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JOMC Newsletter

Exploring Unique Japanese Accommodation: Temples and Castles - JNTO

Overseas visitors to Japan have traditionally been offered two types of accommodation:Western-style hotels or traditional Japanese inns. In recent years, new options have emerged, including the chance tostay overnight at historical temples and castles.

Many overseas travelers will have a daytime visit to a temple or castle on their to-do list while in Japan, but most will not have considered staying in one. This is no surprise, as only around 300 of the approximately 77,000 temples in Japan--and even fewer castles--offer accommodation.

In 2020, the Japan Tourism Agency launched a new initiative promoting experience-based travel to Japan, including temple and castle stays, aiming to leverage the country's local and regional attractions in an effort to encourage sustainable tourism.

提供画像_平戸城.jpgOvernight stays in such surroundings offer a richer travel experience, offering more opportunity for travelers to connect with the history, culture and people of the local area. And with temples and castles offering these unique experiences, often in locations rarely visited by tourists, it attracts people to these areas and helps revitalize local economies.

Temple Stays

According to TripAdvisor, Okunoin temple on Mount Koya in Wakayama prefecture consistently ranks in the top 10most popular destinations. There are over 100 sacred temples on Mount Koya, and around 50 of them, including Okunoin, offer accommodation, allowing visitors to experience daily temple life, including vegetarian meals known as Shojin Ryori as well as prayers and meditation. Shojin Ryori is a type of Buddhist vegetarian meal introduced to Japan with the spread of Zen Buddhism. The JNTO website has details of temples in other regions that offer accommodation and pilgrim experiences.

Castle Stays

Hirado Castle (Hirado City, Nagasaki Prefecture)

This historic site offered Japan's first-ever castle accommodation. In response to an offer of a free overnight stay for one group of guests in 2017, it received approximately 7,000 applications, the majority of them from Europeans. This overwhelmingly positive result revealed the potential of the castle accommodation market.

The castle officially commenced offering overnight accommodation earlier this year. Only a single group of guests can stay on any one night, allowing them to have the castle to themselves while maintaining social distance. The luxurious overnight stay with two meals (including a French-Japanese fusion dinner using fresh local seafood) costs approximately JPY 70,000 (USD 620) per person.

As far back as the Nara period, Hirado was the gateway between Japan and the world. Today, it continues to offertravelers a glimpse of its history, and fresh wonders.

Ozu Castle (Ozu Town, Ehime Prefecture)

Known as "Little Kyoto in the Iyo region," Ozu town is full of natural and historical beauty. Its castle started offering overnight stays last year under the management of a hotel company. To provide the full experience of being a lord at a castle, guests are greeted by hotel staff at the airport, driven to the castle in a luxury car, and welcomed at the gate by a troop of samurai. Guests can even dress up in samurai armor or kimonos and role play as castle-dwellers.

A stay at Ozu Castle will leave guests both nostalgic and enchanted.

Renovating these historical properties in regional areas for overseas visitors is no easy task. In collaboration with thehospitality sector and local communities, the Japanese government aims to make these accommodations more accessible, including the provision of barrier-free access and multilingual customer support. Guests will be treated to an unforgettable historical yet stress-free and modern-day travel experience.



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