Kikuchi Gorge
Photo: photo-ac/BonkuraKikuchi Gorge, Kumamoto

National parks in Japan are installing wifi to encourage ‘workations’

Parks are setting up wifi, private workstations and more to help digital nomads make the wilderness their new office

By Emma Steen
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Feeling ready to ditch your WFH setup for something more scenic? Japan’s national parks are getting high tech upgrades as part of a government plan to encourage working remotely. 

To coax more people away from their city offices and into the great outdoors, Japan’s Ministry of the Environment has been subsidising wifi installation in several of the country's biggest national parks and hot spring towns, so that people can jump onto a Zoom meeting from virtually anywhere. 

In June, the Nikkei Shinbun reported that the initiative could cover all 34 of Japan's national parks. The biggest ones – including Setonaikai, home to several Unesco-listed shrines and temples, and Aso-kuju, spanning Oita and Kumamoto prefectures – are already seeing an influx of 'workationers' who are game for a hike after their video conferences. 

It might seem a bit counterintuitive to continue clocking in when you’re on a remote getaway, but some Japanese companies are encouraging the so-called ‘workation’ as a way to boost both employee morale and domestic tourism. Most of us, after all, haven’t been on a holiday since our summer vacations got cancelled due to Covid-19 coronavirus

If you’re in doubt as to whether you’ll really be able to get on with work undisrupted, you might be surprised by the new amenities featured at some of the most remote holiday resorts around the country. Everything from private workstations to portable power banks are being supplied at Kyukamura Hotels, which are located in national parks across Japan, and companies like Hoshino Resorts have even started preparing to accommodate remote workers at ski lodges.

Of course, if you’re looking for a vacation in the traditional sense, there are loads of hotel packages being offered at a discount as part of the Go to Travel campaign.

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