Oct. 11 saw it all: reunions with family and significant others at Narita Airport, wide-eyed travelers touching down, entrepreneurs anxious to get opportunities going in the Far East. After a full two and a half years, Japan is open again.

Pre-pandemic, Japan saw a record 31.8 million tourists in 2019, a number that plunged to just 250,000 in 2021. Government officials and industry insiders say that the restart is and will continue to be slow, with tourist spending not projected to exceed pre-pandemic levels until 2025. But the border reopening also sets the stage for adventure travel — a rising form of tourism that dives deep into nature and culture while putting travelers into positions where they can interact with local communities — to bring real benefits to towns and businesses across the nation.

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