Japan had always been on my bucket list so when the opportunity arose to visit, I jumped at it! I was not disappointed.
Flying in business class with Japan Airlines from Sydney to Narita I didn’t know what to expect, having never flown up the pointy end of the aircraft before.
I was blown away by the exceptional level of service provided from the minute we checked in and onboard. All seats had direct aisle access, choice of menu (Japanese or Western) and extensive in-flight entertainment, all which made for a very comfortable flight.
We were met on arrival in Tokyo by Kazuyo McDonald, our host from Prince Hotels, and transferred to the Sunshine City Prince Hotel, ahead of our trip the following morning to Japan’s northern-most island, Hokkaido.
Norie Sugisaki, our host from Japan Airlines, had arranged a JAL Sky Museum tour just a short train ride from Narita. This was a perfect option while waiting for our onward flight to Hokkaido.
The Museum was fascinating as it detailed the history of the airline over the last 60 years. Historical cabin crew uniforms and equipment were on display but a visit to the hangar where the old aircraft were kept was definitely a highlight, seeing how aviation has progressed.
Upon arrival into Hakodate in Hokkaido, we were transferred to the Onuma Prince Hotel for our two-night stay.
This hotel is nestled inside a nature reserve which allows for their guests to enjoy forest walks, ziplining adventures, golf and a Nishionuma onsen ‘morinoyu’ experience, a traditional hot spring therapy used to restore wellness. This hotel is perfect for those wanting a little R&R in between the busy city stays Japan is known for.
Next we headed to Sapporo with some sightseeing along the way at Lake Toya, a volcanic caldera lake in Shikotsu-Toya National Park, for a photo opportunity.
Then it was onto a gelato shop with all the weird and wonderful flavour combinations you could only expect from Japan, such as sweet corn, kidney bean and pumpkin.
Our last day in Sapporo included a visit to Tomita Farm in Furano, which is best known for its lavender fields. The whole region was awash with the incredibly colourful hues of purple and mauve and the air was filled with the relaxing scent.
Shirogane Blue Pond was also on the agenda. Built initially to protect the township of Biei from volcanic mudflows, it now emanates an incredible blue shimmer due to the natural minerals in the water.
Our journey ended with a free day in Tokyo where I navigated the metro system to Harajuku, a colourful and quirky area renowned for its vintage clothing stores and street art.
The Shibuya Crossing (the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing) provided us with another challenge, but in true travel agent style, we conquered it without difficulty.
Finally, it is important to mention the incredible hospitality and friendliness of the Japanese people. They go out of their way to extend a warm welcome to their visitors and are proud of their country and culture.
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