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Travel & Leisure

Japan welcomes a flood of foreign tourists with a new nature theme park in Okinawa

"Explore the allure of Okinawa's new nature wonderland, Junglia! Unveiling in 2025, it promises air balloon tours, zip lines, and a dinosaur-themed adventure.

“Junglia: Okinawa’s New Nature-Themed Wonderland Beckons a Surge of Global Tourists”

In a bid to capitalize on the post-pandemic surge in global tourism, Japan is set to welcome a wave of visitors with the unveiling of a nature-themed amusement park on the enchanting southern island of Okinawa. The brainchild of former Proctor & Gamble executive Tsuyoshi Morioka, the park, named ‘Junglia,’ is poised to open its gates in 2025, offering an immersive experience in the UNESCO World Nature Heritage registered forest of Yanbaru.

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Embracing Nature’s Grandeur

Spanning an expansive 60 hectares (148 acres), Junglia is more than just an amusement park; it’s a celebration of Okinawa’s rich natural beauty. Nestled by the subtropical mangrove forest, the park promises a diverse array of attractions, from breathtaking air balloon tours and exhilarating zip lines to a captivating dinosaur-themed area. Visitors can unwind in an infinity spa or savour delectable cuisine at outdoor restaurants, all set against the backdrop of Yanbaru’s untouched tropical paradise.

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Morioka’s Vision: Luxury in Nature

Tsuyoshi Morioka, renowned for transforming Universal Studios Japan with groundbreaking attractions like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, envisions Junglia as a haven for those seeking luxury in the heart of nature. With a whopping ¥70 billion ($470 million) invested in the project, Morioka aims to leverage the pristine tropical forest, offering visitors a taste of authentic luxury that contrasts with the hustle and bustle of urban life. At a Tokyo briefing, Morioka expressed his hope that Junglia would catalyze increased investment in Okinawa, positioning it as a premier destination for both domestic and foreign tourists.

Riding the Tourism Wave

The announcement of Junglia comes at a time when Japan is experiencing a resurgence in foreign visitors, with October witnessing over 2.5 million arrivals — surpassing pre-pandemic figures. The weak yen has played a pivotal role in bolstering the country’s tourism industry, turning inbound tourism into a beacon of hope amid Japan’s patchy recovery. Morioka’s venture, Katana Inc., a marketing and entertainment company, aims to capitalize on this momentum, having successfully revamped other theme parks across Japan.

Beyond Junglia: A Portfolio of Unique Attractions

Morioka’s Katana Inc. has left its mark on various theme parks, including the Dutch-inspired Huis Ten Bosche and the retro-themed Seibuen Amusement Park. Not stopping there, Morioka is set to launch “Immersive Fort Tokyo” in the capital next spring, promising visitors a plunge into fictional scenarios, from murder mysteries to treasure hunts.

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Japan’s Theme Park Landscape

With Tokyo Disney Resorts and Universal Studios Japan ranking among the top five most-visited amusement and theme parks globally in 2022, Japan’s allure in the entertainment realm remains unwavering. According to a report by infrastructure consulting firm AECOM and the Themed Entertainment Association, these iconic parks continue to attract over 10 million visitors annually, showcasing the nation’s prominence in the world of theme park experiences. As Junglia joins the ranks, it is poised to elevate Japan’s status as a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

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