Want to Experience More than Snowy Mountain Towns? - MountainWatch Travel

Want to Experience More than Snowy Mountain Towns?

A country like no other. Japan is rich in traditions and culture yet vibrant and cosmopolitan, with some of the most welcoming people on earth. Connected by one of the best transport systems in the world, it is easy to get from one city to the next. It would be a shame to come all the way to Japan and not get to experience the things that make this country so unique.

A relatively small country but long and narrow, so forward planning is required to get the most out of your trip. Recent years have seen an increase in the number of direct flights from Australia to Japan, including the first ever direct flight between Sydney and Sapporo. Operated by Qantas, this service is perfect for those wanting to experience the beautiful mountain resorts of Hokkaido. For a quick and convenient add on to your snow holiday, include a night or two in Sapporo or consider a code share flight to the South Island. 

The South Island of Honshu is where you will find some of the most popular tourist destinations, including Tokyo. It is also where majority of flights arrive into. For those with a connecting flight to Hokkaido, you will more often than not require an overnight stay due to flight connections. However one night is definitely not enough to experience this wonderful city, from the weird and wacky to the historical and cultural, the possibilities are endless. While the train network in Japan is exceptional, a journey from Tokyo to Sapporo will take you upwards of eight hours so flying is recommended. 

Flying is the best option if heading north, however, trains and buses will get you around Honshu comfortably and conveniently. Shuttle buses are convenient, you will generally find a direct service from the airport to the main ski resorts of Nagano and Niigata. Ideal after a long flight, especially with excess luggage or with kids in tow. If you are feeling more adventurous then the world famous shinkansen is highly recommended. Travelling at speeds of up to 320kms/hr, the shinkansen is exceptionally clean, extremely comfortable and always reliable. The JR East 5-Day Flexi Rail Pass is a great option to get you to and from Nagano as well as additional days around Tokyo. 

For those venturing out of the neon lights of Tokyo, consider an All Japan Rail Pass for unlimited travel on the Shinkansen. With the option of 7, 14 or 21 consecutive days, there is a rail pass for every itinerary. Only 2.5 hours from Tokyo you will find the historical city of Kyoto, a beautiful destination to immerse yourself in the tradition and culture of years gone by. With a lot to see and do, you will need at least three days to take it all in. 

A further 2 hours on the shinkansen from Kyoto you will find the city of Hiroshima, where the first of the two atomic bombs were dropped during World War II. The Memorial Peace Park and Museum are a somber experience but a part of history that should never be forgotten. Easily accessible on a day trip or overnight stay from Kyoto.

If tradition and history aren’t your thing but you still want to experience Japanese culture then you can’t go past the vibrant city of Osaka. Known to have the best food and nightlife in Japan as well as some of the most outgoing and friendly locals. 

If time is not on your side, the journey to Osaka and Kyoto might feel a little rushed. If this is the case, you will find the beautiful city of Kanazawa just over an hour from Nagano on the bullet train. A small city yet steeped in tradition and culture, it will leave you with a true Japanese experience.

No matter where you travel in this wonderful country, you will not leave disappointed. You will find welcoming hospitality, clean streets, efficient transport, delicious foods, strong drinks and friendly smiles everywhere you go. 

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