Japan is experiencing unprecedented popularity among foreign tourists. Since last year, the archipelago has enjoyed a record number of visitors, particularly from China, but also from the USA and Europe. All are keen to take advantage of a national currency – the yen – at its lowest level for 40 years. A situation that is stimulating the purchase of luxury goods… but for how long?

 

Japan’s national currency, the yen, is at its lowest level since 1986, the year that saw the start of four years of economic bubbles in the country. These are the findings of Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

 

While the exchange rate is proving unfavorable for household consumption in Japan, it is a boon for tourists, particularly Americans, who are attracted to the archipelago by the strong dollar and particularly attractive prices for luxury goods.

 

For their part, Asian tourists, most of whom had postponed their trip because of the pandemic, are now back in the Land of the Rising Sun. In fact, since October 2023, Japan has seen its monthly visitor volume return to pre-pandemic levels.

 

Hermès made no mistake, inaugurating a freshly renovated flagship in the Mitsukoshi Ginza department store last month.

 

Record attendance

 

The month of March, the “Hanami” period, highly Instagrammable due to its cherry blossom trees, saw a new record for tourist numbers, with 3 million visitors in a single month: the highest ever!

 

In its quarterly report, Bain & Company reports a 15-fold increase in tourist flows to the country compared with 2019. A phenomenon made possible by the arrival of new nationalities, particularly Americans and Europeans. The latter will join the ranks of traditional Asian visitors (Chinese, Hong Kongers, Taiwanese, Koreans, Thais, Singaporeans and Vietnamese), most of whom had previously postponed their trips due to Covid-19.

 

In addition to the Japan Mania that is sweeping the world via social networks and the massive export of various cultural products (manga, anime, cuisine…), the lifting of Covid-related restrictions and low prices are maintaining the popularity of Japan as a destination.

 

According to Luxurynsight, duty-free prices in Japan vis-à-vis China fell from -18% in June 2023 to -24% a year later, while prices at certain luxury brands dropped by -27%. In response to this market dynamic, some Maisons have chosen toadjust their prices in order to optimize their margins.

 

In 2023, tourists spent six times more than in 2022, according to Japan’s National Tourism Organization. That’s 5.3 trillion yen (32.7 billion euros), exceeding the previous record of 4.8 trillion yen set in 2019.

 

Festive luxury

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Victor Gosselin
Victor Gosselin is a journalist specializing in luxury, HR, tech, retail, and editorial consulting. A graduate of EIML Paris, he has been working in the luxury industry for 9 years. Fond of fashion, Asia, history, and long format, this ex-Welcome To The Jungle and Time To Disrupt likes to analyze the news from a sociological and cultural angle.

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