10 Things To Look Forward To In Japan This Year

Another year has been and gone and its ups and downs feel like a distant memory by now. But rather dwell on what was, let’s dive head-first into all the excitement that awaits. As the city gears up for the 2020 Olympics and a new Emperor arrives on the scene, 2019 is set to be a big year in Japan. While this is by no means the full list, here are ten milestones taking place in Japan that will most likely make our year slightly more memorable, more exciting and certainly busier. 

1. The grand opening of Moomin Valley Park

This March, Japan’s favorite Finnish-hippo-esque creatures, the Moomins, will have their very own outpost, nestled in the foliage dense Hanno city, Saitama. Named Moomin Valley Park, the facility will be a family-friendly affair, with major attractions torn straight from the original storybooks. Expect recreations of the iconic Moomin lighthouse and quaint bathhouse on the pier, as well as a large a large exhibition facility Kokemus (Finnish for “experience”) covering all facets of the making of and stories about the Moomins. For all the up to date info, visit the Metsa Hanno website.

Opens: 16 March, 2019
Where: 327-6 Miyazawa, Hanno-shi, Saitama

2. Starbucks levels up with its Japan-first “Reserve Roastery”

Your caffeine hit is going to get a whole lot swankier thanks to the coffee company that needs no introduction. Starbucks announced they’ll be opening their Kengo Kuma-designed multi-level “Reserve Roastery” in the trendy neighborhood of Nakameguro, an area very familiar with the upmarket coffee culture.

Staffed with master roasters, mixologists and baristas, this will be the company’s fifth roastery in the world (and very first in Japan), with others located in Seattle, New York, Shanghai, and Milan. Regarding what exactly to expect, you may have to wait until its February opening for the full picture however, the roastery in Shanghai features a VR Willy Wonka Experience, so you can probably expect it to get a little experimental.

Date: 28 February, 2019
Where: Nakameguro, Aobadai 2-chome (along the Meguro River)

3. The grand reopening of Tokyo’s Museum of Contemporary Art

Katsura Yuki, Resistance, 1952. From “Weavers of Worlds – A Century of Flux in Japanese Modern / Contemporary Art”

Once home to works by names like Yoko Ono, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol, the return of the Museum of Contemporary Art is without a doubt one of the most highly anticipated events on the 2019 art calendar.

The space has been out of action since May 2016 due to renovations, the first of its kind since opening back in 1995. To celebrate its makeover, the gallery will

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