The Saitama Criterium is the world's first cycling event to be named after the world's most prestigious cycling road race, the Tour de France.
Every year, world-class athletes including the Tour de France winners of that year gather to compete on the special Criterium course around the Saitama-Shintoshin area. The primary appeal of this event is the thrill of being able to experience the value, message, and appeal of the Tour de France at a location in Japan.
In addition to seats for watching the Saitama Criterium, the premium spectator tour special is available in four categories (Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze), with privileges such as watching a pre-race course test run, interacting with athletes, and sightseeing in the city.
The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum in Saitama, the only public bonsai museum in Japan, will be open for the first time for night illuminations, giving visitors a fantastic opportunity to experience the enchanting world of bonsai.
Take this opportunity to visit Saitama City!
Global content on remote islands: the Earth Celebration Festival, and the Gold and Silver Mines of Sado Island, for which World Heritage registration is sought
This year marks the 36th annual Earth Celebration. Alongside this headline event, various other projects will be held this year! During Earth Celebration from August 18 to 20, a camp site and outdoor field will be set up at Shiroyama Park, which is considered a sacred site. Workshops on Japanese taiko drumming, traditional Sado Ondeko drumming, South African Zulu dance, and more will be held all around the Ogi area. The week following the Earth Celebration will see an e-bike cycling tour as well as a jazz festival. There will also be art tours on the themes of food, folklore, crafts, Japanese sake, and nature. Visitors can use an app to follow along the "Gold Road," a former highway that carried gold and silver from Sado Island to Edo, or join a training camp for Japanese drumming and Sado performing arts. Discover something different each time you come to Sado. The island is packed with experiences you’ll never tire of.
Kamuiwakka Hot Spring Falls opens to the public again after eighteen years (Kamuiwakka Hot Spring Waterfall Trekking)
Kamuiwakka Falls is an unexplored region within an unexplored region. Under new rules, all four waterfalls are entirely open to the public for the first time in eighteen years. This has given birth to a new adventure activity: Kamuiwakka Hot Spring Falls Trekking.
The temperature of the river rises as you trek up alongside the mysterious Kamuiwakka Hot Spring Falls, and it reaches approximately 35 to 38°C at the final destination of the fourth waterfall.
Splashing through the water, trekkers cross a number of smaller waterfalls toward the upper reaches of the Kamuiwakka River. This is an exhilarating riverside walk in virgin forest surroundings. Watch in surprise as hot spring waters bubble up. Feel a sense of accomplishment as you trek up waterfalls of various sizes. This valuable adventure activity gives you a glimpse of the true power of the earth.
The world's first nighttime entertainment held in a national park
Lake Akan Forest Night Walk: Kamuy Lumina is a mystical adventure tour to the world of the kamuy (divine beings), based on an ancient Akan Ainu yukar (epic tale), "The Owl and the Jay."
The setting is Lake Akan in Akan-Mashu National Park, Hokkaido. Follow the 1.2-kilometer Bokke Nature Trail from the lakeside forest, where a dreamlike experience will begin at dusk as you are immersed in Ainu culture.
Visitors are invited to experience the Ainu worldview, which treasures harmony with nature, as it is recreated in the natural forests of this national park using state-of-the-art digital techniques, including “Rhythm sticks” used by each participant, projection mapping, scenography (staged lighting and sound), and more.
A multilingual mobile phone application has also been developed so that visitors from around the world can more deeply experience and learn about Ainu culture. There are also special programs to book private use of facilities and wear original Ainu-patterned clothing, as certified by the Akan Ainu Consulun so as to express unity with the Ainu people.
Kamuy Lumina is part of the Lumina series of night walks developed around the world by Moment Factory, a cutting-edge multimedia entertainment company based in Montreal, Canada. Lake Akan is the only such event in the world set in a national park.
The six national theaters overseen by the Japan Arts Council, Japan’s only national training organization, have long been active in training performers in noh theater, bunraku puppet theater, kabuki, kumiodori dance, engei variety entertainment, opera, ballet, and theatrical performance.
Young people who have completed the training programs and are active as professional performers in their respective disciplines will now come together for a groundbreaking performance on the stage of the National Theatre in the Hanzomon area of Tokyo. United by the common theme of "festivals" unfurling into the future, the essence of each genre will be expressed succinctly. This project is unique to the Japan Arts Council, which conducts training programs for diverse performing arts at its six affiliated national theaters.
In addition, after the performance, four workshops will be held on traditional Japanese performing arts that are included on UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: noh theater, bunraku puppet theater, kabuki, and kumiodori dance. Performers from each genre will serve as guides to these special programs, enabling visitors to truly enjoy and experience the unique aspects of each performing art.
From traditional Japanese performing arts to opera, ballet, and theater, this is a precious opportunity to experience the contemporary aspects of Japanese performing arts.
"A walkable gem."
The New York Times listed Morioka City, in Iwate Prefecture, second only to London in its "52 Places to Go in 2023" article.
Morioka, and all of Iwate Prefecture, is truly a gem, full of culture, food, and historical buildings that are a joy to discover.
Morioka holds special events such as a jazz café in a historical building designated National Important Cultural Property, where dining is not usually permitted. There is also a premium sake brewery tour where visitors can observe the refined techniques of Nanbu brewing masters and sample sake intended for competition, which is not commercially available. A specially designed event, the Morioka Premium Town Walk, takes strolling around the city to another level of fun.
In addition, a premium buffet only available on certain days and venues will be held at the Morioka Castle in Morioka and at three World Heritage sites (Hiraizumi, Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site, and Goshono Jomon Site). Visitors will have the opportunity to savor the food and local sake of Iwate to their heart's content while watching special stagings of traditional local performing arts which are passed down from generation to generation.
There’s also "wanko soba," a traditional specialty of Iwate Prefecture. A waiter fills bowls, one after the other, with bite-sized portions of soba noodles, and the bowls are stacked to show how much soba you have eaten. This year, the world's first ever International Wanko Soba Championship will be held, and it awaits visitors ready to take up the challenge.
Such special experiences in Morioka and nearby World Heritage Sites are sure to shine in your heart forever.
◆ Content has been developed and provided for visitors from Asia to experience the rice terraces and ponds where koi originated and continue to inhabit.
(1) Digital Content:
・ The entire former village of Yamakoshi is demarcated as the Nishikigoi Heritage Museum. A fee-based tour passport that enables reservations and payment for destinations within the target area, a booklet that provides historical and cultural explanations on maps, and an audio guide on the smartphone-based website will be produced.
(2) Green Season Options:
・ An event held at a tourist-oriented pond not open to the public allowing visitors to hold a koi (June to October).
・ A log house, BBQ, and sauna under the starry sky is packaged for one group per day
・ A tour of Yamakoshi’s instagrammable heritage spots and Japan's first agricultural heritage site
・ Experience the wisdom found through life in the mountains! A tour of "Nakayama Tunnel”, Japan's longest hand-dug tunnel (a certified Civil Engineering Heritage Site)
(3) Snow Season Options:
・Private ski slopes: A special reservation of the Koshi Kogen ski area for inbound tours from areas unfamiliar with snow and corporate training trips!
Enjoy snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and sledding
・ A private ski slope and a fully-reserved restaurant that hosts an event pairing Niigata/Yamakoshi food and sake
Creating Tourism Products with a High Added Value that Utilizes the Historical Value of Kotohira-gu Shrine
Enjoy a moment of serenity and travel alongside Shinto priests through the lush, mountainous grounds of historic Kotohira-gu Shrine in this brand-new guided tour.
Kotohira-gu Shrine is located on Mt. Zozu-san, near the Seto Inland Sea, and worships the gods of the sea. It is the main shrine of its sect. Its grounds are abundant in nature, contain many historic buildings, and have traditionally been the site of sacred rituals. As a result, the shrine was not open to public tours. That is, until now. Having received permission from the Chief Priest, this unique tour will provide you with exclusive access to the traditional grounds of Kotohira-gu Shrine. Within this relaxed atmosphere, you can take part in Shinto prayers, experience the ritual dance Kagura, view Japanese art in buildings closed to the general public, and enjoy a meal with locally grown food. As a private tour, you will also get a chance to speak with Shinto priests and shrine maidens, as well as enjoy a performance of traditional Japanese music with Ryuteki, a type of bamboo flute, and Sho, a type of reed instrument. Take advantage of this rare experience to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and experience the peaceful atmosphere and traditional culture of Kotohira-gu Shrine. Since ancient times, mariners in the Seto Inland Sea have visited the shrine to pray for safety at sea. People involved in shipbuilding companies, shipping companies, yachts and boats, continue to visit the shrine today. The walls of this private, traditional-style study contain paintings by the genius painter Ito Jakuchu, who lived from 1716 to 1800. While usually closed to the public for preservation, they can be viewed on this tour.
In addition to the Atomic Bomb Dome and Itsukushima Shrine, both World Heritage Sites, this tour also explores the mountains, rivers, sea, and city over five days and four nights, providing an authentic taste of Hiroshima through various activities and local encounters.
Originally, there was little flat land in Hiroshima, making the area unsuitable for agriculture. Instead, people created their own industry through the tatara method of ironmaking. They expanded the size of land through reclamation and used marine transportation to further develop the ironmaking industry. In other words, they built their own city through their own efforts. It was through this passion that the city of Hiroshima was created.
The city was destroyed by the atomic bomb and the devastating fires which spread in the bomb's aftermath. However, the passion of Hiroshima's residents, inherited from the city's forebearers, and a strong desire for peace enabled the city to quickly recover. Today, a new generation has taken on these ideals and actively confronts any challenges in order to create a new Hiroshima.
Participants can experience the history of Hiroshima alongside fellow tour members, as well as through activities such as cycling, climbing rivers and waterfalls, sea kayaking, and mountain climbing. In addition, dialogue around the lingering embers of the atomic bomb will ignite participants' spirits and open their eyes to their own lives and the world around them.
Tour of Kyushu’s Three Main Cities of Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Kagoshima ((1) Local gourmet tour, (2) Historical and traditional experience tour, and (3) Cycling tour)
(1) In Kagoshima, have a hands-on farming experience on Sakurajima, known for its majestic active volcano. Discover where Kagoshima's fresh produce is grown and enjoy Kagoshima's specialty, shabu-shabu hotpot, at a local restaurant. In Kumamoto, learn how to spend time at an izakaya and experience the full charm of dining at an izakaya. In Fukuoka, enjoy the local cuisine such as Fukuoka's famous tonkotsu ramen, yakitori, and oden at food stalls.
(2) In Kagoshima, enjoy the beautiful Sengan-en Garden while gazing upon Sakurajima, the symbol of the city. In Kumamoto, take a deep dive into the life of Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary swordsman who was said to be undefeated in 60 battles. In Fukuoka, watch traditional crafts such as Hakata textiles and spinning tops being made by skilled craftspeople up close, and try your hand at making your own original handicrafts (painting marbles).
(3) In Fukuoka, enjoy the coastal scenery while cycling along Shikanoshima Island in Hakata Bay and get a glimpse of the traditional townscape of villages that prospered from the fishing industry and the lifestyles of the local residents. In Kumamoto, take a guided tour of Suizenji Jojuen Garden, the symbol of Kumamoto also known as the “Land of Water.” In Kagoshima, enjoy cycling through the refreshing breeze from Kinko Bay while gazing at the majestic active volcano Sakurajima.