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 instagram.com/visitjapanau and facebook.com/VisitJapanAU. Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia 2016 is available online at lonelyplanet.com/best-in-asia.
5 reasons why you should be visiting Hokkaido
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
JNTO sends e-Learning best and brightest to Japan
The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) will send exemplary performers in their e-Learning programme on one of two famils to Japan to experience the country’s unique wonders for themselves in October 2016.
The first of the two options will take the lucky winners on a tour through Japan’s “Golden Route,” consisting of stops and activities at Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima.
The second will take participants on an outdoor journey through Japan’s Alpine Route, stopping at Kyoto and Osaka to experience their metropolitan splendours.
Participants can look forward to experiencing a wide range of activities, from tasting the best sake Hiroshima has to offer, to a cycling adventure along the Shimanami Kaido cycling track.
JNTO Sydney Office’s Executive Director, Ms. Mariko Tatsumi, said the trip was an excellent way for successful agents to see how they could put their knowledge to practical use.
“We feel that, given Japan’s growth as a travel destination for Australians, agents who complete the programme will have an important edge in the industry,” she said.
“This famil is a great opportunity for agents to enjoy the same experiences they’ll be sending their clients on.”
Since its launch in March, JNTO’s e-Learning programme has attracted more than 400 participants.
The competition will run until 15 August 2016, after which the winners will be announced.
The free JNTO e-Learning programme is available at https://elearning.jnto.org.au/ and is compatible with both desktop and mobile devices.
Best of Japan Snow come to Sydney and Melbourne
Representatives of Japan’s Snow and Ski industry will be attending the Snow and Adventure Travel Mart organised by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) in Sydney and Melbourne in May.
The travel mart brings together delegates from Japan’s major snow resorts to engage with Australian travel agents and ski tour operators on the latest regional trends through business meetings and presentations.
The aim of the travel mart is to provide travel agents an opportunity to network and get information directly from the Japanese Ski Resorts through one-on-one discussions.
Executive Director of JNTO, Sydney Office, Ms. Mariko Tatsumi, believes the travel mart is instrumental in ensuring Australian travel agents are ready for the next ski season in Japan.
“The Australian ski market has always been an important focus of Japan tourism. With more and more Australians heading there every year, it’s crucial for travel agents to stay up-to-date on the latest developments, so they will have the knowledge and confidence to sell Japan ski holidays,” she said.
“The Snow and Adventure Travel Mart is the best chance Australian agents have to get in touch with Japanese suppliers and get the information they need.”
The event will also give attendees the opportunity to wins prizes such as hotel vouchers and a Sony digital camera.
The event will be held during daytime in Melbourne at the Novotel Hotel on Collins on the 23rd May, and at the Intercontinental Hotel in Sydney on the 30th May.
While RSVPs for pre-scheduled appointments closed 12th May, those interested in attending the event can send their name, company name, position, contact email to [email protected]
Niseko skiing © JNTO
PCOs experience the best of Japan on JNTO famil
Five professional conference organisers from Australia and New Zealand were invited to experience Japan as an ideal destination for business events on a six-day familiarisation trip fully hosted by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) in January.
The trip started in the buzzing capital of Tokyo, where the participants stayed at the luxurious Conrad Tokyo, a sleek property featuring panoramic views of Tokyo Bay. Highlights in Tokyo included a taiko drumming experience in Asakusa and a sushi-making experience at Tsukiji Fish Market, activities perfect for team-building. The group also experienced the exceedingly popular Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, among other site inspections.
From there the group headed to Odawara, in the foothills of the hot spring region Hakone. Riding on the bullet train for the first time was an experience that will not be forgotten. The group were impressed by the facilities at the Hilton Odawara Resort & Spa where they stayed overnight, which included tennis courts, a karaoke room and even a bowling alley.
Their next stop was Kyoto, Japan’s cultural and traditional heart. Here the group enjoyed traditional activities like origami, calligraphy and an exclusive up-close maiko (apprentice geisha) experience. The PCOs were treated to delicious traditional and modern Japanese cuisine, and were impressed by the variety on offer throughout the trip.
Victoria Wales, Business Director of HOT Events, Christchurch spoke highly of the sheer variety of experiences on offer.
“Our recent famil to Japan was filled with delight in discovering a new destination. My highlight had to be our time with the entertaining hosts at WAK in Kyoto – being challenged with calligraphy and origami and dressing in traditional kimono. My second highlight had to be the food of course – from creating our own sushi rolls to enjoying 12 courses of vegan dining prepared for us by Buddhist monks – WOW!” she said.
“I am looking forward to visiting again with groups particularly for the Rugby World Cup 2019 and Olympics 2020.”
Group Members (left to right): Josie Hough, David Dymmott, Jayson Frazer, Victoria Wales, Michael Walker, Jenna Doumit, Yuko Hashimoto
JNTO will blossom at AIME 2016
- Japan Launches New Meetings & Events Brand
Japan is launching its new meetings and events brand concept at AIME2016. As the leading destination for hosting international association meetings in the Asia Pacific, the new Japan brand aims to strengthen the national brand as an attractive destination for business events.
To highlight Japan’s advantages as an innovative and exciting meetings and events destination, we are adopting the tagline: New ideas start here.
New ideas start here
Japan’s unique culture and advanced technology, together with the opportunity for interaction with the Japanese academic, business, and industrial community, inspire participants and offer new perspectives and insight that propel the further evolution of science and industry.
With this tagline, we intend to convey the message that coming to Japan brings visitors into contact with the imagination and intelligence of Japan’s people and culture, which underpins the country’s high quality, technological expertise, and creativity. Holding meetings and events in Japan enables participants to gain inspiration and flashes of insight that enable future business growth.
- Japan is a Top-ranked Destination
KYOTO: World’s best city “Travel & Leisure”
TOKYO: World’s best city to live in “Monocle”
No.1 in Asia, No.7 in the world in international conferences ICCA ranking
3.?New Success Meetings
Annual Conference of the International Association for Impact Assessment (1100pax / Nagoya / 2016)
XV World Congress of Music Therapy (2500pax / July 2017 / Sapporo)
Progress In Electromagnetics Research Symposium (900 pax / Toyama / 2018)
World Buiatrics Congress (WBC2018) (2000pax / August 2018 / Sapporo)
International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (3000pax / Kobe / 2019)
ICOM’s 25th General Conference (2500pax / Kyoto / 2019
- Unique Venues and Team Building
International Night in MIYAJIMA
Participants of IPEC-Hiroshima 2014-ECCE ASIA-, an international conference on power electronics held at International Conference Center Hiroshima from May 18th to 21st, 2014, were invited to take part in a unique party on Miyajima, the island of the Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on the evening of May 19th, 2014.
The party was named ‘International Night in MIYAJIMA’ and its uniqueness lay in its venue: the whole island. About 420 multinational participants gathered on the island, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, to enjoy strolling around the island, shopping and dining with special coupons they could use in several shops and restaurants. As an example of Hiroshima’s hospitality, they also had an opportunity to indulge themselves in the Japanese culture, including making an official visit to the Itsukushima Shrine, strolling and having dinner dressed in yukata (cotton kimono for summer) and drinking matcha green tea with a piece of Momiji-manju (a maple leaf shaped cake).
Participants were delighted with this open air party along with evening views of the Seto Inland Sea and the beautifully lit Otorii Gate.
Sapporo offers a team building menu!
Sapporo, which is planning to bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics and is blazing a path into Asia for new congresses, provides incentive planners with its Team Building Guide. Several unique, fun, and educational experiences are described within, including but not limited to: snowmobiling, snowman decoration contests, survival games, treasure hunts, vegetable picking, rafting, and traditional cookie-making experiences. Please contact the Sapporo Convention Bureau for more information.
- Arrive in Japan in Comfort and Style
Increased Flight Options Bring Japan Closer than Ever– Arriving in Tokyo is getting easier and easier. Currently, Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) and Narita International Airport together handle more than 2,100 international weekly flights from 94 cities in some 36 nations on more than 70 airlines. In August 2015 Qantas commenced flights from Brisbane to Narita and Sydney to Haneda. Further, in December 2015 ANA launched a new route from Sydney to Haneda, bringing Japan even closer than ever from Australia.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) announced its plan to increase landing capacity in Tokyo airports through the easing of flight restrictions and the construction of additional runways. As part of the plan, Terminal 3, which is specifically designated for budget airlines, was opened at Narita Airport in April.
The total number of slots is expected to increase by approximately 50% from an annual 520,000 in 2010 to 750,000 at the end of March 2016.
VIP Treatment for Convention Attendees- To make Japan even more convenient for overseas business visitors, this year the Japanese government is planning to establish priority “Fast Lanes” through immigration for delegates of international conferences arriving at Narita and Kansai International Airports, two of the main ports of entry to Japan. This will help shorten the time spent waiting at the airport and provide a more efficient service for conference delegates.
The Famous Shinkansen (Bullet Train) Will Soon Connect All of Japan- Japan is already incredibly easy to navigate, with extensive public transportation infrastructure between major cities. In 2015 and beyond, extensions of the shinkansen network will make it even more convenient to travel between cities.
- Hokuriku Shinkansen (completed March 2015)
This new addition connects Tokyo to Kanazawa on the Sea of Japan coast in only 2.5 hours.
- Hokkaido Shinkansen (2016)
Planned for March 2016, the Hokkaido Shinkansen will connect the main island of Honshu to the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido, providing easier access to Sapporo and beyond.
- Kyushu Shinkansen/Hakata-Nagasaki (2022)
The extension of the Kyushu Shinkansen to Nagasaki is expected to be completed in 2022.
- More International, Unique, and Big Hotel Brands Are Choosing Japan
- Tokyo: Hotel Gracery Shinjuku Kabukicho (2015)
*The hotel features a huge 39’ high Godzilla head poking out of the hotel’s roof and Godzilla-themed rooms.
- Tokyo: Hilton Tokyo Odaiba (2015)
- Hakone: Hoshinoya Fuji (2015)
- Tokyo: Hoshinoya Tokyo (2016)
- Yokohama: The APA Hotel & Resort Yokohama Bay Tower (2019)
*Planned to be Japan’s biggest hotel with 2,400 guestrooms
*Starwood’s first Luxury Collection property in Japan
- Kyoto: Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto (2015)
- Kyoto: Aman Kyoto (2015)
- Kagoshima: Best Western: Kagoshima (2015)
*Best Western International now has a portfolio of 14 hotels in 11 key cities across Japan.
- Free Wi-Fi Nationwide for Visitors
Japan boasts several ways for international visitors to remain connected while in Japan. One of the most popular methods is Japan Connected-Free Wi-Fi, a free, downloadable app created by NTT Broadband Platform, Inc. for both Google Play and the iOS App Store. A second method is provided by Japan Airlines: any ticket purchased by them entitles the customer to free Wi-Fi all across the country. Please check their websites for more details.
- Visas and Stopover Tours
Visa Relaxation to Be Extended for More Countries- Following the relaxation of visa requirements for Malaysia and Thailand in July 2013, the relaxation has recently been extended to include other Asian countries such as China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and India.
*Please see the Japanese Embassy’s website in each country for further details.
Transit in Japan Is Now Part of Your Travel- “Narita-Transit Tour,” which started in March, offers five attractive courses to nearby areas, including visits to Naritasan Shinshoji Temple and the historical town of Tako. There are also self-guided tours available. This is a part of the Visit Japan campaign by the government, which strives to offer more ways to experience and explore Japan. Narita Airport will also continue to host diverse events year round, such as rickshaw rides and kimono experiences, introducing unique elements of Japanese culture. Narita Airport will also be extending the free use of their traveler’s lounge.
- Japan welcomed over 19 million visitors in 2015
Preliminary inbound visitor numbers indicate that by the end of December 2015 the number reached 19,737,400. According to statistics released by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) this is a 47.1% increase compared to 2014 and the highest ever recorded. It is estimated that a total of 376,200 Australians travelled to Japan in 2015, a 24.3% increase from 2014.
“This year we’re delighted to represent Japan at AIME with 14 co-exhibitors. Please stop by and visit the Japan Booth (#2700) to pick up the latest information on Japan’s convention cities and tourist attractions. Furthermore, we will be hosting some exciting networking events so please join us for your chance to win one of two trips for #twotoJapan! Stay up to date with the Japan stand at AIME through our Instagram account @Japanbusinessevents,” commented Mariko Tatsumi, Executive Director, JNTO Sydney.
Tuesday 23 February
Presentation by JNTO and All Nippon Airways from 16.30 to 16.45, followed by a networking cocktail event from 16.45 to 17.45
Wednesday 24 February
Presentation by JNTO and All Nippon Airways 11.45 to 12.00, followed by a light Japanese inspired lunch from 12.05 to 12.50.
For details on the #twotoJapan competition including conditions see https://www.jnto.org.au/mice/aime-2016/
JNTO launches new website and exciting campaign
Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Sydney office’s official website has been given a makeover. The innovative design and improved functionality aims to enhance the end-user experience, making information on travel to Japan easier to obtain for travellers, travel agents, media and business event planners.
The site content has been expanded and rearranged, showcasing the destination’s ever-evolving offerings. Content has been separated into the inspirational ‘Experiences’ and the more functional ‘Plan Your Trip’ categories so users can navigate through it quickly and easily to find the information they are looking for. The new website is also fully responsive and optimised for mobile, tablet and desktop users.
New features include:
- An interactive map showcasing model routes, ski/snowboard areas and airports
- A user-generated images feed to promote advocacy and inspire future travel to Japan
- A tenders page listing proposal competitions conducted by JNTO Sydney
- Improved functionality for travel agents to add their own travel deals and agency listings. These can then be easily searched by travellers
Users can engage with JNTO Sydney on social media, including Facebook VisitJapanAU and Instagram @VisitJapanAU. JNTO Sydney’s Instagram account was launched in October 2015 and has already reached 4147 followers, while the Facebook page has hit 44245 likes. Further buzz on social media is expected surrounding the launch of The Magic Sakura campaign, a mini-game where players can plant, grow and nurture their very own virtual cherry blossom tree. One lucky player will win a holiday to Japan for two people, including two return economy class tickets on All Nippon Airways from Sydney to Haneda, six nights’ accommodation and two Japan Rail passes provided by H.I.S Australia. There are also Lonely Planet e-books on offer as spot prizes. Conditions apply – see prize page for further details.
JNTO Sydney Executive Director Mariko Tatsumi says, “We are very pleased to launch our redesigned website and an exciting campaign which offers Australians the opportunity to win an amazing trip to Japan. We hope many Australians and New Zealanders will join us on our new website and on social media to discover what Japan has to offer and plan their next trip to Japan. “
Keep an eye out for further developments, including a new e-learning program for travel agents hosted on the JNTO website.
Visit and explore the new website today!
The Magic Sakura:
The Magic Sakura
Japan welcomed over 19 million visitors in 2015
Japan’s aim of reaching 20 million visitors by 2020 was nearly achieved in 2015, with preliminary inbound visitor numbers indicating that by the end of December 2015 this number reached 19,737,400. According to statistics released by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) this is a 47.1% increase compared to 2014 and the highest ever recorded.
JNTO estimates that a total of 376,200 Australians travelled to Japan in 2015, a 24.3% increase from 2014. The months with the highest number of Australian visitors were January and December with 48,583 and 49,400 visitors respectively.
JNTO cited a number of contributors to the growth in visitor numbers, including JNTO’s continuous promotional efforts. Other factors contributing to the increase in visitors from Australia include new airline routes (Qantas’ Brisbane to Narita route in August and ANA’s Sydney to Haneda route in December) along with the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement, increasing business between the two countries.
JNTO Sydney’s Executive Director Mariko Tatsumi commented, “Australians love visiting Japan in winter, as you can see from the latest statistics. Our aim in 2016 is to encourage Australians to consider visiting at other times of year too, as Japan has so much to offer in autumn with the changing of the leaves and in summer with amazing festivals.”
The figures released by JNTO are based on arrivals of Australian passport holders and include business, leisure and stopover visitors.
JNTO celebrates Lonely Planet selection as #2 country
SYDNEY November 25, 2015 – Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Sydney Office hosted an exclusive media event on Monday night at Toko Sydney with Lonely Planet, to celebrate the recent announcement that Japan is the number two country to visit in 2016.
The event included a presentation by Lonely Planet’s Asia Pacific Sales & Marketing Director Chris Zeiher, who explained Best in Travel and the reasons Japan was selected in the 2016 Best Countries list. He stated, “Japan is one of the world’s most desirable travel destinations right now. It offers travellers a veritable bento box of experiences – from urban adventures in its futuristic cities, to moments of reflection and meditation in pristine wooded countryside. Japan is a destination that can be sampled in a short break or discovered through a long stay. Equal parts fast and slow, traditional and modern, vibrant and authentic, there’s no better time for travellers to experience the variety of Japan than in 2016.”
JNTO Sydney Executive Director Ms Mariko Tatsumi was thrilled to be celebrating this achievement. “We are really proud that the global publication Lonely Planet has selected Japan as the number 2 country to visit in 2016. We are also thankful for the ongoing support of travel agents who directly inspire Australians to travel to our country”, she said.
JNTO Sydney also announced that upcoming promotional efforts will be heavily focused on digital marketing, with plans to launch a new website early next year and a new e-learning program for travel agents. JNTO Sydney’s all-new online presence can already been seen with the launch of an Instagram account (https://instagram.com/visitjapanau/) this month and renewal of the facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/VisitJapanAU/). In the coming months keep an eye out for an innovative social media campaign with great prizes on offer.
One lucky attendee, Stephanie Williams, won a dinner voucher to Toko for coming 2nd closest in the guessing game. The game involved guessing the weight of the JNTO’s creative come to life – heaps to fit in.
Japan is more popular than ever, with the latest statistics released by JNTO showing visitor numbers to Japan are the highest ever on record. Preliminary figures for January to October 2015 show a 48.2% increase from the previous year with 16,316,900 foreign visitors in total (297,200 Australians, up 22.4%), already breaking last year’s records.
Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel
Photo: Lonely Planet’s Chris Zeiher
Product Managers visit Kyushu, the Land of Fire
SYDNEY November 12, 2015 – Last month, eight product managers from Australia were invited on a 7-day familiarisation trip of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands. The trip was fully-hosted and escorted by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Sydney Office.
The group visited Oita, Kumamoto, Kagoshima and Fukuoka prefectures in Kyushu. During their stay, they saw two active volcanoes, experienced outdoor baths, footbaths and even sand baths, visited two landscape gardens, walked across Japan’s highest pedestrian suspension bridge, climbed up the keep of ancient Kumamoto Castle and ate a meal similar to what the samurai-class royalty would have eaten.
“As Japan’s popularity as a tourist destination continues to soar, repeat travellers from Australia are looking for authentic travel experiences off-the-beaten-path. In addition to great food, hot-springs and warm Japanese hospitality, regional destinations like those found in Kyushu can certainly provide this,” said Stephanie Sng, Business Development and Marketing Manager of JNTO Sydney Office.
Fukuoka, the largest and most developed city on Kyushu is directly connected to Japan’s main island of Honshu by bullet-train. It takes just over an hour to travel by bullet-train to Fukuoka from Hiroshima, a city already well-visited by Australian travellers and the Japan Rail (JR) Pass can be used on this route. Alternatively, visitors can fly from Tokyo to Fukuoka in 1.5 hours. JNTO recommends a combination of rail, bus and rental car to get the most out of your trip to Kyushu.
Top (L-R): Angela Ferres (Insider Journeys), Alan Gibson (Trans Orbit), Haydn Thompson (Japan Package Tours); Bottom (L-R): Stephanie Sng (JNTO Sydney Office), Kate Harper (World Expeditions), Lisa Mather (Saizen Tours), Amy Rae (China Travel Service), Noriko Yoshioka (guide)
Photo courtesy of Lisa Mather
Have a taste of Japan in Sydney this weekend!
SYDNEY November 5, 2015 – The ever-popular Matsuri in Sydney is back again this year at Darling Harbour on Saturday 7th November, 11am-7pm. Due to redevelopment in the area, this year’s venue is Palm Grove, Darling Harbour.
Matsuri in Sydney is Sydney’s biggest Japanese event, held annually and featuring the very best music, dance and food from Japan. In 2014 the event attracted over 25,000 visitors, making it the biggest Matsuri in Sydney yet.
JNTO Sydney Office’s Executive Director, Mariko Tatsumi, extended a warm welcome to everyone, “Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) and a select group of Japan travel specialists will be providing free tourist information on travel to Japan at the Visit Japan/JNTO booth. Come along to say ‘konnichiwa’ and pick up maps and brochures for your next trip to Japan!”
This year other exhibitors will include All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Kumamoto, Nagoya, Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan.
There will be performances on stage including taiko drums, traditional dances, karate and sumo demonstrations. Food stalls will also provide the best of Japanese festival food such as takoyaki, yakisoba and karaage. Wear a yukata (summer cotton kimono) or come dressed in cosplay. It will be a great day out for all ages!
Japanese food stalls and beer garden
Yukata and Cosplay show
Dance: Yosakoi, soran, folk dance
Live Demos and Activities: Karate, kendo, sumo, calligraphy, origami
Music: Japanese taiko drums, choir, new talents
Plus plenty more!
Visit the official website for more details: http://matsurisydney.com/