Goway Destination Specialist Shares Highlights of Recent Japan FAM

Belinda MacNeil, Product Manager for Asia, chatted with Steve Perkins about his recent trip to Japan. Steve is one of Goway’s senior sales agents who had the opportunity to visit the west coast of Japan on a FAM trip hosted by Japan Tourism. Steve is a seasoned traveler in Asia and lived in Japan for a number of years, so we were excited to hear about his experience on his return.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about Japan?

I think one of the largest misconceptions about Japan is that it is so expensive that it is out of most people’s budget. Japan is a more costly destination than some others in Asia, However, it offers tremendous value for dollar and can be done on a budget (dependent on the requirements). Goway offers some fantastic budget-minded travel ideas such as our Japan Delights programs, which include Japan Rail Passes (either 7, 14 or 21 day) and hotel accommodation (varying levels).

What was your favourite hotel stay and why?

One of my favorite stays was at Nagoya JR Gate Tower Hotel as the location can simply not be beat as it’s directly connected to JR Nagoya Station (which is also a Shinkansen/bullet train station). The room was modern and quite comfortable and offered stunning views of Nagoya. There were also plenty of delicious food and beverage options nearby and even some great shopping venues.

Did you experience a unique stay and, if so, what were your thoughts on this experience?

The unique stay of this trip would have to be at Gifu Grand Hotel as we had the fantastic opportunity to stay in a Japanese-style room on futon mattresses on traditional woven tatami mat floors. The property also had some very relaxing hot spring baths (onsen). I always suggest that clients try to include at least one night in a ryokan (traditional Japanese-style inn) during their travels in Japan as this type of accommodation is quite an experience and found exclusively in Japan.

As a Goway Asia Expert, and one that has travelled to Japan plus lived there, was there anything that surprised you this time around?

I had no idea that Japan had a desert! Near the end portion of the trip, we visited Tottori Sand Dunes in Tottori Prefecture. The dunes were created by sediment deposits carried from the Chugoku Mountains by the Sendai River into the Sea of Japan. Sea currents and wind help bring the sand from the bottom up onto the shore, where the wind constantly rearranges their shape. The dunes have existed for over 100,000 years, but the area of the dunes has been steadily decreasing due to a government reforestation program following World War II.

What would be the perfect complement as an extension to this trip?

The perfect extension to the FAM trip I took would be additional time in Osaka and Kyoto or perhaps even a relaxing visit to Kinosaki Onsen. For art lovers, a visit to Naoshima would be fantastic and for those interested in history (especially war history), Hiroshima is a must.

You are always giving agents great tips when you consult so what would be your top 5 tips that agents should share with clients?

  • Be sure to book early to avoid disappointment, especially during peak cherry blossom season
  • For clients on a more limited budget, consider a twin-bedded room (2 separate beds) as hotels have a much larger inventory of this room category and the rooms are typically larger than standard double rooms.
  • Pre-arrange pocket Wi-Fi, which makes travelling around and keeping in touch so much easier. I recommend PuPuRu Wi-Fi (https://pupuruwifi.com/).
  • Pack light as it makes travelling around Japan must easier and more convenient.
  • Remember there’s no tipping in Japan as it’s not a part of their culture.

You mention that the food was a highlight. Can you tell us more and do you have a favourite local dish?

The food on this FAM trip was certainly one of the highlights. I think my favorite meal of the entire trip was our seafood lunch right along the waters in the fishing village in Ine (Kyoto Prefecture). The locally-caught fish and other seafood was not only sumptuous but also so delicately and beautifully presented. I’m already missing all the fantastic sushi I had during my trip as well.

What’s your absolute favourite photo of your entire trip?

My favorite picture is the woman attending to the fire in the traditional home in Tsumago.

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