Accessible travel destinations once again showed up big at this year’s Japan Travel Awards, with a universal marine sports facility crowning the top prize and an accessible hotel winning the Best Accessible Travel award. A Best Destination Development award went to an organization promoting accessible travel in Nagano Prefecture.

This year’s Grand Prix went to Zerogravity, a marine sports facility and accommodation in Kagoshima’s Amami Oshima. What caught our eye about Zerogravity was that they are changing what is often considered an entirely inaccessible part of the tourism industry – marine sports. A good example of their efforts is that wheelchair users and those with impaired mobility can scuba dive with a tandem diver, getting to the water on a fully accessible boat. This continued effort to welcome travelers with physical disabilities extends across the board, with an accessible pool, accommodation, whale-watching tours, and countless other aspects of their facility. Zerogravity is a destination that proves that nothing is impossible, a place where everyone can enjoy together.

Two divers in the ocean at Zerogravity


Naniwa Issui in Shimane’s Matsue was chosen for Best Accessible Travel for their dedication to overcoming physical, social, and dietary barriers and making their accommodation more accessible to a wider audience. Despite having a long history, being founded in 1918, Naniwa Issui is not encumbered by outdated ideas of tradition. As well as steadily increasing their number of accessible rooms, they implement a range of creative solutions to different disabilities, including different scents per floor to help the visually impaired.


A transfer chair for the hot spring bath at Naniwa Issui

The Togakushi Universal Tourism Desk, a section within Nagano Prefecture’s Togakushi Tourism Bureau specializing in promoting universal tourism in Togakushi, won the Best Destination Development Award. The Desk was chosen for their efforts to provide a diverse range of rental wheelchairs, ski and accommodation equipment for travelers with physical disabilities, and for their compilation of barrier-free travel maps, among other local intiatives to boost universal tourism. Togakushi is a beautiful area known for its ancient pilgrim routes and winter sports activities.

A group of travelers, including one in a wheelchair, walk down a path through an ancient forest in Togakushi Japan


The Japan Travel Awards was founded in 2021 to discover and celebrate destinations in Japan that promote diversity, inclusion and sustainability in Japan’s travel sector. This year saw a record-high total of 163 entries from across Japan, with 10 businesses and organizations winning 11 awards in the following categories:

  • Best Accessible Travel
  • Best LGBTQ+ Travel
  • Best Sustainable Travel
  • Best Inbound Travel
  • Best Cultural Travel
  • Best Family Travel
  • Best Transformative Travel
  • Best Destination Development
  • Best Accommodation

And finally, the Grand Prix for overall travel experience. (See all winners here!)

Seeing these dedicated entrants around Japan with such creative approaches to accessible tourism shows that the industry is making interesting progress every day. We are excited to see what next year brings!

A huge congratulations to all the winners this year!

To everyone reading this, please consider visiting Matsue, Amami Oshima, and Togakushi, the areas home to these wonderful facilities.

Visit Naniwa Issui:
Visit Zerogravity:
Visit Togakushi Universal Desk:

Learn more about the Japan Travel Awards here.

By Japan Travel Awards

Categories: News


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