1. Fujiyama Tower
    Photo: Fujikyu Co. LtdFujiyama Walk, Yamanashi
  2. Gundam Fukuoka
    Photo: Bandai Namaco Amusement Gundam Theme Park, Fukuoka
  3. Super Nintendo World at USJ Osaka
    Photo: Usataro/DreamstimeSuper Nintendo World at USJ Osaka
  4. Hiroshi Sugimoto
    Photo: Hiroshi Sugimoto 'Mondrian' (2014) © Sugimoto StudioHiroshi Sugimoto Gallery Time Corridor, Naoshima

15 new attractions in Japan that opened during the pandemic

The pandemic didn't stop Japan – here are the best new attractions, hotels and restaurants that opened in the last few years

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada
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Despite the pandemic, Japan has welcomed a host of exciting new attractions over the last few years. Tokyo in particular has undergone some massive changes: sure, there were some unfortunate closures that we miss dearly, but the city also saw many interesting new places opening up. Now that the borders are finally open to tourism, it's time for you to come back and experience all the new things you miss when travelling to Japan was restricted. 

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or seasoned Japan traveller, there’s a lot of new stuff to check out. From jaw-dropping observation decks and thrilling theme parks to gorgeous art spaces and relaxing ryokan, here’s what you can look forward to since you’ve been gone.

RECOMMENDED: Discover the most beautiful places in Japan

  • Attractions
  • Theme parks

Osaka’s Universal Studios welcomed the world’s first ever Super Nintendo World in 2021, which is now easily the most sought-after attraction in the entire theme park. The section features rides like Mario Kart: Koopa's Challenge and Yoshi's Adventure as well as other interactive elements like being able to punch yellow boxes for coins. If that wasn't enough, there are also Nintendo-themed shops, eateries and a number of mini games you can play. Mini games include racing in Mario Kart, unlocking Bowser Jr's toy chest and finding 8-bit characters. Just make sure to purchase the Super Nintendo World wristband (¥3,800) sold at kiosks in the area so you can enjoy these extra little games.

  • Things to do
  • City Life

Gundam fans have a lot to enjoy while visiting Japan. Aside from the Yokohama Gundam Factory that features a giant moving mecha, a brand new Gundam theme park has opened in Fukuoka. Gundam Park Fukuoka is located inside the Mitsui Shopping Park LalaPort Fukuoka and is home to video game arcades, merch shops and the world's tallest Gundam statue. The mini theme park comprises three main areas and even hosts special events and exhibitions where you can geek out further over your favourite mechas.

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

The world's first Godzilla attraction is now open at Nijigen no Mori theme park in Hyogo, where you can experience the mindblowing Godzilla Interception Operation Awaji. The new ride is basically a massive zip-lining course that propels you straight through Godzilla's monstrous teeth-ridden mouth. What’s more, the park showcases an exclusive Godzilla film made just for the attraction, which can be watched at the on-site theatre.

  • Art
  • Art

The digital technologists at teamLab have outdone themselves again with a takeover of Osaka’s Nagai Botanical Garden in Higashisumiyoshi. Interestingly, the new permanent attraction is meant to be enjoyed after dark and is only open in the evenings. Walk through immersive exhibits including a camellia garden of ovoids that emit colourful lights and a field of brightly lit cosmos flowers.

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  • Art
  • Art

Earlier this year, Japan's art island of Naoshima introduced two new art galleries, plus an avant-garde glass teahouse. Valley Gallery is one of the new museum spaces and is designed by celebrated architect Tadao Ando. The new structure houses Yayoi Kusama's 'Narcissus Garden' installation, which extends outside into the garden surrounding the gallery. Additionally, the Hiroshi Sugimoto Gallery Time Corridor has opened as an extension of the Benesse House Park and showcases several of Sugimoto's works, including a gorgeous glass teahouse where you can sip tea and enjoy sweets.

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

On the hunt for the best possible view of Mt Fuji? Look no further than Fuji-Q Highland's new 55-metre-tall observation deck, complete with a giant slide. Sitting ​​right beside the theme park's scariest roller coaster (the record-breaking Fujiyama – King of Coasters), the new attraction has unparallelled views of Mt Fuji that you’d probably miss if you were on the ride. However, if you still want a bit of a thrill, there's now a giant spiral slide at the observation deck that will take you down to the bottom of the tower.

  • Travel
  • Transport & Travel

This new mountainside observation deck in Hakuba offers stunning views of the snow-capped Northern Alps, plus there are some outdoor adventures to enjoy nearby. Situated 1,100 metres above sea level on Mt Iwatake, the observation deck looks over the entire town of Hakuba and is surrounded by lush greenery. If visiting during the green season, you can enjoy mountain biking and horseback riding. Otherwise, Hakuba makes for a great ski destination in the winter.

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

This 40-metre-tall modern masterpiece designed by Kengo Kuma is located within Tokorozawa Sakura Town and houses a library, art gallery, cafés and more. While the granite exterior is stunning, just wait until you see the jaw-dropping 'bookshelf theatre' that features eight-metre-high shelves holding a whopping 50,000 books. More of a manga fan? Stop by one of the other libraries in the complex, which houses 25,000 books including an impressive selection of manga and young adult novels.

  • Travel
  • Transport & Travel

This brand new memorial and education centre has opened in honour of the victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake that devastated Japan's Tohoku region. The new space is in Minamisanriku in Miyagi prefecture, one of the areas heavily affected by the tsunami. Designed by famed architect Kengo Kuma, the memorial features exhibits with lost objects and remnants from the disaster as well as photographs taken in the aftermath. There are also workshops to help teach people emergency life-saving skills.

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  • Travel
  • Transport & Travel

Dine by the Pacific Ocean at this stunning new restaurant in Kochi prefecture. The restaurant is part of the new and improved Ashizuri Pacific Hotel, which was given a massive upgrade and turned into the luxury resort now known as The Mana Village. Initially just opened to hotel guests, Azzurissimo, the new waterfront Italian restaurant, is now finally open to the public. The restaurant serves up classic Italian dishes made from organic ingredients and has spectacular views of the ocean.

  • Restaurants
  • Eating

Can’t get enough of Snoopy? You’ll want to stop by the very special Snoopy-themed Japanese teahouse and chocolate shop that's opened in the onsen town of Yufuin. The teahouse offers a menu inspired by Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the entire Peanuts gang, as well as sweet treats and souvenirs. Hop next door and you'll find a new branch of Snoopy Chocolat, a dedicated Snoopy-themed chocolate store selling all sorts of tasty bites.

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House of Ki No Bi, Kyoto
Photo: Lim Chee Wah

House of Ki No Bi, Kyoto

Gin lovers should not miss out on the new House of Ki No Bi in Kyoto. This gorgeous new space is dedicated to the first dry gin made in Kyoto and features a shop, restaurant-bar and showroom where you can learn the history and manufacturing process of gin. The restaurant-bar known as Ki No Bi no Ma, serves up local sake, beer, light snacks and cocktails made with Ki No Bi gin. If you're wanting a proper meal, you can also order obanzai (traditional Kyoto cuisine) made with Kyoto-sourced veggies and seafood.

  • Travel
  • Transport & Travel

This new luxury ryokan on the famed art island of Naoshima delivers traditional Japanese hospitality with a contemporary twist, with kaiseki meals available and private open-air baths in each of the guest rooms. Fitting for Japan's art island, the ryokan has a number of contemporary artworks around the hotel, including in the guest rooms. Avid collector? You’ll be glad to know that some of these works are even available for purchase.

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  • Travel
  • Transport & Travel

You can't beat the views at this stunning new hotel in Kyoto featuring an infinity onsen overlooking the city. Located in the heart of Japan’s old capital, the all new Shijo Kawaramachi Onsen hotel is only a one-minute walk away from Kyoto's popular Shijo-dori and Kawaramachi-dori shopping streets. If that wasn’t enough, it's even got a rooftop terrace and cocktail bar with panoramic views of the city.

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