Corporate Destination Overview: Japan
A stunning island nation in the Pacific Ocean boasting some of the most dramatic sceneries in the world and a rich ancient heritage that has merged seamlessly with the country’s large-scale modernisation; Japan is a sometimes overlooked but nonetheless enticing corporate event destination.
The Japan National Tourism Organisation reported as of February 2015 that international visitors to the country are increasing year on year at an impressive rate of 57.6% - that’s an astonishing 1.5million international visitors. Japan has a proven track record of hosting successful large-scale meetings and events, including the annual IMF and World Bank Group meeting in 2012, which saw more than 10,000 delegates descend on Tokyo. With several other large-scale meetings on the horizon like the ACM Siggraph due to be held on Kobe in November 2015, as well as the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan has built itself an international reputation for MICE excellence.
With the apt tag line ‘Endless Discovery’ it is not hard to see why Japan has become a favourite business destination. Offering world-class convention and exhibition centres in all of its prominent cities and some truly unique hotels – Godzilla anyone? – Japan will really impress delegates. Apart from its fantastic event facilities Japan offers huge geographical variety, from snowy mountain peaks in the North, to a subtropical climate and coral reef fringed islands in the South which lends itself perfectly to a huge array of exciting incentive opportunities. Abound with UNESCO heritage sites including temples, shrines and gardens and renowned for its distinctive culture and delicious cuisines, Japan is one of the world’s most exciting countries.
To give you a brief insight into some of the fantastic events facilities on offer, we take a look at some of Japan’s most prominent cities from each of its six regions, working from North to South…
Sapporo – (Hokkaido & Tohoku)
Perched in the northernmost part of Japan, Sapporo is a stunning city that prides itself on its diverse range of incentive ideas and teambuilding activities that are facilitated by the vast snow-capped mountain ranges that surround the city edges and the expansive forests covering 64% of its area. From trekking through the forests and skiing down mountains to team sports and culinary challenges, Sapporo has something for all corporate groups.
Sapporo has an international record of successfully hosting large-scale sporting activities, most notably Asia’s first ever Winter Olympics in 1972 and it’s annual Snow Festival which draws over 2 million visitors from around the world. With international direct flights from Asia’s biggest airports and frequent national connecting flights, Sapporo is easily accessible. All the city’s major convention and event facilities and hotels are located right in the city centre, creating a vibrant hub that is every corporate event planners dream.
Tokyo – (Kanto)
As the country’s capital, Tokyo is the centre of Japan’s politics, economy, business, information, culture and manufacturing and as well as its transportation network. Known as one of the world’s greatest cities, and one of the world’s most modern, Tokyo still retains many of its unique cultural traditions and customs – and it is this exciting fusion of historic and contemporary that makes it a favourite international event destination.
There are plenty of after work activities for delegates to indulge in from fine traditional Japanese cuisine – Tokyo’s establishments have more Michelin stars than any other city in the world – to boutique shopping, as well as flower arranging, kimono wearing and taking part in a traditional tea ceremony. World heritage sites such as the springs of Hakone and temples and shrines of Kamakura are all within easy reach.
Tokyo Big Sight is the city’s main exhibition centre with 10 exhibition halls spread across the East and West wings, 22 versatile conference rooms located in an iconic inverted pyramid structure known as The Conference Tower, and several flexible glass roofed spaces. Whilst Tokyo International Forum is the city’s largest convention and performing arts centre, boasting a range of modern event spaces including eight halls the biggest of which spanning 5,000 sqm and 34 conferences room including a theatre with over 5,000 seats.
Nagoya – (Chubu)
Japan’s third-biggest economic centre after Tokyo and Osaka, Nagoya is famous for its manufacture of automobiles, electronic devices and machine tools, which have also made it a favourite destination for technology and car events. Unique corporate event venues include the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology and the picturesque Noritake Garden, whilst the Nagoya Congress Centre is the city’s go-to multipurpose event venue with a long history of holding prominent international conferences and congresses.
Nagoya also boasts a rich cultural heritage that delegates can enjoy after working hours or on days off. The Nagoya Castle is one of the city’s most prominent historical landmarks completed in 1612 and is known for its unique connected donjon style of construction and golden dolphins on the topmost castle roof. Delegates can also enjoy the city’s proud local cuisines, which comprise of miso cutlets, kishimen, miso-boiled udon, hitsumabushi and temusu!
Osaka - (Kinki)
With a population of over 8.8 million, Osaka is Japan’s second largest city and its excellent transportation links, state-of-the-art facilities, 50,000 plus hotel rooms and close proximity to sites of historical interest have made it a popular business destination.
Kansai Airport has direct flights to many of the world’s major cities and is a mere 30-minute train journey from Osaka’s city centre, whilst bullet trains connect Osaka to other major Japanese locations within 2 hours. Osaka’s International Exhibition Centre (INTEX Osaka) boasts one of the largest exhibitions halls in the whole of Japan at 10,535 sqm. Whilst, the Osaka International Convention Centre is a fantastic multi-purpose events venue with world-class facilities, 25 meetings rooms, a spacious pillar-less exhibition space and theatre with seating for 2,754 delegates. Knowledge Capital Congress Convention Centre, located adjacent to the city’s main train station is Osaka’s newest events venue having opened in Spring 2013. Osaka Central Public Hall, Asia and Pacific Trade Centre are also outstanding corporate event venues. Corporate event planners are quite literally spoilt for choice when it comes to excellent venues in Osaka.
As the birthplace of “Bunraku” (Japanese Puppet Shows), “rkugo” (a traditional form of humorous storytelling) and “manzai (Japanese stand up comedy), Osaka has a rich history of traditional entertainment. It also has a 400-year history as “the Kitchen of Japan” with specialities including shabu-shabu and Osaka sushi! World-renowned temples and monuments such as Himeji Castle and ancient pilgrimage routes like Kumando Kodo are also just a stone's throw away.
Hiroshima – (Chugoku & Shikoku)
Hiroshima is a city known across the world for being the victim of the atomic bomb during the Second World War, now 60 years on from the end of the war Hiroshima is a thriving metropolis with numerous state-of-the-art convention centres.
The city’s twin heritage sites – the A-Bomb Dome and Itsukushima Shrine – act respectively as lasting memorials of peace and the glories of Japanese art and culture. A major draw for many visitors they offer an iconic backdrop for your corporate event. Known as the “city of water” for its location off the Seto Inland Sea, Hiroshima is also famous for its seafood and Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki and sake. Cruises along the river provide delegates with a great way to see the city and get away from the bustling streets for a few hours to enjoy and soak up the city’s unique atmosphere from afar.
The convention zone is centred around the peace and memorial park with most hotels and conference facilities within easy walking distance of each other. The Grand Prince Hotel is the largest urban resort in the region with 534 guest rooms and an impressive 1,560 sqm banquet hall.
Okinawa - (Kyushu & Okinawa)
An island off the South coast of Japan, Okinawa is a unique corporate event destination that will really impress delegates! A testament to its worldwide appeal, 6 million tourists visit the region every year to enjoy the tropical scenery, warm climate and azure waters.
But the island isn’t just about rest and relaxation, it also boasts an impressive urban convention complex with numerous conference buildings, events halls, flexible seminar rooms and a theatre seating up to 5,000 delegates.
Nagasaki – (Kyushu & Okinawa)
Japan’s longest prevailing international trading port with the West, Nagasaki is a leading international tourist city where visitors can enjoy an exciting mix of Japanese, Western and East Asian cultures.
Nagasaki has hosted several large-scale academic conferences and its seven conventions facilities or varying sizes offering everything that any corporate event planner could ever want. With 170 hotels with 15,000 rooms, there is also plenty of accommodation for companies to bring their best delegates along. Impressive venues include the Glover Garden which closes to the public in the evenings can play host to corporate receptions with stunning views over the port.
Of course, Japan has a wealth of traditional and modern entertainment options that will add that extra special touch to your corporate event.
Authentic Japanese taiko drumming is a dynamic high-impact entertainment option that has a long history in Japan. One of our best groups has over 20 years of experience bringing this traditional Japanese art form to audiences around the world. Their high-energy show features breathtaking athleticism, over 20 drums, pounding beats and traditional dress. An exciting stage show perfect for large-scale events, this group will really impress international delegates.
Combining traditional Japanese arts and modern technologies is our video mapping dance and combat group from Tokyo. Performing karate and kabuki with elements of Japanese street dance locking, punking and waacking they create an original dance style with roots in both the traditional and contemporary. Performed to a backdrop of interactive video mapping projection, they will bring an undeniable visual wow-factor to your corporate event.
Bringing your corporate event firmly into the 21st Century is our Tokyo based optical illusionist. He has wowed audiences throughout Asia and Europe with his immense skill, including for high-profile celebrities such as the CEO of Microsoft Japan and at the marriage party of Toru Fujisawa. In high demand, his unique ring manipulation act is unlike anything that you or your guests will have ever seen before, he can even use rings that are in the shape of your company’s logo for a personalised effect.