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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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’.

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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 ONSEN’S OUTDOOR BUFFET
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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Home on the (Mountain) Range: Gokayama

Ainokura village in Gokayama in winter

Mention ‘traditional Japan’, and images of geishas and samurais come to mind. While there’s not much scope these days to step into the shoes of a geisha or a samurai, you can still experience the traditional way of life in the mountain villages of Gokayama.

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