japan tourist routesThe number of foreign tourists to Japan continues to rise every passing year, but most of them are sticking to the so-called “Golden Route,” that links  the big cities such as Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka, the Japan Tourism Agency says.

The Golden Route refers to a five- or six-day tour of Japan, and it has long been the most popular travel option for first-time visitors arriving at Narita airport; tourists first go to Tokyo, then Hakone, Kyoto and Nara, before flying out from Osaka.

In an effort to encourage tourism in other less familiar geographical regions in the country,  the agency is working with prefectural governments to promote seven new sightseeing routes that extend from Hokkaido all the way down to Kyushu—each highlighting a specific theme.

The seven new routes are listed below.

  • Eeastern Hokkaido’s Kushiro Marshland and Shiretoko Peninsula
  • Akita and Aomori prefectures and the Aizu area in Fukushima Prefecture
  • Ise-Shima in Mie Prefecture and parts of Gifu and Ishikawa prefectures
  • the Kinki region’s World Heritage Sites
  • Tokushima and the Setonouchi Inland Sea region
  • Kochi and Ehime prefectures in Shikoku
  • Kumamoto and Fukuoka prefectures in Kyushu. 

Some of the initiatives include advertising luxury cruises along the Seto Inland Sea route to foreigners, as well as providing free transportation passes to famous areas along the Kyushu route where there is an abundance of hot springs.

Tourism minister Akihiro Ota told a news conference that the tourism agency will provide financial assistance for ad campaigns in the various areas along the routes, as well as multilingual signs and free public wireless LAN (local area networks) service, Sankei reported Saturday.

According to figures released by the Japan National Tourism Organization, the number of foreign tourists to Japan between January and April totaled 5.9 million. By country, the greatest number came from China—404,000, which was a 110% increase over 2014, followed by Taiwan (up 29.9% to 335,100). Visitors from Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong and the United States also increased. The total number of tourists from Muslim majority countries also increased during the same time period.

So far, Tokyo and Osaka have been the top destinations for foreign tourists. However, recently, other leseer known cities such as Hokkaido have also attracted large number of tourists from all over the world.  It is to be noted that, shorter one-stop trips are also becoming popular among business travellers, visitors from neighbouring countries such as South Korea, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong.  Tourists from these destinations fly directly to regional airports like Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Okinawa, Fukuoka, Yamagata and Akita prefectuires.

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