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Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) recently invited seven Australasian agents to experience all that the Land of the Rising Sun has to offer. SARAH ARANE, Relationships and Solutions Manager at Crooked Compass, reports.

WITH JUST six days and a long to do list, our group knew they had a whirlwind luxury travel experience ahead…and everyone was up for the challenge.

Escorted by Sally Miles of JNTO, the group were also joined by local Japanese guide Satoko Tsushima – a human treasure trove of knowledge about Japan, and insights into travelling in her past guests’ shoes.

Along the way, the group were treated like royalty. Luxury cannot even begin to describe some of the incredible experiences we had, but even more excitingly, every single one of our experiences on the fam trip is able to be offered to clientele back home in Oz.

Starting in Tokyo, we were thrown into the hustle and bustle of the city before heading southwest along the coast to Mie Prefecture.

We continued to Kobe then travelled into Osaka before finishing our trip with an overnight stay at Koyasan – one of the most sacred temple towns in Japan. Here, we stayed the night in a Buddhist temple. 

Sleeping in five-star, jaw-dropping properties along the way, even hotel inspections were met with a chorus of WOW in every room.

From the six-star suites of the Okura Tokyo to the water view rooms at Shima Kanko Hotel in Mie, and even the traditional monastic-style lodgings at Koyasan, every overnight stay was memorable.

Many hotels took the opportunity during COVID to renovate and innovate, with some incredible features on offer – like MESM in Tokyo, who have created musical nostalgia with a piano in every room – to the ultra-funky W Osaka, offering a take on modern luxury with an energy that could best be described as a hyper-caffeinated rainbow.

Many a discussion was held by those travelling as to the biggest WOW moment and with each day the list of contenders grew and grew with Japan offering up incredible experience after incredible experience.

Some of the top candidates by the end of a whirlwind six days were the visit to teamLab Planets in Tokyo – a sensory experience that must be seen to be believed.

Other contenders included the sake tasting session at award-winning brewery Fukuju, or perhaps the Kobe beef dinner in Kobe where one agent proclaimed it to be the best steak they had ever eaten in their life.

For me, it was the overnight temple stay in Koyasan. Every moment we spent here was an incredible experience. The air was so fresh and clean, and the sense of peace surrounding you was captivating.

Our night tour through the ancient graveyard leading up to the resting place of the great Kobo Daishi was a deeply spiritual experience that still gives me goosebumps even writing about it.

On the flight back home and finally reflecting on ‘the week that was’, it became apparent that “luxury travel” is such a subjective term. The experiences that the JNTO luxury fam trip provided were so varied in style and interaction – it cements Japan as one of the destinations that guarantees every style of traveller will find their WOW.