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Leo Liu, one of our Team Leaders for the Asia department at Goway Travel, recently visited Japan. Here, we ask Leo to answer some questions about his experience and to share insights about visiting Japan and selling it to your clients.
Where did you travel to in Japan?
I travelled to Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka this past June.
What was your favourite hotel stay and why?
I really enjoyed the Keio Plaza Hotel in Tokyo. It’s a short walk to Shinjuku Station, which is one of the major train stations in Tokyo and provides access to everywhere easily. Also, there are many restaurants, bars, and shops nearby, including the popular Golden Gai area. The hotel is opposite the Metropolitan Building, which allows tourists free access to the top. Plus, the Keio Plaza Hotel is a pick-up point for group tours to Mt. Fuji and Hakone, so it was very convenient. I think the location is the biggest selling point. The hotel lobby is huge and you can always get assistance from the concierge or receptionist whenever you need help. The hotel breakfast is also very good.
Did you learn anything new, or did anything surprise you?
Japan was not as expensive as I expected, especially for food. Of course, you can spend upwards of US $200 in some high-end restaurants, but you can also find meals for around US $7, such as udon noodles. Also, it is so easy to use public transportation to travel around the cities and really affordable; it’s only a few dollars to travel one or two subway stops. I used a Pasmo subway card, which I preloaded and then topped up as needed.
You had the opportunity to use a Japan Rail Pass. Was it easy? Any tips?
The Japan Rail Pass is super convenient! I exchanged my rail pass once I arrived in Japan at a JR Travel Service Center, which are located in all the major train stations and airports. The staff at the service center were extremely helpful. They quickly helped me exchange my pass and helped me reserve my bullet train seats. You can also ask them any questions you have about the trains. You can use hyperdia.com to check train schedules. I also found it easy to use Google Maps.
What was your favourite experience?
Definitely visiting Hakone and staying at a traditional Japanese ryokan! This was an authentic Japanese experience I will never forget. Hakone is a stunning place with very clean streets, beautiful houses, breathtaking scenery, and friendly people. It’s a really relaxing place. The kaiseki food at the ryokan was amazing with its true Japanese flavour. I also enjoyed the onsen (hot springs). It was an amazing experience and you just want to stay forever!
Do you think this is a good family destination and why?
Yes, I think so. I met many tourists taking their kids and infants while riding the train. They were all travelling comfortably. Some sites that might appeal to families include: Todai-ji Temple and Nara Park in Nara, Tokyo Disneyland, and the Studio Ghibli Museum in Tokyo. Japan is considered to be a very safe destination and there are tons of activities for families.
Food is always a highlight when we travel. Did you have a favourite local dish?
I love Japanese food. My favorite food is Kobe beef and sushi, but I tried all kinds of cuisine. Two restaurants I recommend are: Ginza Maru, which you have to make a reservation online (you do not pay online but just reserve a seat), as you cannot get a table without a reservation in advance. Another restaurant I recommend for Wagyu beef or Kobe beef is called Kozai. Their steak is the best I’ve ever had!! It had great service as well.
We have some great Japan trip ideas to offer your clients including a 10-Day Highlights of Japan tour that includes a ryokan stay in Hakone, an affordable 8-Day Japan Delights with Rail tour, and a 9-Day Essential Japan Coach tour for those passengers who prefer to have more guided assistance.
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