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7 Places and Events to Look Forward to in Japan in 2022

Where would you travel to in Japan in 2022? This year brings a series of events and new openings that are definitely worth checking out, including the Setouchi Triennale and the Ghibli Park in Aichi. We introduce seven places and events to look forward to.
2022.01.20

International Art Festivals and New Must-Visit Places!

The year 2022 is an exciting one for Japan due to international art events and new facilities that are planned to be opened. The Setouchi Triennale (Kagawa), the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale (Niigata), and the opening of the Ghibli Park (Aichi) are just some of the events to look forward to.

In this article, we introduce some of the noteworthy sightseeing spots in 2022! Please use this information when planning your next trip.

*Some events and facilities do not have official schedules yet. Please refer to their respective homepages for the latest information.

1. Setouchi Triennale in Kagawa

瀬戸内国際芸術祭

A ferry connecting Kagawa with many of the nearby islands

The Setouchi Triennale is Japan’s largest contemporary art festival, held once every three years. Starting with Naoshima Island, often called the Sanctuary of Contemporary Art, there are art installations on 12 islands in the Setouchi Inland Sea alongside Takamatsu Port and Uno Port.

The charm of Setouchi Triennale is not limited to its art exhibits. Another reason for the event’s popularity is the stunning scenery of various islands and delicious regional cuisine. The warm hospitality of the locals has also made the Seto Inland Sea a special place for many visitors.

2022 marks the fifth time this event will be held. It consists of three sessions: the spring session is held from April 14 to May 18, the summer session from August 5 to September 4, and the fall session runs from September 29 to November 6.

Please click here for the Setouchi Triennale’s official homepage.

2. The Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in Niigata

大地の芸術祭

“The Rice Field” by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. Photo courtesy of PR Times

Along with the Setouchi Triennale, the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale is another popular contemporary art event.

The mountains in Niigata Prefecture’s Echigo-Tsumari region serve as the stage for the venue, where modern art exhibits and culinary events are held. Tunnel of Light, an art installation by Ma Yansong of MAD Architects, is one of the many dynamic artworks that have fully used the surrounding natural environment.

This year will mark the eighth edition of this event. There were plans to hold it in 2021, but it was postponed due to the pandemic. It will resume in 2022, starting with the summer session (the schedule is still under review).

The Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale also holds various art events outside of the main festival. For example, from January 29 to March 13, 2022, the Echigo-Tsumari Art Field 2022 Winter will be held. Visitors can enjoy an assortment of art installations.

Please click here for the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale’s official homepage.

3. Ghibli Park in Aichi Prefecture

ジブリパーク

A model of Howl’s Moving Castle set to open in 2023. Photo courtesy of PR Times ©Studio Ghibli

The Ghibli Park is planned to open in the autumn of 2022. It’s located in the Aichi Expo Memorial Park in Nagakute City.

At this new facility, visitors can enjoy the works of Studio Ghibli, the popular animation company known worldwide. This new attraction will become Japan’s largest theme park. In terms of size, it will be four times larger than Universal Studios Japan and twice as big as Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea.

When it opens in fall 2022, there will be a wide assortment of exciting attractions for everyone.

Youth Hill (Seishun no Oka) is modeled based on the unique world that viewers saw in the movies “Whisper of the Heart” (Mimi wo Sumaseba) and “The Cat Returns” (Neko no Ongaeshi).

The rural landscape from the movie “My Neighbor Totoro” is also recreated at Dondoko Forest. In addition, the Ghibli Large Warehouse Area features an exhibition hall and a children’s play area.

There are also plans to expand this theme park from 2023 and beyond.

Please click here (Japanese) for Ghibli Park’s official homepage.

4. Frogs FARM on Awaji Island

Frogs Farm

Awaji Island connects Shikoku Island with the Kansai region. It’s home to many popular sightseeing spots, including HELLO KITTY SMILE (Japanese), Awaji World Park Onokoro (Japanese), and Nijigen no Mori.

Awaji Island’s latest attraction is Frogs FARM, produced by the restaurant management company Balnibarbi. Situated on the island’s west coast, this is a food theme park with a total area of 25,000 square meters (269,000 square feet).

Many of its shops were open for business in 2021. This included PICNIC GARDEN, where visitors can enjoy picnics and barbecues, a glamping (*1) facility, an izakaya using fresh local ingredients, a sushi restaurant, and a ramen shop. Guests can look forward to the opening of new facilities and various events in 2022.

Please click here (Japanese) for Frogs FARM’s official homepage.

5. Sea Dragoon in Fukuoka Prefecture

海の中道海浜公園

Sea Dragoon is planned to open in Fukuoka City. This new facility offers visitors a variety of interactive experiences.

It features attractions such as Sagamiko Resort Pleasure Forest’s Muscle Monster and Expo Commemorative Park’s Banpaku Beast. The mastermind behind both attractions is SE Amusement Company.

At present (January 2022), there have been no official announcements on what kind of facility this will be. However, visitors can expect it to be a one-of-a-kind place based on the large-scale projects handled by this company.

In addition, it’s been reported that Fukuoka’s Uminonakamichi Seaside Park is being developed as a stay-over recreational hub, offering accommodations and various activities. Although an overview of the facilities has not been announced, visitors are anticipating what’s in store.

Please click here (Japanese) for SE Amusement’s official homepage and here for Uminonakamichi Seaside Park’s official website.

6. The Shikoku Pilgrimage

お遍路

Photo by Pixta

In their “2022 Best in Travel List,” the popular guidebook Lonely Planet placed Shikoku number six in their Top Regions category.

Shikoku is known for its pilgrimage culture, referred to as “ohenro.” It has long been praised for being a source of healing for people and presenting a new worldview as we deal with challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the pandemic, many travelers are hesitant to visit regions that are crowded. With that in mind, the Shikoku pilgrimage offers visitors an experience that comforts and soothes the soul in uncrowded surroundings. This might be the ideal travel destination in 2022.

Japanese travel agencies also have a full lineup of Shikoku pilgrimage tours. The Visit to Seven Places is an opportunity to visit seven temples in one day, focusing on Kagawa’s Zentsuji Temple. These and other tours allow visitors to have a pilgrimage experience even during a short visit to Japan.

7. Ruins Featured in Makoto Shinkai's Upcoming Movie

軍艦島

Gunkanjima Island. Photo by Pixta

In 2022, the popular film director Makoto Shinkai will be releasing his latest animation movie: “Suzume no Tojimari” (Suzume’s Locking-Up). Until now, Shinkai’s films have recreated the beautiful scenery found in various parts of Japan. However, this time, the ruins of a former settlement take center stage.

Specifically, which ruins in Japan will serve as the model for this film’s story is currently unknown. But in a previous article, MATCHA introduced locations that could potentially be the setting for this film. Try making a guess which place will become the newest popular destination among anime fans!

Take All Precautions and Enjoy a Safe Trip in Japan

Our lifestyles are still being affected by the pandemic so please make sure to take all the precautions to stay safe while traveling. Following standard procedures such as wearing a mask and disinfecting your hands often are a must. With this in mind, we hope you enjoy your travels this year!

Main image by Pixta

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.