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Eastern promise

New data from the GWI names Japan the world’s third highest performing wellness economy

Published in Spa Business 2023 issue 3
Japan has around 30,000 hot spring inns known as ryokans / photo: shutterstock/K-Angle
Japan has around 30,000 hot spring inns known as ryokans/ photo: shutterstock/K-Angle

Japan’s wellness economy is worth US$303 billion (€283 billion, £242.6 billion) which makes it one of the most successful in the world, trumped only by the US at US$1.2 trillion (€1.1 trillion, £994.3 billion) and China at US$683 billion, (€637.4 billion, £546.3 billion).

This is based on data that’s just been revealed by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI). It focuses on 12 sub-sectors that GWI uses to measure the US$4.4 trillion (€4.1 trillion, £3.6 trillion) global wellness economy.

Sub-sector rankings
The country’s three most lucrative wellness markets include personal care and beauty (US$105.9 billion, €98.8 billion, £84.7 billion), healthy eating (US$70.1 billion, €65.4 billion, £56.1 billion) and physical activity (US$41 billion, €38.2 billion, £32.8 billion).

Wellness real estate is one of the fastest-moving markets. It grew from US$2.5 billion (€2.3 billion, £2 billion) in 2017 to US$11.5 billion (€10.7 billion, £9.2 billion) in 2020.

Meanwhile, spa-related markets come lower down the rankings. Traditional and complementary medicine in Japan is valued at US$16.7 billion (€15.5 billion, £13.3 billion), thermal and mineral springs at US$9.2 billion (€8.5 billion), £7.4 billion) and spas at US$4.2 billion (€3.9 billion, £3.4 billion).

Geography of wellness
The new data came to light after the GWI added Japan to its Geography of Wellness website. Launched last year, the platform gives a deep dive into a country’s distinctive wellness assets.

Other nations featured include Brazil, Singapore, Thailand, the UK, the US and Indonesia.

“Japan is an amazing example of a sustainable, strong wellness economy,” says Susie Ellis, GWI chair and CEO.

GWI partnered with Conceptasia and Fukui Wellness Collaboration to unveil the findings.

“Japan’s ancient customs heavily inspire our wellness culture today,” explains Yoriko Soma, CEO of Conceptasia. “These include onsen and forest bathing, hiking, a culture of cleanliness, a healthful diet and focus on martial arts based in the Zen mindset.”

photo: Yorika Soma

"Japan’s ancient customs heavily inspire our wellness culture today" – Yorika Soma

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