GREAT JAPAN ESCAPES
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.