Cruise ports in Japan have been bustling with foreign ships and travelers amid robust demand which prompted the development of brand new tour services combining ocean cruises with rail or air travel.
In 2016, a total of 1.99 million tourists arrived via cruise liners, up 78.5% from 2015. According to the transport ministry, the government is now aiming to boost the figure up to 5 million in 2020.
The most popular stop-off point for vessels from abroad is Kyushu. In 2016, cruise liners made 715 port visits there, which is a sixfold increase from 2013. Around 1.94M tourists entered Japan through ports Kyushu during the year, surpassing all arrivals at airports. The majority of the passengers were from China, due to the geographical proximity of the region.
To accommodate the soaring cruise ship numbers, Kyushu ports made such efforts as building new terminals and expanding quays.
Another popular destination in Japan is Yokohama, ranked as the top destination for port visits in the country for over a decade through 2014. Port Hakata, Fukuoka Prefecture rose to the list's top in 2015-2016, but Yokohama bounced back with a new record last year.
The municipal government attributed the popularity of the port to a service called “Fly & Cruise,” where travelers fly to nearby Haneda airport and board a cruise ship out of Yokohama.
The cruise port in the city opened in 1859 as the first modern international trading port in Japan. It boasts the most port visits by domestic ships.