Search for Tourist Attractions Visited by Overseas Visitors


Do you know about Arakura Fuji Sengen-jinja Shrine near Lake Kawaguchi in Yamanashi Prefecture? Many foreign travelers visit, as it is a tourist spot where they can capture the famous Japanese sights of Mount Fuji, a five-storied pagoda, and cherry blossoms in one photograph. This shrine has recently become famous as a tourist spot popular among foreign travelers, but in actuality, it was not originally well-known by Japanese, and it is a tourist spot that GPS data revealed was being visited by foreign travelers.

In this way, even sites that Japanese or people from the region do not realize are tourist attractions at first may hold the potential to become appealing tourist attractions for foreign travelers.

1 km Mesh Heat Map of Lake Kawaguchi Area (All Nationalities)

This column has the theme of " Search for Tourist Attractions Visited by Overseas Visitors," and will provide examples of using data to investigate sites being visited by foreign travelers while looking at heat map data that reveals visiting locations.

*The data used in this column is from November of 2019 and after, but as a result of COVID-19, travel restrictions have been placed on overseas travel in many countries from March of 2020. Accordingly, data figures from March of 2020 until now are reference values. The results provided in this column indicate trends in winter of fiscal 2019. (The data is current as of January of 2021)

Nikko, Also Popular Among Foreign Travelers: Repeat Visitors Also Visit Places Such as Kinugawa or Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura

Taking Tochigi Prefecture as an example, we looked into visiting locations.

Dashboard, "Stay Heat Map by Municipality" (Tochigi Prefecture: All Nationalities)

First, looking at sites visited by foreign travelers by municipality, it was found that visits were concentrated in Nikko, which is also highly familiar to Japanese as a tourist spot. Thus, focusing on Nikko, we looked into how far foreign travelers had ventured in terms of the many tourist attractions in Nikko.

Incidentally, while there were not many visitors compared to Nikko, Ashikaga is also visited by foreign travelers. They visited Ashikaga Flower Park, which is popular not only for its seasonal plants but also for its winter illumination.

Dashboard, " Stay Heat Map by Mesh"
(Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture: First-Time Visitors to Japan)

Dashboard, "Stay Heat Map by Mesh" (Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture: Repeat Visitors)

We compared differences in travel destinations based on whether travelers had visited Japan before.

First, a common point is that the most visited area in Nikko is around Nikko Station, and the most visited tourist facilities are around Nikko Toshogu Shrine. Visits were not limited to the Nikko Station area, however: visitors traveled further out, and it can be seen that some have even stopped by Kegon-no-Taki Falls and Lake Chuzenji.

Focusing on repeat visitors, they have also made their way toward Kinugawa, with visits not only to Kinugawa Onsen, but also to Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura. It can be presumed that visits to the Shimo-Imaichi Station area were seen because this area is the branching point between the Nikko direction and the Kinugawa direction, so people stopped there while waiting for trains.

Dashboard, "Heat Map of Visits by Mesh" (Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture: Nighttime (6:00 PM to 5:59 AM))

Looking at only nighttime (6:00 PM to 5:59 AM) data, Nikko is easily accessible from Tokyo and there are many one-day travelers, but we also saw indications that travelers were staying at accommodations near Nikko Station.

Full Enjoyment of Tourism in the Sapporo Area Also, Including Nature, Shopping, Food and Drink, and Illumination Events

Dashboard, "Stay Heat Map by Municipality" (Hokkaido: All Nationalities)

Hokkaido has various tourist attractions spread throughout spots around the prefecture, but in terms of visiting destinations for foreign travelers, the Central Hokkaido area, centered on Sapporo, is the most popular. Within this area, Sapporo serves as a travel hub within the vast region of Hokkaido, and also has many tourist spots. In this column, we will explore visiting locations in the Sapporo area.

Dashboard, "Stay Heat Map by Mesh" (Sapporo Area: All Time Periods)

Dashboard, "Stay Heat Map by Mesh" (Sapporo Area: Nighttime (6:00 PM to 5:59 AM))

While people are concentrated in the Sapporo Station area, it can be seen that there are places being visited even in locations a bit separated from Sapporo Station. Comparing this with the locations of specific tourist facilities, we can see that travelers have made their way to Historical Village of Hokkaido, an open-air museum of relocated and restored historical buildings in Hokkaido; Mt. Moiwa, which offers a panoramic view of the Sapporo cityscape; Sapporo Central Wholesale Market, where visitors can eat fresh seafood; and the outlet mall in Kitahiroshima, next to Sapporo.

Further, looking only at data obtained at night (6:00 PM to 5:59 AM), we can see visits to Jozankei Onsen and areas with accommodation facilities, and it was also learned that there are visits to Shiroi Koibito Park, which holds an illumination event every year.

In this way, we can see that Sapporo is not only used as a transportation hub, but also enjoyed by travelers as a city with lots of tourist spots.


In this column, we used data to explore locations that are actually visited. As explained in the examples, being able to learn about locations that have been visited with the granularity of specific tourist facilities is a strength of GPS data. Finding information about locations that foreign travelers have actually visited among tourist attractions in a region is extremely valuable. In addition, making tourism at these tourist attractions easier through the development of secondary transportation can also lead to expanded consumption in such regions.

Please take a look at regional data with a focus on attributes and the time periods of visits as well.

Reference: Data used for this column

Bonus: What are the attributes of people who stay at accommodations in Tochigi Prefecture and Hokkaido?

On the Japan Tourism Statistics website, you can see data about the accumulated number of foreign national guests at accommodations by prefecture. Would you guess there were differences in the attributes of such guests at accommodations in Tochigi Prefecture and Hokkaido, the prefectures explored on this occasion?

Looking at the accumulated number of foreign national guests at accommodations by prefecture in 2019, the top four nationalities of guests in Tochigi Prefecture, being Taiwanese, Chinese, American, and Thai, accounted for about 53% of the total. On the other hand, the top four nationalities of guests in Hokkaido were Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, and Hong Kongese, meaning travelers from East Asia alone account for about 68% of the total and indicating that the market is mainly East Asians.

Even in cases of similar tourist attractions, the foreign travelers who visit differ depending on whether there are direct flights, the ease of access from national entry/departure hubs, and so forth. In addition to looking into the attributes of the travelers visiting each location, it is important to grasp the flows of trips in Japan as well.