PERSONAL TRAVEL MANAGER | TOWNSVILLE
TRAVEL MANAGERS AUSTRALIA
Being a unique country in east Asia like no other and with so much to offer, Japan has become a very popular holiday destination amongst travellers. Its mix of old and new will astound you. And with its old school culture, fresh cuisine, thrilling city stays, world class skiing and relaxing hot springs, it’s no wonder the Land of the Rising Sun shines.
How to get there
Without a doubt, the Jetstar direct flights from Cairns is the most common way to travel to Japan. Currently the flights from Cairns to Tokyo return operate six times per week. The flights from Cairns to Osaka return operate five times per week. Each flight is a mere 7 hour and 30 minutes in duration. If required, there are also connecting flights from Townsville to Cairns return. There are many internal Japan flights and rail travel is a very typical form of transportation in and between cities.
When to go
When to visit Japan depends on your requirements. Hitting the ski slopes is right on trend at the moment. Niseko, located in the north most island of Hokkaido, has some of the best ski slopes in the world. To take full advantage of the best powder, travel between late December to mid-March. Cherry Blossom season, known as sakura, is another favourite time for visitors to Japan. It’s always best to check the Cherry Blossom season prior to booking as it can differ each year and in different parts of the country. If your plan is to relish the countryside, it would be best to travel between April to May or September to October when it’s not so hot. In general, Japan has four distinct seasons, opposite to Australia, but keep in mind that temperatures drop the more north you travel.
Where to stay
My five favourite areas to stay are; Tokyo – the thriving metropolis of Japan. Its quirky personality and anything goes attitude will leave your jaw dragging on the floor. Enjoy a coffee surrounded by cats at a cat café, visit the Trick Art Museum, where you can pretend to be chased by sharks or trapped in Dracula’s wine glass or simply make a purchase at a vending machine, such as flowers, an umbrella or a toasted sandwich if you are feeling hungry. For a more cultural experience, head to Kyoto. Stay in a Ryokan – a traditional Japanese inn. Visit some of the many shrines and temples, for example, Fushimi Inari-taisa, a Shinto shrine with striking famed gates. To immerse yourself in natural beauty, make the trip to Miyajima (Hiroshima), one of the most scenic areas of Japan. Take pictures of the giant torii gate, which at high tide seems to float on the water. This area is great for peace and tranquility. Hakuba is a good option for those who want to ski but don’t want to travel by air, as it’s about a four-hour train ride from Tokyo. Not as populated as Niseko, Hakuba is a smaller ski area, however, still has a village feel. For different scenery and amazing views, consider a stay at Mount Fuji. Being an active volcano and Japan’s highest mountain, its best viewed during the colder months.
What to do
My top five things to do in Japan are; Sumo, a form of heavyweight wrestling, is a must. The tournaments are held during the odd months and last for 2 weeks at a time, in various locations around Japan. A traditional Tea Ceremony – the choreographic ceremony of preparing and serving green tea, together with Japanese sweets, to balance the bitter taste, is a pleasant tradition to witness. Tokyo Disney Resort and Tokyo DisneySea, are great options for families. Located about 30 kilometres east of Tokyo city, these Disney Resorts will keep children entertained for a whole day. Relax at an onsen, one of the many hot springs scattered throughout Japan. Check out Golden Gai in Shinjuku, a neighbourhood that squeezes over 200 miniature bars in a network of six alleys – definitely an eye opener!
Contrary to what some think, Japanese cuisine is not just about sushi and raw fish, i.e. sashimi. Chicken Teriyaki is always a crowd pleaser with its sweet marinade. Yaki udon, which is essentially stir fried noodles with meat and vegetables tends to hit the spot. For something on the lighter side, try vegetable or seafood tempura – lightly battered and flash fried to perfection. Being a savoury dish, Japanese pancake, aka, okonomiyaki, can be eaten any time of the day – very tasty indeed. Don’t forget to try some sake, Japan’s traditional rice wine. Kanpai!