Meetings with a quirk: Unusual venues in Japan for business events

Nagoya Castle is one of Japan’s national treasures. Pic: cowardlion/Shutterstock

JAPAN is a popular corporate travel destination; an estimated 138,137 international visitors entered the country for business purposes in July alone, an increase of 5.2 percent on July 2015.

Last year, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) launched an initiative to further promote the country as a significant MICE tourism player, publishing a comprehensive list of “unique venues” for private event hire on their website.

The JNTO’s Meetings and Incentives Programme makes event planning far easier and streamlines the booking process for venue hire. This is likely to provide considerable appeal to organizers and travel agencies and may increase the demand for these unique MICE facilities in the future.

But this initiative is more than just a promotional activity to encourage corporate tourism. It generates sustainable revenues which can be used to protect and restore these historical landmarks and stimulate development and innovation in modern venues also.

Earlier this month it was announced that two further UNESCO World Heritage Sites would open their doors to MICE users. Sengan-en in Kagoshima and Katsuren Castle in Okinawa are now available alongside temples, traditional gardens, museums, theaters and a number of other options.

Nagoya Castle, Nagoya

Pic: cowardlion/Shutterstock

Renowned for its heritage and kinshachi (golden dolphins), Nagoya Castle is one of Japan’s national treasures. Although the Ninomaru Palace has long since gone, the site on which it once stood can be hired for outdoor events.

The area, which is a short walk from the striking Donjon, is surrounded by Japanese dry landscape Ninomaru gardens. With many original features like the East Iron Gate still in situ; it is easy to see why the grounds are highly sought by MICE organizers.

Oita Bank Dome, Matsuoka, Oita

Pic: Japan Times

Although best known for hosting several 2002 FIFA World Cup Games, the Oita Bank Dome is also an ideal MICE venue having been carefully designed by Kisho Kurokawa for multipurpose, year-round use.

The spherical stadium with its retractable roof can be hired for large-scale events for up to 40,000 attendees. So too can the extensive foyer which can accommodate up to 10,000 people.

A number of conference and meeting rooms are also available, and the lawn square provides additional space for outdoor events and exhibitions.

Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, Yokohama

Pic: Blog Do Hideo

Located on an artificial island, Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise is one of Japan’s largest marine attractions.

It offers MICE organizers two extraordinary venue options, the Aqua Museum and Dolphin Fantasy Aquarium. The private hire areas provide an inimitable ambiance for small-scale events for between 80 and 200 people.

Yagoto Koshoji Temple, Nagoya

Pic: Yevgen Pogoryelov/flickr

A short distance from the Nagoya Castle is the 17th century Koshoji. A site of immense beauty, it is imbued with Japanese culture and tradition and features a remarkable five-storey pagoda and huge Buddha statue.

The Oosyoin area of this Shingon Buddhist temple is now available for small-scale MICE events for up to 120 people.

Tokyo City View Observation Deck, Tokyo

Pic: Yong Thye/flickr

Located on the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills is the Tokyo City View Observation Deck. It provides breathtaking panoramic views of the city’s skyline from its modern indoor observation gallery, one of its principal MICE facilities.

Offering roughly 733 square meters of versatile space, it is suitable for 1,000 standing guests. The three atriums and Moon Restaurant can also be hired individually for smaller events for between 50 and 100 people.

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