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  4. From Down Under to the Land of the Rising Sun: Japan Travel Guide

From Down Under to the Land of the Rising Sun: Japan Travel Guide

July 26, 2023

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Travel to Japan from Australia

From the electric energy of Tokyo to the snow-capped wonders of Sapporo and the culinary delights of historic Osaka, Japan offers an endless array of experiences for adventurers, foodies and culture-seekers alike.

With Sydney Airport as your starting point, hop on a direct flight to Tokyo and let your adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun begin. Embark on a journey through the vibrant cities of Tokyo, Sapporo, and Osaka with our insider's guide to Japan.

Sydney to Tokyo: The Fusion of Tradition and Modernity

Fall asleep as you set off from Sydney and awake to the sun rising above the Tokyo skyline in just under 10 hours. Stepping outside Haneda Airport, you'll be instantly swept away by this bustling metropolis where modern technology meets age-old tradition.

With an abundance of attractions and things to do in Tokyo, where does one begin? Look no further than Tokyo Tower. This striking red landmark stretches 333 metres high, just 3 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower, offering a captivating bird's eye view of Tokyo with Mount Fuji looming in the distance. From the sky to the Sumida River, hop on a water bus and spot some of the city's most famous sights, including Tokyo Skytree and Rainbow Bridge.

Delve into Tokyo's rich cultural experiences with a traditional tea ceremony, relax in one of the city's serene bath houses or experience the elaborate costumes and dances of traditional Kabuki theatre. Take a rickshaw ride or stroll through the charming streets of Asakusa, stepping through 1000-year-old Kaminari Gate to explore one of Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temples—Sensoji.

From ancient temples to brightly lit billboards, Tokyo is a city of contrasts. Get caught up in the frenetic energy of the famous Shibuya Crossing, the busiest intersection in the world. Or immerse yourself in the colourful subcultures of nearby Harajuku, Tokyo's fashion district, with vibrant streets lined with vintage shops and luxury boutiques. Indulge your inner child with a day at Tokyo Disneyland or head to the city's quirky Akihabara district—a haven for anime and gaming enthusiasts.

Tsukiji Outer Market is Tokyo's favourite foodie destination, where you'll find a range of lively street vendors and restaurants tucked down narrow side streets, selling freshly sliced sashimi, sushi and delicious barbeque skewers. And for revellers looking to hit the town, Roppongi is a neighbourhood best known for its nightlife with a range of Michelin-star restaurants, exciting bar-lined streets and late-night dance clubs.

Tokyo to Osaka: A Culinary Adventure

Travel from Tokyo to Osaka in style on board the world-renowned bullet train, or Shinkansen, with a journey time between 2.5 to 3 hours. There are also quick and easy domestic flights which will get you to Osaka in under 2 hours.

Fondly known as the 'kitchen of Japan', Osaka is a paradise for food lovers. And while brimming with culinary experiences, the city is also known for its vibrant culture and history, with ancient shrines, lively shopping districts and unique landmarks like the Umeda Sky Building and Tsutenkaku—the Eiffel Tower of Osaka.

Sitting at the heart of Osaka's street food culture is the Dotonbori district, a neon-lit culinary wonderland filled with bustling crowds and enticing aromas. Be greeted by the iconic Glico Running Man sign as you venture through the dazzling streets, sampling a range of local favourites from takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes) to Kushikatsu (skewered delights).

For the ultimate cultural experience, visit Osaka Castle, a spectacular 5-storey structure dating back to the 1500s. The historic castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens that burst into a sea of cherry blossoms in spring, with a museum featuring artefacts reflecting the rich history of the castle and Osaka. Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is another of Osaka's most revered and historic landmarks, offering a peaceful oasis away from the bustling city.

Traveling with the family? Embrace the playful spirit of the city with the aquatic wonders of Osaka Aquarium, the thrilling rides at Universal Studios Japan, a captivating Kabuki performance at Shochikuza Theatre or a traditional Japanese puppet show at the National Bunraku Theatre.

Amerikamura, often called "Amemura" by locals, is a hub of youth culture where creativity and individuality thrive. Winding through a maze of narrow streets adorned with colourful murals, you'll discover an array of boutique stores inspired by punk, goth, club and Lolita fashion. Nipponbashi, affectionately known as "Den Den Town," is another must-visit district in Osaka. Surrounded by all things anime and manga, the neighbourhood is home to multi-storey arcades filled with retro and modern gaming treasures.

Osaka to Saporro: The Winter Wonderland

Heading north? The quickest and most convenient way to travel between Osaka and Sapporo is by hopping on a 2-hour ANA Wings flight. Alternatively, take the scenic route with a 7-8 hour journey through Japan's countryside on the bullet train, with a transfer required at Tokyo station.

For thrill-seekers—Sapporo is the ultimate winter wonderland, with several world-renowned ski resorts to show off your snowboarding skills. But as the snow starts to melt, the city begins to bloom, and Sapporo is transformed into a thriving summer destination with plenty of things to do, from scenic mountain hikes to exciting music festivals.

Located two hours from Sapporo, Niseko is one of the region's top ski resorts, with powdery slopes suitable for all skill levels and a lively resort town offering plenty of accommodation and après-ski options. The magical Sapporo Snow Festival, held each February, is one of Sapporo's seasonal highlights, with massive ice sculptures transforming the city into a mesmerising frozen gallery.

Sapporo is known for its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and delicious cuisine, making it the perfect year-round destination. First stop is the Sapporo Beer Museum—Japan's only museum dedicated to beer. Take a guided tour, learn about the history of brewing in Japan and the iconic Sapporo beer brand, see the brewing process up close, and sample different beer varieties in the tasting room.

Discover the city's abundance of historical and natural attractions, including the Hokkaido Shrine, surrounded by peaceful gardens that fill with cherry blossoms between late April and early May. Odori Park is another charming green space stretching a kilometre through the city, separating the north and south. At the far end is the Sapporo TV Tower, with an observation deck perfect for capturing sunset views of the park and surrounding city.

After a long day exploring Sapporo, why not unwind in one of the city's soothing hot springs (onsen), rich in natural minerals known to rejuvenate both body and mind.

Flights to Tokyo from Sydney

ANA offers multiple flights throughout the week, with direct flights between Sydney and Tokyo. The airline is known for its exceptional service, comfortable seating, in-flight amenities and entertainment options. Don't miss the chance to fly with All Nippon Airways on the famous Pikachu Jet, a Pokemon-inspired in-flight experience.

When travelling from Sydney to Tokyo, Sydney Airport's range of services and amenities can help ensure you're prepped, relaxed and ready for take off. Browse Heinemann Duty Free and the terminal's designer boutiques, from Dior and Gucci to Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta. Grab the latest tech gadgets from JB Hi-Fi and all your last-minute essentials from WHSmith and Amcal Pharmacy.

Enjoy a coffee and croissant from Toby's Estate, a quick bite at Taste of Thai, SumoSalad, Bar Roma, HeroSushi or Hungry Jacks, or a gourmet meal at The Bistro by Wolfgang Puck. Relax with a drink at Sydney Airport's range of bars or unwind in one of the luxurious airline lounges.

From the bustling streets of Tokyo, with its eclectic mix of old and new, to the snowy landscapes and historic shrines of Sapporo, and the culinary delights of Osaka, Japan offers a range of rich and wonderful experiences to suit all travellers. Whether a food-lover, thrill-seeker or city explorer, Japan promises a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

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