Japan: Looking for a stunning travel incentive?
Our World | On 06, Oct 2011
Japan has always been on my “must see before I die” mental tick list, so when the opportunity came up to accept an invitation from JNTO – Japan National Tourism Organization, I jumped at the chance.
We started our journey in style flying Business Class on the new British Airways route into Haneda Airport. Haneda is located just 30 minutes from downtown Tokyo, whereas Narita is located 90 minutes away. I was feeling lots of love for the short transfer at 5am as we made our way to the Mandarin Oriental.
Located on the 38th floor, the stunning panoramic views are really breathtaking. Mandarin Oriental luxury is everywhere, from the public areas, the restaurants, the award winning spa and of course the guest rooms. Comfort and opulence, the perfect combination after a long haul flight.
Tokyo wasn’t exactly how I imagined it to be, but what I experienced was really amazing. The city is a happening mish mash of crowds, neon lights, amazing restaurants and countless challenges to your senses. From the pungent stench of the fish market, to being a ring side spectator at the most random Sumo wrestling tournament, to the stomach churning views from the Tokyo City View Observatory, to the spirituality of the Meiji Shrine to Taiko drumming until my fingers blistered – we just did not stop. Oh, and not to forget my mediation lesson by a Buddhist monk who I now follow on Twitter.
It was welcome light relief for a short rest when I boarded the bullet train to Kyoto. At speeds of 200 km per hour, within 2 hours 20 minutes we were in Kyoto. Here I found the Japan that I imagined.
What an amazing city. Traditional houses, old streets, kimonos, Tea Houses and rickshaws. In my whirlwind stay in Kyoto I experienced probably the most memorable episode of my travels to date – entertainment by a Keisha girl. All of the mystery and intrigue are true, these beautiful creatures are conditioned to make every person (male or female) feel that they are the most important creature on earth. Now I get it, an uncomplicated evening of good company, drinking games and flirting. Genius.
From Kyoto back to Tokyo for a few hours rest at the Conrad Hotel. Another gem with views to die for and a Michelin star Chinese restaurant. A short but well received rest before the silly o’clock departure home of my British Airways flight to London.
Looking back at my photos, it’s hard to believe that I experienced so much in such a short space of time! Japan (done correctly) is a fascinating country that has such a vast array of options that one visit is simply not enough. You will be left feeling desperate to return…I am already plotting my next trip.
Sarah Stanyer, Events Team