Japan National Tourism Organization promotes northern Japan tourism

The US-Japan relationship enters a new era with more people traveling between the two countries

As Japan continues to attract more international visitors than ever, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is introducing more varieties of regions and attractions. Northern Japan has been known for unique and great winter sport destinations, but new attention has been raised by the new extension of the Bullet Train service that starts on March 26, 2016 to Hakodate, the southern gateway to Hokkaido. JNTO’s event highlighted these destinations, and added more unknown regional facts about the local agricultural and fishing industries, which significantly support the intricate Japanese culinary scenes and traditions.

The new service connects Tokyo to Hakodate, the southern tip gateway to Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, in just over 4 hours. The line runs on pre-existing track through the northern part of the Tohoku region , and it is already planned to extend all the way to Sapporo by 2030.

JNTO has been promoting the regions along the Bullet Train route, which offer usual tourist attractions of Japan: food, history, nature, and festivals. Their local characteristics are based on the harsh snowy winter and rural agricultural village lifestyle; for example, summer festivals are particularly energetic and dramatic to celebrate their short periods of warm weather. The region’s fertile land is the breadbasket of Japan, including top quality rice, dairy farm, meat, and all related products, including liquor. Ubiquitous natural hot springs are rather low key and hidden in deep mountains, yet they contain fabulous relaxing experiences in hot water nestled in thick forests.

Moreover, the train route traces the typical cherry blossom frontline in spring, which starts from the southwest of Japan and climbs up the country throughout the cherry blossom season. If missing out on the blossoms in more popular places such as Tokyo and Kyoto, northern Tohoku is a totally secluded hidden gem for fabulous cherry blossom viewing throughout the beginning of May.

Hokkaido has been a known name in recent years for winter sports and nature activities. Niseko town has become a new mecca for hardcore skiers and snowboarders who look for the best powder snow and one-of-a-kind cultural après-ski experiences. But Hokkaido was Japan’s last frontier, and it is worth noting that the geography there is completely different from the typical mountainous and densely populated urban Japan. Wide open flat land spreads out to the horizon, mostly covered in farm lands, and the farm-to-table concept is nothing new to Hokkaido. In spring and summer, the open fields turn to flower beds with many vibrant colors. In winter, the snow-covered fields are a winter wonderland for snow sports lovers such as ice fishing, dog sledding, snow shoeing and more.

In addition, Hokkaido is the home of Sapporo Beer, the most notable Japanese beer in the US market, ramen noodles that have widely spread across the world, and Nikka Whisky, an 80-year-old distillery who won multiple international awards for their products, produced in the town of Yoichi. The island has a long coastline to the wild northern Okhotsk Sea, facing Siberia, which is a rich fishing area for wide varieties of fish and ocean products such as kombu seaweed, a crucial ingredient for dashi , or Japanese soup stock. The ocean often freezes in the brutal winter weather, yet it shows very unique floating ice all over the surface in January.

JNTO is expecting to see more international visitors to these destinations, particularly once the train service starts all the way to Hokkaido. JNTO also expects an increase of attention to Japan’s high speed train service network, which opens up tourism to more varieties of destinations from north to south.