Ask a thousand people which countries feature on their bucket list, and most will make mention to Japan. After-all, it’s a melting pot of cherry blossoms, ancient traditions, and beautiful people with deep cultural roots!
There’s also the Insta-worthy food!
Japan is a patchwork of intense urban life mixed with traditional sites; exciting modern architecture sits next to a diverse legacy of beautiful castles and temples from ancient times. Though there are also tropical islands and snowy mountains for skiing in addition to its face paced cosmopolitan cities.
Japan is a country that many say they would love to visit; ‘it’ll happen someday soon‘. But with 2020 fast approaching, and an epic year ahead for the country, it’s time to commit to making it happen!
Here’s why Japan is a must visit destination in 2020.
Why Japan Was (Supposed to be) a Must-Visit Destination in 2020
The Tokyo Summer Olympics
Tokyo is gearing up for the 2020 Summer Olympics, happening from Friday 24 July – Sunday 9 August. Attending the Olympics is another one of those once-in-a-lifetime bucketlist goals, so it’s the perfect opportunity to tick off both Japan and the Olympics in one go!
birds bucketlist items with one stone!
There’s no doubt that these games will go down in history, and Japan will be going all out to show the world the best of their rich history and traditions, cutting edge innovation, culture of hospitality, and of course, their love for sport.
All Japanese citizens, including Olympic and Paralympic volunteers, will employ their utmost resourcefulness as hosts to welcome visitors from around the world with the best Japanese omotenashi (hospitality).
Remember when booking tickets that the games aren’t just about the sporting events – if you manage to get a ticket to the opening and closing ceremonies, it’s bound to be a spectacular show, though also make an effort to catch the Torch Relay.
And it’s important to book everything early as this will be a highly sought after event – everything from Tokyo hotels, to restaurant bookings, and of course, actual tickets to the Olympic events.
The concept for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay will be “Hope Lights Our Way”. The Relay will travel to all 47 prefectures in Japan, traversing the length and breadth of the country over 121 days, showcasing the varied cultural and scenic attractions of each region.
Changes are Happening
Every country goes through evolutionary changes, but Japan is unique in that it clearly displays the stark contrast between past and present. You can spend a day moving from ancient temples and thousand-year-old forests, before hitting up lively nightclubs and gaping in awe at technological marvels.
Of the many changes happening in 2020, travelling to Japan will suddenly become a lot easier for those who require a tourist visa; for those who aren’t already exempt, the government has decided to introduce a new Japan e-visa.
As opposed to having to physically go into an embassy or consulate, it will be possible to obtain a single-entry visa by filling out an online application. It’s likely that this has been implemented because of the upcoming games.
Another change about to hit the country is the attitude towards gambling. Until late 2016, gambling in most forms was illegal in Japan, and there were no casinos. Now, however there are plans to build several casino resorts, with plenty of Japanese casino games online too.
Hidden Gems Are Becoming Less Hidden
One of the biggest reasons to visit Japan in 2020 is because the country’s hidden gems are becoming more and more popular – word is getting out, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be able to avoid the crowds.
Stunning places like the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto, are starting to show up on Instagram feeds with fervor, and even typically off peak seasons are growing in popularity.
For instance, everyone travels to Japan to see the cherry blossoms (Hanami occurs between March and mid April) though a strong argument could be made that Autumn is the most beautiful time of year! Fall foliage around the country is just as beautiful as the cherry blossoms, but without the same intense crowds.
With Japan becoming more and more of a year round destination, it’s best to travel now, and experience it’s magic before everyone else seeks these hidden gems out!
Natural Disasters Are Damaging History
Perhaps one of the most pressing reasons to prioritize your Japan travel, is that there’s no guarentee that the attractions you want to visit will always be there.
Japan is situated along the world’s most active earthquake belt, the Pacific Ring of Fire, and it’s the most earthquake prone country in the world. Ancient Japanese shrines are commonly damaged in these natural disasters, some which completely collapse during tremors.
A devastating cultural loss was the 2016 collapse of the towering entrance gate and worshipping hall of Aso Shrine in Kyushu, southern Japan. One of the oldest shrines in Japan it had been a place of worship for 1,700 years, and was a very famous attraction. The walls of Kumamoto castle also crumbled.
Don’t take this the wrong way – despite having around 1500 earthquakes a year, Japan is a very safe country to visit.
For a start, most earthquakes are very minor, and locals are used to small tremors. But being that the connection between Japan and earthquakes is so old, the country has adapted quite well.
Japan is now one of the most earthquake-ready societies in the world, with the best emergency response. And the Japanese building code has been specifically adapted for seismic forces.
While most modern buildings will pull through without issue, buildings that went up prior to 1924 weren’t built with the same rigorous standards, and that makes the historic attractions that are so famous, most vulnerable.