Japan Data

From Snow Country to Hiroshima: International Tourist Preferences

Economy Society

A survey of foreign tourists to Japan shows distinct regional preferences.

A survey by the Japan Tourism Agency found that Tokyo was the prefecture with the most foreign overnight visitors at 21.8 million, followed by Osaka (13.9 million), Hokkaidō (8.2 million), Kyoto (5.7 million), and Okinawa (5.3 million). The top 10 was roughly the same as for Japanese tourists, with a few exceptions. For example, Yamanashi Prefecture placed twenty-fourth for domestic tourists but tenth for foreign tourists. Many of the latter go to the prefecture’s Arakurayama Sengen Park, which is featured prominently in major travel guidebooks and airline magazines for its view of Mount Fuji with a five-storied pagoda in the foreground.

A closer look at which prefectures are popular with different nationalities reveals some interesting details.

Chinese visitors are particularly drawn to Japan’s Golden Route for tourists—from Tokyo and the Fuji-Hakone area through Nagoya to Osaka and Kyoto—which has easy access and much to see. In particular, mainland Chinese accounted for 65% of the foreign visitors staying overnight in Shizuoka Prefecture, and 42% in Yamanashi Prefecture, indicating the high popularity of Mount Fuji.

In contrast, tourists from Taiwan showed a strong presence in Tōhoku: Iwate (59%), Yamagata (46%), and Akita (43%). They also dominated in other prefectures that are known for their cold, snowy winters, representing 42% of international overnight visitors in Gunma and 33% in Nagano.

Geographical proximity makes Kyūshū a popular destination for tourists from South Korea. They dominated the region, particularly in the prefectures of Fukuoka (48%), Saga (52%), and Ōita (59%), where they accounted for more than half of the foreign overnight visitors.

Foreign overnight visitors from Western countries were prominent in Kyoto Prefecture and Hiroshima Prefecture. In particular, more than 40% of the total in Hiroshima were American (13%), European (21%) or Australian (8%). These numbers are especially significant given that more than 80% of all foreign tourists to Japan are from Asian countries.

Visitors from Hong Kong topped the rankings for Tokushima and Kagoshima Prefectures.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

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