Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Travel North Philippines - Best Value Group Tours

10 Day Northern Discovery (US$500/person) - Banaue/Sagada/Ilocos Norte and Sur/Pinatubo/Manila
15 Day Philippine Escape (US$900/person) - Banaue / Sagada / Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur/ Mount Pinatubo / Manila PLUS your choice of BORACAY or PALAWAN

PM us now for full details!
If you are group of 6-10 pax ready to go, you can choose your own dates! We will even knock $50 off for each person.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Beautiful Japan

Beautiful Japan

Japan, known as Nihon or Nippon (日本) in Japanese, is an island nation in East Asia.

Japan is conventionally divided into nine regions, listed here from north to south:
1. Hokkaido - northernmost island and snowy frontier. Famous for its wide open spaces and cold winters.
2. Tohoku - largely rural north-east part of the main island Honshu, best known for seafood, skiing and hot springs
3. Kanto - coastal plain of Honshu, includes the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama
4. Chubu - mountainous middle region of Honshu, dominated by the Japan Alps and Japan's fourth-largest city Nagoya
5. Kansai - western region of Honshu, ancient capital of culture and commerce, including the cities of Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Kobe
6. Chugoku - south-westernmost Honshu, a rural region best known for the cities of Hiroshima and Okayama, accessible by the Shinkansen.
7. Shikoku - smallest of the four main islands, a destination for Buddhist pilgrims, and Japan's best white-water rafting
8. Kyushu - southernmost of the four main islands, birthplace of Japanese civilization; largest cities Fukuoka and Kitakyushu
9. Okinawa - semi-tropical southern island chain reaching out toward Taiwan; formerly the independent Ryukyu Kingdom until it was annexed by Japan in 1879, its traditional customs and architecture are significantly different from the rest of Japan.


Japan has thousands of cities; these are nine of the most important to the traveller.
* Tokyo - the capital and main financial centre, modern and densely populated.
* Hiroshima - large port city, the first city to be destroyed by an atomic bomb
* Kanazawa - historic city on the west coast
* Kyoto - ancient capital of Japan, considered the cultural heart of the country, with many ancient Buddhist temples and gardens
* Nagasaki - ancient port city in Kyushu, the second city to be destroyed by an atom bomb
* Nara - first capital of a united Japan, with many Buddhist shrines, and historical buildings
* Osaka - large and dynamic city located in the Kansai region
* Sapporo - largest city in Hokkaido, famous for its snow festival
* Sendai - largest city in the Tohoku region, known as the city of forests due to its tree lined avenues and wooded hills

Other destinations

See Japan's Top 3 for some sights and places held in the high esteem by the Japanese themselves, and Off the beaten track in Japan for a selection of fascinating but less well known destinations throughout the country.
* Mount Fuji - iconic snow-topped volcano, and highest peak in Japan (3776 m)
* 88 Temple Pilgrimage - an arduous 1,647 km trail around the island of Shikoku
* Narrow Road to the Deep North - a route around northern Japan immortalized by Japan's most famous haiku poet

The Japanese

As an island nation shut off from the rest of the world for a long time (with mild exceptions from China and Korea), Japan is very homogeneous. Almost 99% of the population is of Japanese ethnicity. The largest minority are Koreans, around 1 million strong, many in their 3rd or 4th generations. There are also sizable populations of Chinese, Filipinos and Brazilians (mostly descendants of Japanese, the Japanese-Brazilian, also known as Nikkei). Though largely assimilated, the resident Chinese population maintains a presence in Japan's three Chinatowns in Kobe, Nagasaki and Yokohama. Indigenous ethnic minorities include the Ainu on Hokkaido, gradually driven north during the centuries and now numbering around 50,000 (although the number varies greatly depending on the exact definition used), and the Ryukyuan people of Okinawa.

The Japanese are well known for their politeness. Many Japanese are thrilled to have visitors to their country and are incredibly helpful to lost and bewildered-looking foreigners. Younger Japanese people are often extremely interested in meeting and becoming friends with foreigners as well. Do not be surprised if a Japanese person (usually of the opposite gender) approaches you in a public place and tries to initiate a conversation with you in somewhat coherent English. On the other hand many are not used to dealing with foreigners (外人 gaijin) and are more reserved and reluctant to communicate.

Visibly foreign visitors remain a rarity in much of Japan, and you will likely encounter moments when entering a shop causes the staff to seemingly panic and scurry off into the back. Don't take this as racism: they're just afraid that you'll try to address them in English and they'll be embarrassed because they can't understand or reply. A smile and a Konnichiwa ("Hello") often helps.