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Japan Research Trip

My latest research trip was to Japan.  A country that has a lot of memories for me.  We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in Tokyo and decided to go back 15 years later to celebrate No. 40.
After flying direct to Tokyo from Brisbane, courtesy of the new flights by Qantas, we stayed a few days in Shinjuku, a very busy part of Tokyo but exciting to walk around at night.  The best thing about Japan is that it's so safe.  People are just beautiful and friendly.  Although there was a bit a language barrier, they tried so hard to help a couple of lost Aussies navigate the train schedules.
A must-do is the bus tour to Mt Fuji which included a traditional Japanese lunch at the Oshino Ninja School.  Even though Fuji-san did not appear that day, the visit to the 5th station was well worth it.  The surrounding cities and lakes were just breath-taking.  Another highlight of the day was a visit to Fuji-Q theme park where we experienced a 3D flyover of Mt Fuji through the four seasons.  An amazing experience.
After a couple of days in Tokyo, we travelled to Yokohama to board the "Diamond Princess" for an 18 night cruise around the four islands as well as a stop in Busan, South Korea and Korsakov, Russia.  The ship is primarily for the Japanese market and was bi-lingual.  My grasp of the Japanese language improved somewhat over the course of the cruise.
Some of the other ports visited were, Hakodate, Shimizu, Kochi, Nagasaki, Otaru, Kushiro, Shiretoko Peninsula, Muroran and Aomori.  It was also time for the Neputa Festival in our last port Aomori.  Traditionally this is a time for the farmers and their families to celebrate the long hot summer and get ready for Autumn.  Massive 3D floats powered by humans and illuminated by giant generators grace the streets in a festival of colour and drums.  Some of the floats were as wide a road and several stories high. 
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The Diamond Princess did not disappoint with first class entertainment on board, language, origami and sushi making classes.  The ports of call also gave cruisers "free" kimono classes, dressed by a traditional Kimono teacher.  
This 21 day research trip was one I will certainly not forget.  TOP Tips - learn a little of the language before you go, and if you ask for directions, get them to write in Japanese and English!
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Research Trip Written by our lovely Barb!
Barbara Tollenaere - International Travel Consultant