Global Wellness Institute: Japan is the latest country added to its “Geography of Wellness”

 Wednesday, September 6, 2023 


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The Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the leading nonprofit organisation dedicated to research and education in the global wellness industry, through a partnership with Conceptasia and Fukui Wellness Collaboration, is pleased to announce that Japan, the world’s 3rd largest wellness economy ($303 billion), has been added to the growing number of countries featured on the organization’s Geography of Wellness, a platform created to offer more visibility into a country’s distinct wellness assets.

“The Geography of Wellness paints a robust picture, on a country-by-country basis, of how wellness businesses and activities can impact the overall economy,” said Susie Ellis, GWI chair and CEO.

Partnerships with the likes of Conceptasia enable their researchers to take a deeper dive into a specific country’s wellness economy data.

Wellness is deeply embedded in Japan’s DNA from its culture of healthful eating, to its focus on both public health investment and traditional and complementary medicine, Japan is an amazing example of a sustainable, strong wellness economy.

The country is well-known for having one of the longest life expectancy rates in the world.

The ancient customs of Japan heavily inspire their wellness culture today, said Yoriko Soma, CEO of Conceptasia, a Tokyo-based company serving the spa, wellness and beauty industry.

“Our appreciation of nature, and traditions like Onsen and forest bathing, hiking and trekking, plus our nation’s general culture of cleanliness, our attitude towards healthful food, and focus on martial arts based firmly in the Zen mindset, can all be experienced and enjoyed today in Japan.”

A Unique Wellness Landscape

Japan is steeped in rich wellness traditions enhanced by a natural environment that encourages living well in its many forms.

The vast majority of the country is comprised of mountains and forests, encouraging outdoor activities like hiking and mushroom foraging. When the Japanese government coined the term “forest bathing” in the early 1980s, the world rediscovered Japan’s vast wellness resources and its philosophy towards living.

Ceremonies like Kado (flower arrangement) and Sado (tea ceremony) originate from Zen, and visitors are encouraged to take a step back and appreciate both the moment and the act itself.

The concept of what makes a life worth living – Ikigai – along with a lifestyle of healthy eating, natural physical activity and social connections, have been credited for the longevity of the centenarians in Japan’s Blue Zone.

Japan is recognized as a country whose culture defines wellness, from nature-based travel to fresh, unmodified food eaten with mindfulness and appreciation.

Even Japan’s “fast food” is different from that of other countries and many chains serve nutrient-dense, healthy meals for those who don’t have time to cook. Most restaurants, from five-star establishments to local “finds,” serve fresh fish, meat and vegetables, making every meal a wellness experience.

For the plant-based inclined, there is Shojin Ryori, a vegan cuisine based on the diet of Buddhist monks dating to the sixth century, which incorporates soybean-based foods and seasonal vegetables, wild mountain plants and nuts.

It employs two “rules of five”: five colors (green, red, yellow, black and white) and five flavors (sweet, sour, salty, umami and bitter).

This encourages contemplation and appreciation, while promoting balance of the body, mind and spirit.

J-Beauty is well established with internationally renowned and innovative companies that leverage Japan’s beauty traditions, combined with the latest technology, to create products that emphasize natural, functional, nontoxic, sustainable ingredients, for better skin, sun protection and anti-aging.

Japan has one of the most successful wellness economies in the world, and ranks in the top five in every wellness sector measured.

Growth opportunities include wellness real estate, which grew from $2.5 billion in 2017 to $11.5 billion in 2020.

The country’s wellness tourism economy is also robust with an impressive total of 33.8 million wellness trips recorded, both inbound and domestic, with Japan’s rich thermal and mineral springs playing a strong role.

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