[Channel47] The ‘Welcome to ONSEN’ Project Kicks Off, Aiming to Register Japanese Hot Spring Culture as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage


Channel 47, a project using entertainment to promote regional Japanese tourism and culture to the world, has started the Welcome to ONSEN Project. This new initiative aims to properly register Japanese hot spring culture as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Promoted by Channel47, the Welcome to ONSEN project hopes to make the word ‘onsen’ a household term around the globe. This year, the Japan Onsen Association and the Japan Ryokan and Hotel Association came together to establish the National Council for the Promotion of Onsen Culture as a UNESCO Intangible Culture Heritage. To date, 35 governors have joined the initiative, along with 120 Diet members. Activities have now begun, with the goal being to register Onsen Culture as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage by 2026.

To this end, a video has been released from the LOOK LOCAL SUMMIT ‘Welcome to ONSEN’ conference held at Amazon Music Studio Tokyo in Shibuya. The event was themed around the promotion of hot springs using popular entertainment.

Channel 47 will continue to work with the Japan Onsen Association, the Governors’ Association, and the Diet Members’ Caucus to promote the creation of content fostering both domestic and international promotion of onsen culture. Hot springs have been a vital part of Japanese life since ancient times, used to heal the body and soul. This initiative was sparked by the belief that onsen culture, something so unique to Japan, should be a source of pride, and that it should be properly shared with people all over the world.

LOOK LOCAL SUMMIT ‘Welcome to ONSEN’ Program

① Entertainment and Community Activation Opportunities #ART
Guests: Ryotaro Muramatsu (Director, NAKED Inc.), Yusuke Nakagawa (Director, ASOBISYSTEM / Representative, Channel47)

Ryotaro Muramatsu, the Director of NAKED Inc., has joined this event, bringing with him years of expertise in unique creative endeavors. NAKED is known for creating interactive art utilizing XR technology, the Metaverse, and NFTs, and Muramatsu has planned and directed countless events using new technology. Along with Yusuke Nakagawa, the pair will explore upcoming projects to revitalize local communities and promote tourism in smaller areas with a focus on hot spring resorts. Additionally, the two will discuss the possibilities and challenges of utilizing cutting-edge art to progress regional development.


② Entertainment and Community Activation Opportunities #AR
Guests: Tsuyoshi Abiko (Producer of Metaverse Business Development, Sony), Jungo Kanayama (Director, Channel47)

This event will feature a chat with Tsuyoshi Abiko, the producer of Locatone™, a Sound AR™ service that automatically plays audio and music when you approach a specific location. He’ll share his thoughts on how to create new attractions and make local towns and cities more fun by using AR. With a smartphone and headphones, anyone can turn the world into a theme park. How can Locatone™ help foster tourism and transform the travel experience?


③ ONSEN Lovers’ Symposium
Guests: UNA (DJ / Creative Director), MATCHA (DJ / Creative Director), Saki Shibata (Model / Talent), Marika Morita (MC)

Japanese hot springs, or onsen, are loved by men and women of all ages. During this event, three Gen-Z artists and TV personalities will come together to discuss why they love hot springs, the entertainment they’d like to experience while visiting an onsen, and their thoughts on promoting hot spring culture. The talk will focus on insights into the future of onsen culture, including the unique perspectives of younger generations and the cultural significance of onsen shared across all generations.


④ Regional Revitalization in the DX Era and the Global Dissemination of Japanese Culture
Guests: Karen Makishima (Former Minister of Digital Affairs, Digital Reform, and Administrative Reform), Yusuke Nakagawa (Director, ASOBISYSTEM / Representative, Channel47), Jungo Kanayama (Director, Channel47)

In recent years, the concept of ‘driving DX tourism’ has emerged. Former Minister of Digital Affairs and Reform Karen Makishima will take the stage to discuss the significance and specific examples of DX in the tourism industry, as well as its benefits and challenges. Additionally, the chat will discuss committee-proposed issues that every hot spring should address to further develop onsen culture. Using Hakone Onsen as a prime example, the panel hopes to communicate the vast appeal of Japanese hot spring culture to the world.