(10:05 a.m. EDT) – Japan's ports are investing millions of dollars in upgrades and expansion in a bid to attract more cruise lines to the country.
The country's ports are gearing up for a significant increase in tourist numbers as a result of 2020's Olympics and Paralympics, which take place next summer across the country.
Japan has already seen significant increases in passenger numbers as a result of hosting this year's Rugby World Cup.
Some of the key developments are:
- Yokohama: The city's busiest port and the gateway to Tokyo has a newly opened cruise terminal, the Yokohama Hammerhead, to complement the existing terminal. It is visited by, amongst other ships, Royal Caribbean's first Quantum Ultra-class vessel, Spectrum of the Seas.
- Naha (Okinawa): Naha -- well served by flights from Tokyo, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong -- is aiming to become a turnaround port, rather than just a port of call. (Okinawa forms part of an archipelago which stretches deep into the Pacific from the southern tip of Japan.) The port is adding a second berth and developing a large scale cruise complex, which will include restaurants, hotels and shopping malls by 2021. The aim of welcoming 2 million cruise passengers by 2021.
- Kobe: World-famous for its beef of the same name, the port is trying to attract cruise passengers into the town center to sample its most famous product through small group shore excursions. Port plans include: installing new elevators in the terminal, refurbishing the escalators, more immigration booths and expanded bus parking at the terminal.
- Kagoshima: A small port on Japan's southernmost large island, Kyushu, Kagoshima is one of Japan's major historic ports. Ships from Europe have been coming here since the mid-1500s. The port now has more than 100 cruise ship visits a year, and that looks set to increase, with Cunard calling there in October 2020.
The must-see site is the house and gardens of Sengan-en, a UNESCO World Heritage Site related to the Meiji Period Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century, which has recently had a $10 million renovation.There are also plans to build a new train station outside Sengan-en in cooperation with the railway line, making it easier for passengers to visit from the port in Kagoshima.