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Japan 101

April 1, 2006 By: Camie Foster Home-Based Travel Agent

How to work with first-time visitors to the Land of the Rising Sun

The buzz surrounding the release of the film version of Memoirs of a Geisha and its recent Academy Awards may have intrigued your clients enough to start them thinking about a vacation to Japan.

But there are countless reasons to visit Japan. Its history, heritage and culture exude a powerful appeal, and even first-timers will find there's so much to see and do that they can focus on a particular region or interest. Visitors flock to Senso-ji temple in Tokyo.

While it's possible to spend one's entire time in the key destinations of Tokyo or Kyoto, travelers who are making their first trip to Japan and spending at least a week there will be well-served if you encourage them to visit multiple destinations. Kyoto is considered the cultural center of Japan. (Above) Children at a festival in Kyoto.

Depending on their specific interests, mobility and time, you can set clients up with an itinerary that has them staying in two or three locales and exploring the sights in that manner; or basing themselves in one locale and exploring points near and far by subway, cab, or train.

A Guided Experience

Also based on your clients' interests and needs, you may opt to suggest a tour for all or part of their stay. Travelers who want the sense of exploring on their own may be happiest with a hybrid approach that provides them with the expertise and convenience of a guided experience for part of the trip before setting off on their own. Guided activities are another option to consider. Resources

And if your client list includes people who travel to Japan on business, suggest they extend their stay for several days. If they just have a day or two of leisure, it's probably better to advise them to extend in whichever city they're in. Aside from pointing out the abundance of sights and locations that are a walk or short ride away, alert your clients to the efficiency of Japan's train system. They're likely to be pleasantly surprised by the number of enticing attractions that are within an hour or two's reach by high-speed train.

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