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Famil REVIEW: JNTO hosts Aussie agents in Kyushu


MARK HARADA provides an exclusive report for Traveltalk from a Japan famil that left guests with full stomachs, heads and hearts.

Front, left to right: Isabella Hansson (Japan Package Tours), Sekha Walsh (itravel) and Anait Grigoryan (JTB); Back, left to right: Julie Savill (Travel Counsellors), Ben Jeffries (Flight Centre), Tionne Bassett (Qantas Holidays), Anne Lane (New England T

  

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) recently hosted ten Australian travel agents and wholesalers in the Japanese island of Kyushu as part of the JNTO E-Learning Agent Famil.

 

During the nearly week-long trip, the agents, who hailed from Flight Centre, itravel, Qantas Holidays, Insider Journeys and Travel Counsellors among others, experienced the best of what Japan’s third largest island has to offer, from onsen (hot springs) to Shinkansen (bullet train) and numerous kaiseki (small plate meals). 

 

Here’s a rundown of the journey:

 

Kyudo in Akizuki

 

Day 1

After touching down in Fukuoka the night before, we travelled to Akizuki Castle Ruins. Though there isn’t really anything left of the castle, the town of Akizuki has some quaint tree-lined streets filled with shops and eateries. Whilst here, we also happened upon a kyudo (Japanese archery) tournament (or festival?). 

After this, we visited Kamado Shrine, which is almost hidden among gorgeous autumn leaves, before making our way to Daizaifu, where we lunched at Umenohana (tofu restaurant), payed our respects at famous Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine, and browsed the wonderful shop-lined main street.

Back in Fukuoka, we had dinner on one of Fukuoka’s famous Yatai (food stall) streets.

Read our story from Daizaifu

Hotel: Miyako Hotel Hakata

 

‘Spectacles’ Bridge

 

Day 2

Today, we travelled by train to Nagasaki, where we began our tour of the city with a sombre visit to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park. 

Afterwards, we saw some of the cute bridges that line Nakashima River, including the oldest stone arch bridge in Japan, Meganebashi (Spectacles) Bridge, before dropping into the 26 Martyr’s Museum, dedicated to the infamous execution of Christian missionaries in 1597.  

We finished the day by visiting Mt Inasa, via the scenic Inasayama Cable Car. From its peak, Mt Inasa offers one of the best cityscape views in the world, especially at night. 

Dinner at the French-inspired Hydrangea Restaurant proves good food here goes way beyond Japanese fare too.

Read our story from Nagasaki

Hotel: Hotel New Nagasaki

 

Smiling in hell

 

Day 3

After a pretty three-hour drive, we arrived in the famed onsen city of Beppu.

In the afternoon we visited Takasakiyama Monkey Park, where we encountered (surprise, surprise) hundreds of zaru (Japanese monkeys) in a natural forested environment. 

Following this, among the city’s countless plumes of steam, we popped in to the ‘Hells of Beppu’, which are ‘themed’ hot springs. Umi (Ocean) Hell, for instance, is named for its azure-like appearance, while steaming clay is responsible for the (menacing) reddish Chinoike Hell. 

Back at our hotel, we had the opportunity to experience onsen in which you can actually bathe, as well as a kaiseki dinner, for which the entire group donned yukata (casual kimono). 

Accommodation was in traditional Japanese rooms, complete with tatami mats, shoji screens and futons.

Read our story from Beppu

Hotel: Sansuikan Hotel Beppu

 

Yufuin

 

Day 4

Today saw us travel from Beppu to Daikanbou Lookout near Kumamoto, which overlooks Mt Aso volcano and its giant caldera. 

After a quick visit to Aso Shrine and lunch in cute Aso Village, we stopped into the charming town of Yufuin, which would become one of the highlights of the trip. Here, long lanes laden with eateries, galleries and shopping, draw local and international tourists alike, while lining pretty Kinrin Lake, autumn leaves provide the perfect postcard picture. This place is definitely worth visiting again - next time to overnight in one of its onsen inns.

Read our story from Yufuin

Hotel: Hotels & Resorts Beppuwan 

 

Travelling on the Shinkansen

 

Day 5

After driving from Beppu to Kita Kyushu, we hopped a Shinkansen to Kagoshima, which had everyone excited. For many, it was their first ride aboard the original bullet train. 

Upon arrival in the southern Kyushu city, we went straight to Senganen, the former garden and residence of the influential Shimazu Clan. Overlooking the distant but still clearly visible Sakurajima volcano, we lunched at Senganen’s excellent Ohkatei restaurant, before wandering the grounds of the spectacular gardens and homestead. 

Our visit ended with a quick stop at the adjacent Shoko Shuseikan Museum, which details the importance of this region in Japan’s rise as an industrial superpower. 

The day was completed with a hot spring bath in the hotel overlooking the city, Kinko Bay and Sakurajima - a wonderful way to end a wonderful famil.

Read our story from Senganen.

Hotel: Shiroyama Hotel Kagoshima

 

The writer was a guest of JNTO.

 

Hot spring foot bath in Beppu

 

 


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Written by: Mark Harada

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