After a very rough 2011, Japan is paving the way to a better 2012 with major openings around the country and new air service from the U.S. With its recovery well underway and visitor numbers on the rise, the destination remains unusually affordable, making it clear Japan is taking no chances when it comes to enticing foreign travelers this coming year. Plus, the Japan National Tourism Organization is running promotions like a Facebook sweepstakes through December 30 to give away a customized trip for four to Japan in 2012.
New planes and new service distinguish Japan Airlines' nonstop route between Boston and Tokyo. Service begins on April 22 aboard the airline's new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The airline will codeshare with American on the flight, and Japan Airlines is looking to partner with JetBlue to further strengthen its U.S. network structure.
New or totally reinvented hotels slated to debut in 2012 are the Ritz Carlton on Okinawa and the Tokyo Station Hotel. Other big events include the May opening of Tokyo Sky Tree, the tallest free-standing tower in the world (at over 2,000 feet tall) and the summer unveiling of Hikarie tower in Tokyo, which will be a cultural hub with theaters, galleries, and shops. And those looking for something offbeat but very Japanese can visit the new Cup Noodles Museum, where visitors can learn the history of the snack before heading to the workshop to make their own cup noodle.