What's not to love about international travel? Experiencing the food, culture, and people from across the globe is a mind-blowing experience and meeting LGBTQ people in other countries shows us how far we've come (and how far we have to go). And for busy city dwellers, it offers a chance to unwind and find inspiration in other cultures.
After my last overseas trip, though, I was so tired and jetlagged that I quipped to my roommate that I needed an immediate wellness vacation to recover from my trip. You'll be surprised to discover that Japanese airline ANA has an answer for that. Instead of needing a wellness spa after your flight, ANA is actually bringing wellness on to the plane with you.
ANA creates a Japan you can't find on a map. One that combines some of the best elements of Japanese culture with modern technology to create a luxury experience at 30,000 feet in the sky.
Capturing the spirit of omotenashi, a definition-defying, uniquely Japanese term that means wholehearted care (without expectation of reciprocity), ANA defies all expectations of commercial travel. You get culinary creations, including sushi and Michelin-star sashimi cut in the Edomae tradition. Sake is poured in every cabin, not just first-class.
Every flight offers in-flight tech to help alleviate stress, 180-degree fully flat beds, top of the line bedding, and even cosmetic amenities. Whether you're traveling for work or leisure, the fully flat beds are a perfect solution to center your breathing and to ground all worries as you soar above the country's most beautiful landscapes. But it also comes with pajamas, eye masks, headphones, and an 18-inch monitor that both entertains and soothes you to sleep.
With 50 destination packages to choose from in Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, Myazski, Hakone, Ishigaki, Rishiri Island, Nagasaki, Sapporo, and Kanazawa, planning your stay is easier than ever -- whether you're looking for adventure, relaxation, or quality family time. Here are a few to add to your wish list.
Clear Your Mind at Amanemu Resort in Shima National Park
At Amanemu Resort in Shima National Park overlooking Ago Bay, the rustic ryokan-inspired retreat is where omotenashi is modernized. Surrounded by sacred forests, mineral-rich waters, and natural hot springs, soul searching is imminent in this secluded oasis. Visiting the holy Shinto site of Isle Grand Shrine or walking the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails invite you to take in the Kinki region's natural beauty and hold it forever.
Nothing will beat visiting Nyuto Onsen Village, one of the most famous hot springs in Japan. Enjoy the natural wonders of the forest in Senboku City, Akita Prefecture with seven independently-sourced baths scattered throughout the area. Don't forget to try the local cuisine -- including the fresh grilled fish, which is so good you might not want to leave.
Rediscover Yourself at Nishimuraya Honkan
Everyone deserves the experience of staying in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese guesthouse. My favorite has to be Nishumuraya Honkan, located west of Kyoto. Ryokans reflect a uniquely Japanese aesthetic with sliding doors, garden views, and a wide-open space to lounge and meditate. Nishumuraya Honkan modernizes the traditional design (with WiFi). Whether spring, summer, or snow, here you will discover the true meaning of inner peace -- so long as you put your phone away.
There's something for everyone when visiting Suizantei Club Jozankei, a secluded adults-only club with hot springs and a one-of-a-kind restaurant with gourmet meals located in Sapporo City, Hokkaidu. Whether you're traveling solo, with friends, or with a loved one, the intimate suites (with a traditional wood and paper design) push away anxieties from the outside world and encourage you to reflect.
For history buffs that also seek adventure, the city of Monomihigashi in Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima, offers one of the most breathtaking kayaking tours. Paddle up close to Itsukushima Shrine, the oldest pirate castle in Japan, and swim the haunting seas the Murakami Pirates roamed in medieval Japan.
This isn't your grandfather's karate. For lovers of martial arts, it's impossible not to make a stop at the Okinawa Karate Kaikan in Tomigusuku City. Okinawa is the birthplace of karate, and the renowned hall was established in March 2017 to inherit, preserve, and develop karate as Okinawan culture.
With state of the art tech marrying the best of Japanese hospitality traditions, ANA has become virtually synonymous with wellness travel. A flight on the world-renown airline to one of the country's amazing spas or mineral springs (or even the heart of downtown Tokyo for business) will ensure your journey is relaxing, reinvigorating, and sophisticated. This is Japan Elevated.