Media Releases

Media Releases

Japan National Tourism Organization takes MasterChef Australia to Japan

MasterChef Australia will head to Japan for the first time, exploring the nation’s bustling capital and regional areas as part of Japan Week, sponsored by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Sydney Office in partnership with Qantas.

The MasterChef Australia contestants will face a new series of culinary challenges as they start in Tokyo, travel to the iconic Mount Fuji, and discover regional Japan alongside judges Gary Mehigan, Matt Preson and George Calombaris. Against the backdrop of vibrant cities and stunning natural landscapes, and with the guidance of prominent international and Japanese chefs, contestants will be inspired to push the boundaries of their creativity.

Japanese cuisine has exploded in popularity around the world, and for good reason. Food preparation in Japan is an art form. In traditional Japanese cuisine, only the freshest seasonal ingredients are used, and dishes are crafted using expert techniques. It’s no surprise that washoku, Japan’s traditional dietary culture, is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

“There is no better country to host MasterChef Australia than Japan,” said JNTO Sydney Office Executive Director Kana Wakabayashi. “Japan’s reputation as a paradise for food-lovers is globally recognised, with more Michelin stars awarded to restaurants in Tokyo alone than any other city in the world.”

“Food is a highlight of travel for so many people, and we hope the show will inspire more people to visit Japan and experience our excellent food for themselves,” she said.

MasterChef Australia Judge George Calombaris said: “This is my first ever visit to Japan. Gary, Matt and I can’t wait to see what amazing dishes our very talented MasterChef Australia contestants plate up. There’s no doubt Japan Week will continue to challenge and inspire them as they continue on their food dream.”

The special Japan Week of episodes will air as part of the highly anticipated ninth season of Australia’s premiere cooking competition, MasterChef Australia, coming soon to TEN and WIN Network.

Judges Gary Mehigan, Matt Preston and George Calombaris

MasterChef Australia judges Gary Mehigan, Matt Preston and George Calombaris

Taste of Japan: Yummy Fun Truck Delights Melbourne

The Taste of Japan Yummy Fun Truck sponsored by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) made its debut in Melbourne over the weekend, celebrating the launch of a new daily direct Qantas flight from Melbourne to Tokyo Narita.

Part ice cream truck, part game show, JNTO has created a uniquely Japanese experience in the heart of Melbourne.

Over 2,000 people queued up to sample the special Japan-inspired ice cream flavours created by the geniuses at Gelato Messina, as well as to take their chances at the Japan-inspired game show. Participants are blindfolded and asked to guess the flavours they taste. If they guess correctly, they move onto a vending machine which will dispense one of many coveted prizes – such as boiled egg moulds, chair leg socks, or…a trip for two to Japan!

Lee May was the lucky winner of the first trip given away, and there are four more trips to be won over the next three weekends.

Lee stated: “We are huge Japan fans, and saw on social media that this event was happening. We decided to make a day of it – we went for some ramen for lunch, and then the Taste of Japan Yummy Fun Truck provided the perfect dessert.”

He added: “I’m not sure my boss is going to be too pleased, I might have to wait a little while until I can go, but we really cannot wait. We love Japan, we travelled all over and have friends in Tokyo so that is probably our favourite part. I really can’t believe we won, it is amazing.”

Last year, JNTO asked fans to share their experiences, memories and stories from Japan through a social media campaign. Gelato Messina used these insights to develop eight amazing and unusual flavour combinations, from Make My Dai Dai to Wasa-Berri. Each weekend, the Taste of Japan Yummy Fun Truck will have four different flavours on offer. Japan is one of the hottest destinations for the people of Melbourne right now, and the Taste of Japan Yummy Fun Truck is sure to inspire even more Melburnians to try out the real Japan for themselves.

The Taste of Japan Yummy Fun Truck was based at Southern Cross train station for its first outing, and will visit multiple locations in Melbourne every weekend until Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 March.

Yummy Fun Truck

Taste of Japan Yummy Fun Truck

Japanese-style Gameshow

Japanese-style Gameshow

Prize winner

Winner of the trip for 2 to Japan

Taste of Japan: Yummy Fun Truck Hitting the Streets of Melbourne

To celebrate the launch of direct Qantas flights from Melbourne to Tokyo Narita, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is initiating an experiential campaign that will bring a special Japan-inspired icy treat to the Melbourne streets this summer: The Taste of Japan Yummy Fun Truck.

Working with the geniuses at Gelato Messina, JNTO has created a part ice cream truck, part game show experience which gives a nod to Japan’s amazing culture.

Not only can lucky punters sample some incredible Japan inspired free ice cream, they will also have the chance to win one of five amazing holidays for two people to Japan courtesy of Qantas. To win, participants have to take part in a Japanese inspired game show and take their chances at the Yummy Fun Truck vending machine.

Last year, JNTO asked fans to share their experiences, memories and stories from Japan through a social media and radio campaign. Gelato Messina used these insights to develop eight amazing and unusual flavour combinations, from Make My Dai Dai to Wasa-Berri. Each weekend, the Taste of Japan Yummy Fun Truck will have four different flavours on offer. Japan is one of the hottest destinations for the people of Melbourne right now, and the Taste of Japan Yummy Fun Truck is sure to inspire even more Melburnians to try out the real Japan for themselves.

JNTO Sydney Office Executive Director, Mariko Tatsumi, said: “We wanted to creatively inspire people to experience Japan for themselves, going beyond a straight advertising campaign. Our desire is to surprise and delight audiences with a taste of Japan.”

She added “Japan is a cultural playground; its eclectic experiences and mouth-watering flavours tell an incredible story. We can’t wait to see the public reaction to the Taste of Japan Yummy Fun Truck, which will be a guaranteed highly entertaining and memorable experience.”

Stephanie Tully, Qantas Executive Manager Brand and Marketing, said the ice cream truck was a fun way to raise awareness for the new route and give customers a taste of the eclectic Japanese food culture.

“We are delighted to work with JNTO to celebrate our new daily direct route. The Taste of Japan Yummy Fun Truck is a unique way to showcase some of the distinct flavours and ingredients of Japanese cuisine and we look forward to helping inspire more Melburnians experience Japan for themselves.”

The Taste of Japan Yummy Fun Truck will visit multiple locations in Melbourne starting at Southern Cross Station on Sunday 19 February and visiting different hotspots every weekend until Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 March.

Japan-Australia Tourism Seminar held in Sydney

On Saturday 14 January, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) and Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) hosted the Japan-Australia Tourism Seminar in Sydney at the Hilton Sydney, a travel industry event held to enhance bilateral tourism exchange between Japan and Australia. The event was attended by around 150 people including Australian media and both inbound and outbound travel trade representatives.

Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, made a welcome address before a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) was exchanged between the President of JNTO Head Office, Mr Ryoichi Matsuyama, and the Managing Director of Tourism Australia, Mr. John O’Sullivan. The MOC was developed to strengthen close tourism partnerships with the aim of increasing travel demand from both Japan and Australia. JNTO and TA will endeavour to collaborate to enhance their respective destination marketing initiatives and encourage two-way visitation.

Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Shinzo Abe also called on both countries to enhance bilateral tourism exchange, saying Japan was in the process of improving its tourism environment to better welcome overseas guests, toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. He also touched on the charms of Australia, from coastal resorts to delicious food and wine.

The event was an opportunity for both the Australian and Japanese travel industry representatives to gain tourism updates and develop stronger links.

John O'Sullivan (Managing Director, Tourism Australia), Shinzo Abe (Prime Minister of Japan) and Ryoichi Matsuyama (President, Japan National Tourism Organization)

John O’Sullivan (Managing Director, Tourism Australia), Shinzo Abe (Prime Minister of Japan) and Ryoichi Matsuyama (President, Japan National Tourism Organization)

JNTO Launches Campaign Supporting New Qantas Flight

Today Qantas launched daily direct flights from Melbourne to Narita Tokyo, giving the people of Victoria unprecedented direct access to this fascinating mecca. To celebrate, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is initiating a radio and digital campaign to generate mass awareness of the new route.

Launching on Saturday 17 December through leading Melbourne Radio station Fox 101.9 FM and online through JNTO’s owned channels, listeners will be encouraged to share what they love about Japan for their chance to win a trip of a lifetime for two people. From cherry blossom season to traditional tea ceremonies, from sushi trains to sumo wrestling, the campaign will identify the top Japanese experiences and drawcards for Victorian audiences.

JNTO Executive Director, Mariko Tatsumi explains: “Australian travel to Japan is booming like never before. The land of the rising sun is attracting Australian visitors in droves, lured by the prospect of experiencing a myriad of uniquely Japanese adventures year-round. There’s been a 21.3% average increase in visitor numbers each month throughout 2016 and that is on top of a 24.3% increase last year. Qantas adding a new route for Melbourne can only help drive demand, which we feel is definitely something worth supporting and celebrating”.

She added, “The mix of modern, eclectic Japan with tradition and heritage is very attractive for Australians seeking an authentic holiday, very different from Australia. We are looking forward to hearing which experiences are favourites for the Australian public”.

JAPAN Incentive Travel Awards 2016 winners announced


The results of the inaugural JAPAN Incentive Travel Awards are out and we take this opportunity to congratulate all participants who submitted an incentive tour.

Of the entrants who qualified the panel of judges have awarded the 3 following outstanding incentive tours to Japan:

Grand Prize:  “2015 Nan Sha Life Insurance Elite Summit in Hokkaido” organised by Lion Travel Service Co. (Taiwan)

Planning Award: “Chaumet – Hurry up for sales” organised by teamtravel premium GmbH (Germany)

Contribution Award “MILLENNIUM ACHIEVERS TOUR” organised by JTB Australia Pty Ltd (Australia)

Although the group size of JTB Australia’s incentive tour was smaller in comparison, it was chosen for the Contribution Award as it was able to showcase several locations in western Japan such as Okayama, Kobe, Naoshima and Tokushima. The participants were able to take part in local cultural activities such as an Awa-Odori folkdance and visited cultural landmarks such as the art island of Naoshima, all of which are memorable and uniquely Japanese experiences.

Kumiko Hardy, General Manager of JTB Australia said,

“Thank you so much for the award. We are particularly pleased as a lot of thought went into the planning of this tour. The clients were all experienced travellers and not interested in ordinary sightseeing on the golden routes. They wanted to have a real Japanese surprise!
Joining in the local awa-odori was definitely a highlight for them all. An explosion of such happy energy! Laughter throughout the night and they unanimously agreed it was the best experience they have ever had. Memories of the tour are still vivid with us and now have been adorned with the honour of receiving this award. Thank you.”

All prize winners will be invited to Japan (with complimentary business class airfares) to be presented the awards at the IME2016 26th International Meetings Expo held at PACIFICO YOKOHAMA on 7 December 2016. They will also have the opportunity to experience an incentive exploration tour of Tokyo.

Once again we would like to take this opportunity to thank all submissions and the effort they have put into promoting incentive travel to Japan.

Applications for JAPAN Incentive Travel Awards 2016 now open


The inaugural JAPAN Incentive Travel Awards are now open for applications until 5pm 25 October 2016 (UTC+9).

Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has established the JAPAN Incentive Travel Awards to recognize outstanding practices among incentives to Japan and to showcase the charm and appeal of Japan as an incentive destination to the world.

The competition is open to incentive tours which have taken place between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016 with at least 100 room nights*.

The Grand Prize winner will be invited to Japan for the awards ceremony (business class airfare provided) and will explore the incentive possibilities Tokyo can offer on the “Deep Tokyo Trip” – a fam trip of the Tokyo metropolitan area. This experiential tour will include activities designed for incentive groups introducing Tokyo’s traditional and innovative characteristics (the prize package is subject to change).

The Award ceremony will take place on 7 December 2016 during the IME2016 26th International Meetings Expo held at PACIFICO YOKOHAMA.

For more information and application form please visit

*One room night is calculated as one person staying one night (20 persons x 5 nights = 100 room nights)

JNTO Sydney Office






JNTO Launches the ‘Japan On-line Media Center’

JOMC HP(small) On August 19, 2016, The Japan National Tourism Organization launched the ‘Japan On-line Media Center’ (JOMC) – a platform designed specifically to provide copyright-free digital resources to media outlets with a database of over 7,000 photos and videos. JOMC offers an exceptional tool for overseas media creating tourism content for Japan.

JOMC material focuses on popular tourism attractions, scenery and landscapes, food, historical experiences, and cultural exhibitions. Members of the media can access a range of frequently updated, high-quality content, available free following registration.

JNTO encourages overseas media to use JOMC material for introducing Japan on productions of broadcast, print, online and other media types.


“Kimono Forest” in Kyoto


“Mt Iozan” in Hokkaido


How to use Japan On-line Media Center

  1. Access JOMC through URL
  2. Browse through the content and click on the video or image you wish to download. You will be taken to a new page with details of the content you have selected.
  3. Agree to the terms and conditions and press the “download” button.
  4. A pop-up will appear – For new users please click “Register” and follow the prompts.
  5. After completing the registration, press the “download” button once again to begin the download.

10 Ways to have a Rustic Japan Trip in Tohoku

Japan National Tourism Organization, Sydney Office and All Nippon Airways (ANA) have launched a cooperative campaign, ‘10 Ways to have a Rustic Japan Trip’ to promote travel to the Tohoku region of Japan to Australian travellers.

The campaign features 10 different ways to have a rustic travel experience in the Tohoku region, the north-eastern part of the main island of Japan, an area famous for outdoor adventures and deep culture. The campaign features various places, from secluded onsen (hot springs) first discovered by samurai to temples where rugged ascetic training is carried out by monks. ANA has partnered to offer free airfares between Tokyo and four different airports in the Tohoku region (Akita, Odate-Noshiro, Shonai and Sendai airports), for travellers who purchase an international ticket between Sydney and Tokyo during the campaign period.

The special fares are also available for travel agents as well. Tickets are available for a limited time only, for booking between 11 July and 31 July, for travel between 1 September and 27 December.

The campaign is currently promoted on Traveller (, Escape ( and Expedia (

Campaign details can be found on the official page at:

Nyuto Onsen, Akita

Nyuto Onsen, Akita

Hokkaido tops Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia list

Global travel authority Lonely Planet has named Japan’s Hokkaido prefecture as the top destination in Asia to visit in 2016 as part of its inaugural ‘Best in Asia’ list.

Hokkaido is famed for its skiing and snow; the country’s northernmost island known as the powder capital of Japan. The destination also offers more than just wintertime fun, with volcanoes, natural hot springs to explore and in early May, stunning cherry blossoms bloom as a prelude to a diverse summer landscape of flower and lavender fields.

Hokkaido’s ease of accessibility from Tokyo is set to cement the destination on traveller’s itineraries, with an array of domestic flight options and the recently opened Hokkaido Shinkansen (bullet train) linking Japan’s capital with the city of Hakodate, on the southern tip of the region in just over four hours.

JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization) Sydney Office Executive Director Mariko Tatsumi says: “We are very proud to be at the top of this fantastic list. Japan is a hot destination right now for Australian travellers and this accolade only reinforces that.”

“In compiling our Best in Asia 2016 list,” Lonely Planet’s Chris Zeiher says, “our Asia-expert authors have explored the continent’s most electrifying cities, trekked through steaming jungles and even swum in bountiful seas to seek out the spots you simply cannot afford to miss.”

Japan is more popular than ever, latest statistics released by ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) showing visitor numbers to Japan saw a 22.5% increase in visitation for the period of Jan-May 2016 year-on-year.

For travel inspiration and advice, see JNTO’s social media channels and Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia 2016 is available online at

5 reasons why you should be visiting Hokkaido

  1. Near the dormant volcano of Mt. Yotei, lies Niseko. Known for its quality and consistent light, powdery snow – the result of Siberian winds interacting with moisture from the Sea of Japan.
  2. 50 kms off the coast of Hokkaido lies Rebun Island in the Sea of Japan. The island features an abundance of rare alpine flowers, green spaces, and striking coastline.
  3. Known best for its snow-capped peaks, Niseko is in fact a top autumn destination in Hokkaido. With lakes, hiking trails and hot springs to explore, and even golf and canoeing.
  4. Jigokudani in Noboribetsu gets its ‘hell valley’ namesake from the bubbling steam vents and streams that dot the area. In summer, Thursday and Friday nights see a ‘demon’s fireworks’ display, complete with dancing Yukijin demons along the edge of the valley.
  5. Lake Toya is a volcanic caldera lake in Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Nearby Mt. Usu is one of the most active volcanoes in Japan, its most recent eruption in 2000.
Hokkaido, Japan

Hokkaido, Japan