Japan is center stage right now, with the Rugby World Cup (2019) just completed, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games right around the corner, and the recently confirmed World Expo in Osaka on the horizon in 2025. Why is this country so often chosen for the world’s most prestigious events? One key factor is Japan’s outstanding spirit of welcome. Just ask Suay Aksoy, the President of ICOM, the International Council of Museums. ICOM 2019 drew more than 4,000 attendees from 141 countries, far exceeding initial expectations of around 3,000. ICOM President Aksoy noted that “as hosts, Japanese people…embraced us, and it’s been very inspirational.”
2019 was a great year for large conventions in Japan. In addition to ICOM in Kyoto, the World Congress of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics was held in Kobe. Takaaki Chin, the Local Organising Committee Chair, welcomed the opportunity to “call the attention of stakeholders worldwide to the excellent technology and devices developed in Japan.” One of the event’s topics, “Sports & Physical Activity”, was especially relevant, as the country looks forward to the Paralympics.
The Tsukuba Conference, meanwhile, brought approximately 500 future leaders from all over the globe together in Tsukuba, Japan’s famous “science city.” Researchers, entrepreneurs, and other experts shared ideas contributing to a deeper understanding of the future of science and technology, along with insights into the ways in which society will benefit.
When Japan is the host, the planner enjoys peace of mind. Looking ahead, the 15th World Congress on Computational Mechanics is predicted to draw 3,500 scholars to Yokohama in 2022. Organizers can be confident that every aspect of a vast and complex operation will be handled smoothly.
But flawless execution doesn’t mean keeping things bland and basic. Japan is always willing to boldly execute on dazzling new ideas in convention-related hospitality, without sacrificing any of its smooth, reassuring competence. Many world-class culture sites, including UNESCO World Heritage and Japanese National Treasures, offer participants exclusive access—after hours and behind the scenes. Expect performances and demonstrations of arts and traditions that are quintessentially Japanese and cannot be enjoyed anywhere else in the world.
Smooth transport is a crucial factor in experiencing everything Japan has to offer, and a nation that is already renowned for its travel infrastructure is getting even better as preparations advance for the surge of visitors expected during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Access to the Tokyo area from Narita and Haneda Airports will be faster than ever. Travel from Narita to central Tokyo will take 36 minutes, and the trip from Haneda just 11 minutes. Outstanding accessibility will be a prominent feature of major train stations, bus terminals and airports. And JR East will offer special chargeable rail passes: “Welcome Suica” cards will require no deposit, unlike other similar solutions.
A comfortable, relaxing retreat is especially welcome after a day packed with activities, and Japan is drawing international attention with a wide range of new and refurbished luxury hotels and meeting facilities. In Tokyo, the former Hotel Okura Tokyo re-opened in September 2019 as The Okura Tokyo, featuring 508 guest rooms and 3,600 m² of meeting space. In the Nagoya region, the Aichi International Exhibition Center (Aichi Sky Expo) opened in September 2019. Its 60,000 m² exhibition hall and diverse meeting spaces can be accessed directly from Chubu Centrair International Airport. In Nara, a new conference center opening in the first half of 2020 will feature meeting spaces including a 2,100 m² hall. In Yokohama, mid-2020 will see the high-end hotel brand Kahala (originating in Oahu, Hawaii) make its debut on the world stage with The Kahala Hotel & Resort Yokohama. The Yokohama Minato Mirai International Convention Center—PACIFICO Yokohama—is already a world-class multi-functional convention center that will gain a new 6300㎡ hall and other meeting spaces in early 2020.
As athletes with sights set on winning medals and breaking records make their final preparations, Japan is raising the bar and setting the pace for hospitality in meetings, events, and conventions.