spaces. Japan has many, and they are preserved within ancient highways connecting small towns and hamlets formed long ago, before the age of cars and trains. With the increasing desire for ‘slow travel’, Japan is uniquely placed to provide journeys to places which allow the traveler to realign and find a pace with life, both inside and outside of themselves.

It is Japan’s more obscure destinations that are now expanding on the possibilities of bringing travelers by foot, or by cycling, from landmark destinations to treasured places lesser known. One such place is the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture. Beautiful with its rugged coastlines and dramatic rock formations that can be seen from elevations of 200 to 500 meters – a perfect setting for cycling and annual sporting events such as the “Tour de Noto”.

 

Adding to this concept, the reward of taking on a personal quest – a venture, both physical and intellectual, committing to getting to a destination by your own means and power, and in a most breathing setting. 

And with Japan’s outstanding hospitality, it makes the desire to “get there on my own” even more rewarding when in the end, you make it to luxurious Japanese style-inn, greeted by a most warm reception, and recharge with a magnificent meal in your lavishly appointed room complete with a moonlit outdoor bath. 

The reward of taking on a personal quest

Take us back to our origin in mind, body and spiritShonai Region, Yamagata, Japan

 

It is a gift to pass through an unexplored place, feeling the wonder of being distant, summoned by nature, invited into silence. Time with the Yamabushi is a meditation in motion – an experience with a profound effect on your sense of place, and self. Moving through this region, travelers have the time to process the scents, colors, patterns and sounds of nature – a full sensory experience that comes only from allowing oneself to fall into a deep immersive encounter that brings you back to your center. 

 

 

For the Yamabushi, the mountains, nature, and the elements, are inseparable from humans. “Shugendo” which is practiced by the Yamabushi priests believe the mountains are our mother, and the practice of walking through the mountains a “journey of rebirth”.

“We are water, earth, fire, air, and it takes us forward. We leave ourselves in nature and walk, feel the body and our senses. Past, present and future is all in the mountains … We rejuvenate our life through nature, through this practice”.

Japan’s newest wine region, Nishikan Ward, Niigata, Japan 

 

Many, even those from Japan, are only beginning to discover the great ‘New World’ wines being produced in here. Wines that are exceptional, and an excellent accompaniment to their sophisticated gastronomic culture. And true to Japan’s pursuit of mastering imported traditions in their own way – wine producers here, often small, are very ‘hands-on’ constantly experimenting and evolving with what suits each environment best. They observe with intense attention to the character and potential of their remarkable natural assets. 

 

There is one region to pay attention to, surrounded by sea and sand, just at the coastline of the Sea of Japan called the Niigata Wine Coast. The distinctive sandy soil here combined with an environment conducive to winemaking has brought Japan’s ‘new world’ wine fans something to be excited about. 

 

It is one of Japan’s newest wine regions and is home to five unique wineries, of which the first, Cave d’Occi, was established in 1992. It is a place where one can feel the pulse of the current Japanese wine industry, and, it is a place to stay a while, at their Auberge, and even indulge at their onsite spa.

 

But there is much more. Niigata Wine Coast is a destination in itself. The coast is mountainous offering hikes as well as a sublime setting for picnics. There are dunes, dotted by lagoons since ancient times, and, the area has the largest number of swans in Japan that fly from Siberia creating a most stunning sight. It is a sanctuary of nature, and it is this rich and diverse environment that allows these wineries to thrive offering a succession of wines with amazing variety setting where nature flourishes and truly regenerates life. 

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We hope you have enjoyed this sneak introduction to our upcoming report on Japan. Stay tuned for more!

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