Japan is open to tourism again – here are 20 reasons to visit now

Not to mention Fukushima itself: the prefecture is not limited to nuclear power plants, but is also famous for its samurai heritage embodied in the atmosphere of Aizu-Wakamatsu, as well as for its winter ski resorts and delicious gyoza dumplings. InsideJapan Tours (0117 244 3380; insidejapantours.com) uses an extensive network of local contacts to create some of Tohoku’s best insider trips, including its popular Northern Soul group tour as well as self-guided trips.

11. Socially Distant Luxury

Never mind the skyscraper hotels brushing the clouds. Those wishing to avoid the crowds should check into one of the many small, perfectly appointed one-bedroom hotels.

Among the swankiest is Trunk(House) (from £4,771 per night; trunk-house.com) – an elegantly renovated 70-year-old former training house for geishas hidden away in a maze of alleyways in the district of Kagurazaka in Tokyo. It’s home to a cutting-edge fusion of old and new — from Japanese gardens, a tatami-style tea room, and 24-hour service from butlers and private chefs, to contemporary art installations by Tom Sachs, a hinoki bath big enough to swim in and amidst design classics of the last century. Not to mention the world’s smallest disco, a small neon-lit space with sparkling popcorn cocktails and state-of-the-art karaoke – just for you.

12. Seto’s serene interior

The scattered silhouettes of tiny fishing islands scatter the serene blue waters of the Seto Inland Sea, a body of water that connects three of Japan’s main islands. With its temperate climate, it has been nicknamed the Mediterranean of Japan (an island is famous for its olives). The region is perhaps best known for its art islands, particularly Naoshima, which is high on creative wish lists this year, having opened two new galleries – Tadao Ando’s minimalist and angular Valley Gallery, filled with Yayoi Kusama’s countless reflective metal balls (part of his work Narcissus Garden); as well as the new Hiroshi Sugimoto: Time Corridors gallery, presenting 30 works by the emblematic artist (benesse-artsite.jp).

A must-have new addition to the island is the Naoshima Ryokan ROKA (rooms from £640; roka.voyage): chic, boutique, creative, a highlight are its 11 minimalist rooms, with private sunken wooden baths and glass retractable walls.

Meanwhile, Guntu (three-day trips from £3,390; guntu.jp), a Noah’s Ark-style ‘floating ryokan’ mini-boat by architect Yasushi Horibe, remains perhaps the easiest way stylish to move around the area. And the hottest ticket on the Hiroshima side of the Seto Inland Sea? Azumi Setoda, a chic and modern take on a traditional hostel ryokan from Aman founder Adrian Zecha on the tiny island of Ikuchijima (rooms from £452; azumi.co).

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