A survey of trends in visitors to Japan in 2015 by the Japan National Tourist Organization found that the following were the top five things tourists were “Looking forward to before visiting Japan”.
1: Eating Japanese food (69.7%)
2: Shopping (55.3%)
3: Touring nature and scenic beauty spots (44.0%)
4: Walking around lively city streets (39.0%)
5. Onsen spa bathing (29.8%)
The ranking of “What did you do on your trip?”, on the other hand, was as follows.
1: Eating Japanese food (95.8%)
2: Shopping (84.1%)
3: Walking around lively city streets (71.2%)
4: Touring nature and scenic beauty spots (64.0%)
5: Drinking Japanese sake (42.9%)
“Eating Japanese food” has an unshakable position as the greatest interest for a trip. Food, shopping, and tourism are the top three objectives for a trip to Japan.
The top rankings for what people looked forward to and what they actually did were almost the same.
It is interesting to note that items which had low scores in pre-trip expectations, namely “Experience Japan’s history and traditional culture” (16.7%), “Experience everyday life in Japan” (15.4%), and “Enjoy Japan’s pop culture” (9.2%) scored 24.1%, 22.3%, and 13.8% respectively in what people actually did. Thus, these three categories surpassed expectations and take the top three places in all categories for level of satisfaction. Satisfaction exceeds expectations in soft fields such as culture and experiences.
Items that scored higher on “Things I want to do next time” than on “Things I did this time” were “Onsen bathing” (this time 37.9% -> next time 43.4%), “Experience Japan’s history and traditional culture” (similarly 24.1% -> 26.6%), “Theme parks” (21.7% -> 23.3%), “Experience everyday life in Japan” (22.3% -> 22.5%), “Skiing or snowboarding” (3.0% -> 17.9%), and “Nature experience tours and farming and fishing village experiences” (6.2% -> 15.4%).
Over 90% wanted to visit Japan again, with 57.9% saying they “Definitely wanted to come again”, which suggests that expectations for experiences of Japan’s soft attractions will rise greatly in future.
Hotels and restaurants are increasingly creating venues where foreign visitors can try things for themselves, rather than just looking and listening. Examples include making sushi and wagashi Japanese sweets, and tea ceremony and kimono dressing experiences between lunch and dinner.
There will be rising expectations for new ideas to be offered to meet foreign visitors’ needs for experiences such as these.