When was the last time I visited Japan?
Gosh, it has been so long ago that I can hardly remember. All I know is the wifey was still my girlfriend then. Yes, extremely long long time ago.
So I would think most of my readers are probably better experts than me when it comes to travelling to Japan. And I think I can count on all of you for recommendations when I am planning a trip to Japan, no? :)
Because that's what we usually do when we are planning an itinerary for an upcoming trip - we ask for recommendations from our friends, colleagues and family members who have been to that particular country before.
Sure, there are plentiful of online travel guides and 'Best of... Must try... Top 10...' listicles out there but nothing beats learning about an overseas attraction - whether it is a popular or off-the-beaten-track one - from a person who had experienced it first-hand before.
And that is precisely why JAPAN by Japan is a HUGE lifesaver (and time-saver) for me when I am planning a trip there.
A newly-launched website by the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO), JAPAN by Japan serves to promote Japan tourism to Singaporeans - but in a very unique manner.
The digital portal is NOT a travel guide written by travel writers. Instead, all content on the site - from attractions to blog posts, are written by Japanese locals. So expect to uncover many of Japan’s best-kept secrets, as recommended by Japanese locals themselves.
And all it takes is one easy sign-up!
Once I have signed up, the site displays displays the attractions in Japan tailored to my interests, ranging from food and shopping, to sightseeing and outdoors. One can also filter the attractions according to traveller types so whether you are a solo or family traveller, you will find content that is relevant to you.
No time to keep browsing through the attractions? Just head to the 'Top 50' page which displays the Top 50 attractions that entice Singaporeans most, from a ranking system that is refreshed on a daily basis.
For me though, the best part of the website is the ability to create Wanderlists. Think of it as a 'To-visit' list where I can curate the attractions that I would love to visit and compile them into a list so that I can refer to it later... or make it public and share it with everyone too!
If you see an attraction that you like, click 'Save' on the top right corner of the attraction page and save it to your Wanderlist.
Creating a Wanderlist is so easy that even the monkies wanted to be part of the decision-making process. First, we had to identify a region in Japan that we wish to travel to. In our case, we picked Osaka and evidently with 3 kids now, including family-friendly attractions ranks top when it comes to travelling.
And the more I researched on Osaka, I realised that there are actually plenty of other kid-friendly choices in neighbouring Kyoto. Nara and Kobe areas as well. So after a discussion with everyone in the family, we picked 5 attractions and these include a little-known campsite with obstacle courses, one of the Top 3 divine waterfalls in Japan, and quirky museums involving trains and instant noodles!
You can check out my full Wanderlist HERE.
A nifty feature that I love about the Wanderlist is it also marks out the locations of the attractions on a map. This way, I will be able to have a sense of the distance between the 5 attractions and plan my itinerary accordingly. Very helpful indeed!
And if you wish to put together your own Japan Wanderlist too, there is no better time than to DO IT NOW!
That's because you will stand a chance to turn that list into reality - a pair of direct return tickets to Japan! There are also consolation prizes in the form of Canon EOS M10 cameras but who are we kidding - the Japan air tickets is the real biggie!
If I got your attention, this is what you need to do to participate in the Japan Dreaming contest:
Simply create an account to begin exploring the many different attractions of Japan. Put together your very own Japan Dreaming Wanderlist with 5 of your favourite attractions selected from the website. Add on a compelling caption on why you should win, then share on your Facebook to qualify.
Each participant is allowed to submit one Wanderlist per week. New Wanderlists can be created and submitted the following Tuesday of each week. Winners will be announced on 21 March 2017 on the website, and contacted via email.
Head to japanbyjapan.com for more details. GOOD LUCK!