Danish Regenerative Tourism In Japan


As cities were in lock-down a mixed Danish and Japanese design team worked intensely on a sustainable tourism project located on the fringe on one of Japan’s most populated areas.

The project marks a new shift towards low impact regenerative tourism, that focuses on developing regions sustainably. The design team with Danish architects Third Nature, Japanese engineers Structured Environment and sustainability experts Henrik Innovation won the competition launched by the unconventional private-public cooperation between the outdoor company Nordisk and the city council of Inabe in Japan.

The new adventure park consists of three zones: an overnight section with cabins and platters for glamping tents, an area along the estuary where you can pitch your own tent, and a learning area in nature where the activities are at the center. In the middle of the plan, a larger center building is built. The building will house the reception, shop, and workshops and be a welcoming space for new guests. The site is a former camping ground at the foot of the mountains of Inabe. The site will be cleaned for old buildings and restored in the most sustainable way, using only renewable materials and repurposed building waste. The project is set to open in spring 2021.


The project marks a paradigm shift away from metropolitan culture and event tourism and towards a form of tourism that does not leave a lasting imprint in nature. Thereby it aligns with the increased global awareness of sustainable solutions. In addition to the permanent buildings, the park will consist of the characteristic luxurious and spacious Nordic cotton tents that the Japanese love and which are perfectly suited as semi-permanent buildings. They provide incredible proximity to nature without compromising comfort and space and without leaving a lasting imprint in nature.

The park is built in an area with several hiking routes, great diversity in the surrounding nature, picturesque landscapes, and a mountain of 1300 m, from which you have a view of the Pacific Ocean. The project aims to create a new type of sustainable tourism. The tourism sector is among the biggest culprits against the green transition because it is typically based on overconsumption and polluting modes of transport, leaving great imprints on nature. At the same time, however, it is an essential part of the economy of many societies and the foundation of many unskilled workplaces. Therefore, the solution must be found in changing tourism, not eliminating it.


Early civilizations in Denmark and Japan were founded in circular gatherings and were often centered around the appreciation of natural resources, fire, water, and food. The circle is also a universal shape that symbolizes equality, openness, and democracy. It has, therefore, become the core of the design-DNA itself that the group behind the project hopes to establish at the Ugakei Circle Site in Inabe.

“We believe the future is about circularity. Our proposal is composed of a family of circles that define a series of sustainable communities. The master plan and buildings embody a unique environment and a regenerative ‘hygge’ experience in nature. It is our hope that our project will become the base camp for a new type of regional nature-based development that promote sustainability awareness and brings the gift of nature to many urban dwellers.” – Flemming Rafn Thomsen, lead architect and Co-Founder of Third Nature.




Images with courtesy of Third Nature


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