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Welcome Year of the Tiger!

2021 certainly brought new challenges and Australians faced these challenges with strength and resilience. So bring on 2022 and the year of the tiger denoting strength, growth and courage in the face of challenges! We are hopeful that the year ahead will bring us closer to resuming international travel, especially the return of travel to Japan. Whilst we are certainly facing ongoing challenges we are also encouraged by teachers and their students who are keen to organise a school tour and are requesting quotes for travel towards the end of the year.

Japan welcomed this 2022 New Year a little more subdued but still with traditional customs and celebrations. Auspicious new year decorations were hung, toshikoshi soba (long, good luck noodles) were eaten, nengajō new year postcards were sent, hatsumōde first visits were made to temples and shrines, fukubukuro new year lucky bags were purchased and families celebrated with special osechi ryōri meals served in elaborate multi-tiered lacquered boxes.

Like Australia there was hope that the new year will bring a new beginning. However, similar to Australia, Omicron has caused countries to shut borders in order to prevent the spread of this new variant of covid. Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida recently introduced a ban on foreign tourists entering Japan until the end of February. He said that thanks to the strict border rules in G7 countries Japan has been able to keep the spread of Omicron to a minimum level. Whilst I am disappointed that this current wave has temporarily prevented tourists travelling to Japan I believe, like in Australia, these stricter controls will lead to safer travel between our countries in the near future.

In the meantime, whilst we are not able to travel to Japan, we can still enjoy Japanese experiences in Australia. Recently I travelled to Tasmania for a holiday. Whilst in Hobart I visited the stunning Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). I prebooked the restaurant experience at MONA’s Faro Bar & Restaurant. Every couple of months Faro changes its menu and restaurant entertainment and so I was very excited to find the current menu and experience was “Tokyo Punk”. What a delight this was for a Japan aficionado! The menu matched the restaurant’s eclectic entertainment. The menu was a superb mix of traditional and fusion Japanese food, beautifully presented with matching wines. In between the multitude of courses was an upbeat show of punk Japanese and traditional Japanese entertainment beautifully woven to include audience participation. If you live in Tasmania or are lucky to be visiting on holiday I cannot recommend this more highly. The current ‘experience’ is showcased until 17 February and bookings are essential. Bookings can be made online at MONA’s website. Don’t miss it, you won’t be disappointed!

Lastly, if you are not quite ready to commit to student trips to Japan this year or next year then don't forget Saizen Tours has a "Taste of Japan" program on the Gold Coast.

If you are interested see our website or contact us for further details.

Here's to a new and brighter, safer and happier 2022!

Written by Rondell Herriot, Co-Managing Director Saizen Tours

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