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The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MATTA FAIR -

JA­PAN, the Land of the Ris­ing Sun, re­mains as one of the most pop­u­lar hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions for first- timers as well as re­peat trav­ellers. It is a fan­tas­tic desti­na­tion for trav­ellers hop­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence a uniquely dif­fer­ent way of life. It boasts of scenic land­scapes, unique tra­di­tions, well- loved dishes, best- pre­served her­itage sites, soar­ing sky­scrapers, vi­brant cityscapes and mod­ern at­trac­tions.

Com­bined with its ef­fi­cient pub­lic trans­porta­tion net­work, es­pe­cially within metropoli­tan ar­eas and be­tween the large cities, it’s no won­der that trav­ellers are keener than ever to get their own taste of this en­chant­ing is­land coun­try.

To make sure you get the most of your trip, Hol­i­day Tours has pack­aged up a list of itin­er­ar­ies for you to ex­plore the nooks and cran­nies of this amaz­ing coun­try on a rail pass. Choose from six itin­er­ar­ies com­plete with a rail pass, ac­com­mo­da­tion and sug­gested itin­er­ar­ies, from the north in Hokkaido to the ev­er­green Kanto pre­fec­ture ( Tokyo area), Kan­sai pre­fec­ture ( OsakaKy­oto) and even Kyushu in the south.

Start off your jour­ney in Ja­pan’s cap­i­tal city, Tokyo with the Five- Day Best of Chiba rail pack­age where you will stay a night at Kawaguchi and three nights in Tokyo. Lake Kawaguchi is one of the five lakes of Mount Fuji and you can be en­sured of mag­nif­i­cent views of this icon of Ja­pan dur­ing your stay.

An in­cluded sight­see­ing bus at Kawaguchi lets you ex­plore the many at­trac­tions here, in­clud­ing a mu­seum, mu­sic for­est and more.

Head­ing back to Tokyo, your pack­age in­cludes en­trance to the Nikko Edo Won­der­land, a theme park where you can

Free and easy Ja­pan rail tour­ing:

re- live life dur­ing the “Edo” pe­riod.

An­other pop­u­lar op­tion with Malaysians is the Five- day Best of Hokkaido rail pack­age with one night stay each in the hot spring town of No­bori­betsu, in Hako­date, Hokkaido’s third largest city, and also in Niseko and Sap­poro.

If your start­ing point is from Osaka, then check out the Five- day Dragon Route rail pack­age. The jour­ney starts with a short train ride to the his­toric city of Ky­oto for a night’s stay. Aside from vis­it­ing Ky­oto’s his­toric sites, one should also take the op­por­tu­nity to visit Sagano Bam­boo For­est, Shi­rakawa River, Ky­oto Tower and Nishiki Mar­ket. You will also stay a night each at Kanazawa, Takayama and Gero.

From Takayama, one of the main at­trac­tions is the pic­turesque moun­tain vil­lage of Shi­rakawago with its thatched roofs Gasshostyle houses re­mind­ing us of an­cient Ja­pan.

If your in­ten­tion is to dis­cover Osaka city, which is known for its his­toric sites, shop­ping and culi­nary de­lights, then get­ting your­self a two- day Osaka

Cos­mopoli­tan Osaka:

Amaz­ing Pass at Hol­i­day Tours is a must. A con­ve­nient sight­see­ing trans­porta­tion ticket, the Osaka Amaz­ing Pass not only lets you ex­plore Osaka on its trains and buses but also pro­vides free en­trance to 28 at­trac­tions such as the Osaka Cas­tle, the Umeda Sky Build­ing, river and har­bour cruises, zoo, mu­se­ums and many more.

That’s not all, at he two- day pass at RM115 also in­cludes dis­counts to other at­trac­tions, din­ing and shop­ping.

An­other pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tion in Osaka is Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios Ja­pan; a theme park filled with world- class fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment for all ages. Each area is uniquely themed and of­fers ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­pe­ri­ences that im­press and in­spire vis­i­tors. En­joy a wide va­ri­ety of en­ter­tain­ment of­fer­ings from the ex­cit­ing themed at­trac­tions such as Harry Pot­ter, Juras­sic Park, Spi­der­man and more.

If you are trav­el­ling with a small group of fam­ily and friends, then check out the “Colours of Ja­pan” op­tion. Spe­cially pack­aged for a min­i­mum group of six per­son, op­tions in­clude the Five- day Ex­plor­ing Hokkaido itin­er­ary. Your jour­ney be­gins with a meet and greet by a lo­cal guide at New Chitose Air­port be­fore head­ing off to No­bori­betsu by train. Visit the Date Jidaimura his­tor­i­cal theme park where you can ex­pe­ri­ence city life in the “Edo” pe­riod.

You will also visit No­bori­betsu Jigoku­dani, a val­ley just above the town of which dis­plays hot steam vents, sul­furous streams

Small group travel:

and boil­ing ponds, the main source of No­bori­betsu’s hot spring wa­ters. Other in­ter­est­ing vis­its in­clude the Tomita Farm, a year- round flower park where you can see all dif­fer­ent kinds of colour­ful flow­ers.

There is also a one- day Otaru sight­see­ing tour where you can stroll along the Otaru Canal and take in the beau­ti­ful sights.

An­other op­tion is the Five- day Ex­plor­ing Shiga itin­er­ary. Shiga Pre­fec­ture is one of the most fun places to visit in Ja­pan with ev­ery­thing from his­toric cas­tles, tem­ples and shrines to out­door ac­tiv­i­ties such as hik­ing, cy­cling and more. Start­ing at Kan­sai Air­port, trans­fer by train to Hikone where the first stop is the Hikone- jo Cas­tle; one of the few orig­i­nal cas­tles left re­main­ing in Ja­pan show­cas­ing an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of Ja­panese cas­tle ar­chi­tec­ture.

From Hikone, de­part for Omi­hachima where you will take the Hachima- bori Canal cruise and walk around the canal which once flour­ished as a town­scape of Omi mer­chants. The next stop is Koka, a fa­mous Ninja Vil­lage where you can ex­pe­ri­ence ninja cul­ture. Other in­cluded sights are Moriyama where you can en­joy veg­etable or fruit pick­ing or buy fresh lo­cal veg­eta­bles at the Ja Omi- Fuji Farm­ers Mar­kets.

From here, visit Ky­oto and see one of the most fa­mous tem­ples in Ky­oto, the Kiy­omizu Tem­ple built at the end of the eighth cen­tury.

For de­tails, look out for Hol­i­day Tours ad­ver­tise­ment in this StarSpe­cial.

The unique Gassho- styled thatched homes of the shi­rakawago moun­tain vil­lage.

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