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Central Japan: Toyama, Nagano & Gifu


Central Japan’s different prefectures collectively share some of Japan’s oldest cultures and traditions.

Cutting through the region is the long-extinct Nakasendo roadway, which once connected Edo (the historic name for Tokyo) and Kyoto, the old imperial capital of Japan, leaving behind a number of old restored postal towns in Nagano and Gifu prefectures that are frozen in a bygone era. Another long-living tradition thrives in Gifu prefecture’s Shirakawa-Go, a World Heritage site with nearly a thousand years of history, and home to residents who claim the first samurai to ever cross swords were from their region.

Cutting across the Central Japan region is the Kurobe River – the lifeline of the region’s high-quality agricultural produce including its renowned wasabi, sake, and even wine. It also cuts a spectacular visual feast for travellers along the famed Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route in Toyama prefecture.

Together, Toyama, Nagano and Gifu offer travellers a wealth of natural wonders, unique seafood, and many stunning cultural sites, making them a perfect alternative to the bright lights of Tokyo.

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Japan’s funny icons for travellers

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As Japan prepares itself for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, many prefectures are trying to lure visitors to places other than tourist magnets like Tokyo and Kyoto. Iwate prefecture, situated to the north of Tokyo, has turned to humour to lure non-Japanese speaking visitors by publicising a set of comical illustrations as a cheeky guide to Japanese customs.

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Travel Destinations Based on Feng Shui Elements


With Chinese New Year comes the re-emergence of frenzied zodiac readings and auspicious Feng Shui guides for luck and happiness. Looking to travel to get away from it all? Why not match your destinations to Chinese elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Wood, and Metal) – who knows, it may bring some good luck!

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Super Mario at Rio Olympics: It’s PM Shinzo Abe!


In what is perhaps the most bizarre post-Olympic closing ceremony ever, viewers got to see a teaser of things to come for Tokyo 2020: Mario (yes, of Super Mario Bros) actually made an appearance in an official ceremony.

At the closing video presentation, the Tokyo 2020 beamed a telecast to audiences in Rio depicting the mustached hero running around Tokyo before jumping into a green pipe.

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Travellers Wanted


What’s your perfect summer holiday destination? Are you the type who loves to spend solitary time getting lost in the great outdoors? Or are you the type who loves to gather your friends for a cycling adventure? Are you more of a town & country traveller, a wide-eyed adventurer or both?

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Nagano Sake Sojourn

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If you enjoy a tipple of Japanese sake, then you’ll appreciate the fact that the depth of sake goes far deeper than the staple ‘karakuchi’ labels that you get at your favourite restaurant.

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The Ultimate Road Ride: Shimanami Kaido


Part of the Shimanami Kaido

The Shimanami Kaido – the expressway that spans the Seto Inland Sea – stretches from Imabari (in Ehime prefecture) to Onomichi (in Hiroshima prefecture), crossing no less than 6 islands (and its small towns) along the way. The route has been voted as one of the world’s most incredible bike routes by CNN.

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Late season skiing: Hokkaido

It may be March in Japan, but while most people are on the lookout for pink blooms of cherry blossoms (the sign of spring), Hokkaido is still very much in ski season. The ski resorts here are still deep in powder, but what it doesn’t have now are the crowds and prices usually associated with the classic ‘ski season’.


Road through Niseko

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Lakeside Camping: Kussharo-ko, Hokkaido

Lake Kussharo at dawn

As a vast island, Hokkaido has a lot to offer those who love the outdoors – we’re not just talking about its ski resorts in Niseko or its flower fields in Furano either.

Akan National Park is a popular area with its cluster of three lakes – Kussharo, Akan and Mashu – each with its own attraction. Lake Kussharo (or Kussharo-ko) is the largest of the three and has something the other two don’t: hot spring that bubbles out of the very shores of the lake.

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Minakami: Wet and Wild

Ski slopes at Tanigawa

Located just north of Tokyo, Gunma prefecture is largely known for its mountainous scenery and plentiful hot spring. While Kusatsu (also in Gunma) may be one of Japan’s most famous hot spring towns, head further north to Minakami Onsen if you prefer add outdoor adventure to your usual soak.

Minakami has, in recent years, invented itself as more than just another hot spring destination. In winter, hot spring visitor arrivals peak, and the ski slopes nearby fill up with skiers of every level of ability. When the snow melts, springtime brings with it more than just the cherry blossom season.

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