GREAT JA­PAN ES­CAPES

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination -

United front: This year marks the 50th an­niver­sary of the first sis­ter­city re­la­tion­ship for Ja­pan and Aus­tralia, be­tween the city of Yam­a­to­takada in Kan­sai’s Nara Pre­fec­ture and Lis­more in north­east NSW. In the decades since its es­tab­lish­ment, more than 109 sim­i­lar twin-city re­la­tion­ships have been forged. To boost bi­lat­eral tourism co-op­er­a­tion, a range of pro­mo­tions and spe­cial events has been or­gan­ised in both coun­tries as part of the Aus­trali­aJa­pan Tourism Ex­change Year 2013. ‘‘[The Ja­pan National Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion] will step up pro­mo­tions tar­get­ing fam­i­lies and skiers, as well as pro­mot­ing school trips as a way of mu­tual ex­change,’’ says JNTO pres­i­dent Ry­oichi Mat­suyama. ‘‘We look for­ward to strength­en­ing our part­ner­ship with Tourism Aus­tralia . . . and boost­ing the flow of tourism be­tween Ja­pan and Aus­tralia, mak­ing it a fruit­ful year for both coun­tries.’’ More: jnto.org.au. Makes snow sense: Be quick and book by Au­gust 31 to re­ceive 30 per cent off a stay at the ski-in, ski-out Hil­ton Niseko Vil­lage on the north­ern­most is­land of Hokkaido, plus 25 per cent off food and drinks for stays of seven nights or more and free air­port trans­fers for hol­i­day book­ings of 10 nights or more. The deal ap­plies to stan­dard and deluxe rooms only, for ac­com­mo­da­tion through­out the 2013-14 ski sea­son. Dis­counted stan­dard rooms from $105 a per­son a night twin-share; deluxe rooms from $125. Trav­elplan also of­fers guests free two-hour Moun­tain Ori­en­ta­tion Tours, avail­able twice-weekly be­tween De­cem­ber 15 and March 23, at the Niseko In­ter­na­tional Ski School. More: 1300 754 754; trav­elplan.com.au. For cul­ture vul­tures: Save 15 per cent on a Ja­pan Art, Ar­chi­tec­ture & Cul­ture Tour from Septem­ber 19-28 if you book and pay by Au­gust 17. The 10-day es­corted itin­er­ary in­cludes cul­tural, artis­tic, ar­chi­tec­tural and culi­nary high­lights in Tokyo and Ky­oto; $3272 a per­son twin-share (in­clud­ing dis­count), ex­clud­ing air­fares and meals. More: japa­nar­chi­tec­ture­tours.com. Sake and sushi: Learn to make sushi in Tokyo, sam­ple sake in Takayama, have din­ner at a ryokan in Ky­oto and visit a wasabi farm in Mat­sumoto as part of a 2014 13-day Splen­dours of Ja­pan with Hiroshima guided tour from Trafal­gar. From $7350 a per­son twin-share, land only; save up to $551 a per­son if you book and pay by Oc­to­ber 31. Valid for de­par­tures from March 16-Oc­to­ber 19. More: 1300 663 043; trafal­gar.com.

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