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Encounter Lutheran College, SA

Jen Biscoe - Teacher Middle & Senior School - Inclusive Learning Coordinator - October 2023

During the October holidays, 21 students and 3 staff from Encounter had an awesome visit to Japan, thanks to the help of Kellie from Saizen. I was feeling a little anxious taking such a large group to Japan, and being the first time organising such a trip. We had the pleasure of first visiting our sister school in Saga, then travelled to Hiroshima, Kyoto, Nara and Tokyo. 

 

The accommodation booked for our visit was exceptionally convenient to train stations and of high quality. We also made many restaurant bookings through Kellie at places I would never had known about. The students especially loved the Hiroshima Okonomiyaki and the interactive Yaki Niku and hot pot meals. Extra activities I requested were also added in, such as tea ceremony in Kyoto and a survivor talk at Hiroshima.

 

I also really appreciated that Saizen was easily reachable when any issues arose, and problems were solved stress free. I will definitely be using Saizen in the future! It took so much of the booking pressure off my hands and made the trip a breeze. And most importantly, all students loved the experience, want to learn the language more, and are making plans to return.

 

Thanks again Kellie and Saizen!'

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Benowa State High School, QLD

Cathryn Cooper - HOD Languages and International - September 2023

During the September holidays, Benowa SHS took a group of 20 students to Japan for two weeks. Despite chaperoning a number of school trips to Japan before, I was apprehensive about post-covid travel. Thanks to all of the expert advice received from Saizen, all fears were allayed and the trip could not have run more smoothly!

 

We maximised sightseeing opportunities everyday as we made our way from Tokyo to Osaka. Rondell was able to organise a private charter to our Sister School which alleviated the pressures of battling peak hour trains on our first day in country. Watching sumo was also a highlight of our trip this year. I believe that without the help from Saizen, we would not have managed to secure tickets for the Saturday competition so owe much gratitude for this experience.

 

We couldn’t have been more happy with the value for money and convenient location of our accommodation especially in Kyoto. Being in such close proximity to the train station made for efficient use of time, plenty of dinner options and a safe area for students to navigate during their free time.

 

I have worked with Rondell for more than 15 years and I cannot recommend her expert knowledge and services highly enough. Rondell’s advice prior to traveling in relation to post covid travel requirements, accommodation options, predeparture information and booking arrangements was faultless. Although working around the clock to support many school groups, there was nothing that was too much trouble for Rondell. Questions were always answered very quickly and the level of detail in planning at all stages was meticulous The electronic travel book was also very helpful and convenient to have on our phones. I would have no hesitation in using Saizen Tours again and look forward to starting the planning for our trip in 2025.

 Cannon Hill Anglican College, QLD

Peta Nakamura - Coordinator - Japanese - September 2023

The first tour after Covid was always going to be tricky, however with experienced operators like Saizen Tours on our side, our Japan Tour was a big success! I’ve been using Saizen Tours for 9 years now and have always found them to be very responsive and knowledgeable about the best way to manage groups in Japan. They fought hard to ensure that our big luggage could be sent from our sister school by truck to our onward accommodation in Kyoto, to enable us to travel lightly down to Hiroshima and Miyajima. Rondell was always only a phone call away. I always feel very supported by Saizen Tours both in the lead-up to the Tour and when on the ground in Japan.

 

From past experience, I was concerned about getting 28 students & 4 teachers around in Kyoto. Rondell suggested a private bus tour which did away with the stress and heat of catching the overcrowded city buses and trying to keep your group together. The air-conditioned bus tour through Kyoto on our last full day was a fabulous addition to our Tour and one that I will look at keeping into the future.

 

Rondell has great suggestions for accommodation and was able to find us some excellent hotels, including a fabulous traditional ryokan on Miyajima which the students and staff all enjoyed immensely.

I have no hesitation in recommending Saizen Tours. Teachers already have a full-time job teaching, so why not let the experts organise the travel!!

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Lutheran Ormeau Rivers District School, QLD

Jenny Van Engelen - Japanese Teacher /Pastoral Care- September 2023

As soon as travel restrictions eased, I couldn’t wait to get in touch with Rondell to organise our much-anticipated 2023 School Tour. With 18 students and 4 staff very keen to make up for lost time, we enjoyed a 10-day visit to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and Hiroshima during the September school holidays. Rondell organised fantastic hotel accommodation within walking distance of major train stations, enabling our group to enjoy day trips with ease. A highlight for our students was attending the Grand Sumo Tournament and marvelling at the sold-out arena and lively atmosphere – all thanks to Rondell scoring us much-sought-after public holiday tickets. Following the Sumo with a Chanko-nabe dinner was the icing on the cake, as the students enjoyed their own hotpot meal, sumo style!

 

Rondell’s extensive experience and insight also came into play with our Kyoto half-day tour, as she was able to organise a private tour for our group size at a similar price to joining a company coach tour. Our students loved the personal attention we received from our charming guide, Toshi, who gave us special tips so that we could make the most of our time at Kinkakuji and Kiyomizudera, and even walked us to the bamboo forest after our coach dropped us off, ensuring we did not get lost in the crowds. Rondell’s knowledge and perfect guide ‘match-making’ were very much appreciated!

 

Our school is already looking to our next tour in 2025 and we will definitely be engaging Saizen Tours for a fifth time! Rondell and her team understand the special level of responsibility teachers feel when taking students overseas, and so ensure every detail is prepared meticulously and with the needs of the school and students in mind – it is such a relief to feel so supported at every step of the Japan Tour planning journey, including every moment while in country. We can’t wait to work with Saizen again!

 

Ignatius Park College, QLD

Marita Matinez - Teacher - September 2023

I had the pleasure of working with Rondell from Saizen Tours to plan a school trip to Japan, and I couldn't be more impressed with her exceptional service. From the very beginning, she demonstrated a high level of professionalism and expertise in crafting a memorable experience for our school group.

Rondell meticulously planned every aspect of our trip, from coordinating flights and accommodation to arranging cultural excursions and activities. No request was too much for her and she ensured we kept within our budget without compromise. Her attention to detail ensured that our students had a safe and enriching experience throughout the journey.

Rondell arranged immersive experiences that allowed our students to engage with local traditions, interact with residents, and gain a deeper appreciation for the country.

I would recommend Rondell to anyone planning a school trip to Japan. Her commitment to creating a meaningful and unforgettable experience for our school group was truly commendable. Thank you, Saizen Tours, for making our trip a resounding success!

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Bayview College, VIC

Annabel Reeves - LOTE/HAAS Teacher - June 2023

I just wanted to email and say a huge thank you for all the work you did for our Japan trip. It was amazing – everything was well organised, the accommodation was excellent, and it all went very smoothly. Being the first time running a school trip in Japan, I was very nervous, but your thorough preparation and advice was invaluable. My students had a ball, and they have returned home wanting to go back again! So thank you 😊

Canterbury College, QLD

Helen Tani - Head of Global Studies Faculty - June 2023

When Japan reopened its borders and we announced our school trip, we had no idea how popular it would be. In the recent June holidays, we took 42 students (Years 9-12) and 7 teachers on a 2 week tour of Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka and Nara (no homestay). Thanks to Rondell and the Saizen Team, we had a Dream Tour!

The three hotels we stayed in were modern and quite luxurious for a school tour! Due to our group size and our reliance on public transport, Rondell booked hotels very close to major stations. This also gave us an array of eating options each night. Our hotel breakfasts were delicious and had so much variety. The rooms were spacious (by Japan standards) and two hotels had laundry facilities conveniently onsite.

Rondell was always available. While I have been to Japan many times, I had not travelled with that number which is where Rondell’s advice was so helpful. She was great to talk through proposals, as well as offering a multitude of new ideas and sharing the experiences of other groups she’d worked with. This was so important because high schools have to always consider ‘duty of care’ issues that other travel agents aren’t aware of. Even the support we received in-country was amazing with Rondell tracking down someone’s lost property within hours and then couriering it to the hotel. Service! Whether you’ve been to Japan many times or this is your first trip – I can’t speak highly enough of Saizen!

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Iona College, QLD

Brendan Merrotsy - Head of Languages - April 2023

After finally being able to travel again with our students after Covid, Saizen Tours were again the ultimate travel partner for our recent trip to Japan. With 44 students and 5 staff, the logistics and planning were always going to be a challenge, but Kellie & the team executed this flawlessly, anticipating our needs and going above and beyond to ensure our tour would run smoothly once in country.

With the travel restrictions around Covid to consider pre departure, Saizen were very detailed and explicit in their communication, that we were then able to confidently pass on to our parents to alleviate many of their questions and concerns around travel safety.

Once in Japan, our itinerary, internal transport options, meals and experiences were all meticulously organised and as a result our touring students were able to leave Japan with unforgettable memories, many of for which was their first overseas experience.

 

We have used Saizen tours for the past 20 years and with their attention to detail and superior in-country knowledge, coupled with their friendly & professional nature, we look forward to working with them again next year.

St John Paul College, NSW

Kirsten Binnie ~ Head of Languages ~ September 2019

Thank you Saizen! We had a wonderful tour of Japan. Saizen offered us some experiences we had never enjoyed before such as a farmstay in Miyama and a trip to the bamboo forest in Arashiyama. The farmstay was a fantastic opportunity for our students to see firsthand what life in the Japanese countryside is like. Not only did they get the chance to do farming, tie dying and traditional cooking but they also were able to further improve their Japanese conversational skills. Arashiyama was an amazing place and we all loved the natural spectacle as well as the history of the area. It was a trip that all of the students and teachers will never forget. 

Canterbury College, QLD

Sue Walduck ~ Japanese Language Teacher, Director of Staff ~ September 2019

Travelling to Japan with 19 students is onerous on teachers. While I attempt to be organised, it doesn’t always happen.  This year, for the first time, we tried something new with the group and did the Hozu River Boat cruise.  Rondell had told me all about it and it sounded like the perfect addition to our Japan Tour given that the year 11 students must study “Ecotourism” as  apart of the new units in the year 11 ATAR course.  After catching train lines I’d never been on before, walking about 1km to the boat departure docks and ensuring I hadn’t lost anyone, I was terrified to realise I didn’t have the correct prepaid coupon when at the registration desk.  We called Saizen and the matter was sorted immediately.  We boarded the boat without issue and Saizen spoke to the tour operator to ensure we travelled safely.  That evening, Saizen worked around the clock to send me photos of the coupons and help me to locate the documents.  Being in Japan with so many students can be stressful but when you know you have 24 hours a day support from your agent, you know that nothing is insurmountable.  Saizen never miss your calls when in Japan and their connections with local operators means that everything runs smoothly even if the teachers are first-timers.  I truly believe that the travel experience with any other company wouldn’t be as stress-free.

Derinya Primary School, VIC

Therese Sakamoto ~ Japanese Language Teacher ~ October 2018

Thank you SO much for your care and attention to all requests and details. Having the support of Saizen Tours was a huge weight off my shoulders in preparing for our trip and ensuring that everything went smoothly whilst in Japan. We loved receiving all the documents & other goodies in the box before our departure. The red string bags were handy จC we used them as overnight bags on our first night (and left our suitcases in overnight storage at the airport). We will definitely be asking for your help for our next study tour and will happily recommend you to others.

Malanda State High School, QLD

Inge Arnold ~ LOTE (Japanese), History/Geography Teacher ~ April 2018

Thank you Saizen for your assistance and guidance with organising our tour! The accommodation, rail pass, transport and activity bookings, and flights all went really smoothly. I especially appreciated having the extra eyes over our itinerary plans, Simone did a great job checking the train times were feasible, which saved stress changing trains at busy train stations with such a large group. The attention to detail with the Trip Booklet was fantastic.  

Canterbury College, QLD

Susan Walduck ~ Coordinator for Staff Development & LOTE Teacher ~ September 2017

Saizen Tours was able to source the perfect accommodation for us In Hiroshima.  We wanted to see the Peace Park early in the morning and they found us a ryokan where we only had to walk for 10 minutes and could comfortably see the crane displays, Sadako’s Statue, the Peace Bell and the Atomic Bomb Dome all before breakfast.  When facing an equally busy schedule upon arrival at Kyoto, Rondell gave us the name of a luggage transfer service so we could spend our sightseeing time with day packs rather than our large tour bags. This made travel easier and was cheaper than using the lockers.  Their knowledge ensured our trip ran smoothly.

LADA Family Group, QLD

Jane Laverty ~ Japanese Language Teacher ~ June 2017

Saizen Tours organised everything for our 19 person tour. We would not have been able to do as much if it was not for Simone and her team of dedicated and experienced staff.  Everything was planned and set out in such a way that I, as the tour guide, felt comfortable and completely at ease.  They are simply amazing!  All their planning lead to a hassle free two week tour of Japan. 

Jindabyne Central School, NSW

Anna Campbell ~ Japanese Language Teacher ~ April 2017

Thank you so much for all the work you put into organising out wonderful trip!

All the students had a very valuable experience and had a lot of fun. 

ANA flights were very smooth nothing was a miss and the staff were professional and friendly.

Accommodation was brilliantly located and convenient. 

The most valuable experience for the students was the opportunity to spend time with the university students in Hiroshima, I would love tho include this in every future school trip to Japan. A close second would be tea with the Geiko in Gion. 

All meals were absolutely delicious! Plenty of food and the student's particularly enjoyed the buffet in Osaka and the Hiroshimayaki in Okonomiyaki mura, Hiroshima. 

I will definitely continue to use Saizen in the future and recommend your company to other teachers.

Scarborough State School, QLD

Claire Klich ~ Teacher of Languages ~ April 2017

The little red tour book that Simone from Saizen Tours prepared for us was the most valuable piece of luggage we took with us. It included highlighted maps, suggested train timetables and platform numbers, suggested sightseeing spots and so much more. It was in our day pack or hands at all times and made our trip stress and hassle free. The accommodation was exactly what we were looking for - affordable, private and close to amenities. The highlights of our tour were the hike up Mt Misen from the top of the ropeway on Miyajima (pictured) and our private guided tour of Himeji Castle. Thank you Simone and Saizen!

Hunter Sports High School, NSW

Shanelle Ingram ~ Japanese Teacher ~ April 2017

Although I have taken many school trips to Japan in the past, this was the first school trip for students from Hunter Sports High and my first time to use Saizen Tours.  Rondell is amazing. Her planning and documentation was meticulous. She was always so helpful and supportive throughout the process.

My students had a wonderful time in Japan. They enjoyed the many planned activities with one of the highlights being the Maiko experience at Gion we booked through Rondell.

I highly recommend Saizen Tours, and we will definitely be using Saizen Tours next time we travel to Japan!

Balmoral State High School, QLD

Wes Sharman - Japanese Language Teacher - December 2016

We had a wonderful time. A massive experience for our kids, I just cannot replicate that in the classroom. There are alot more motivated kids from this experience. Thank you for all your help I am already cotemplating our next trip.

Ipswich State High School, QLD

Angela Owen - Japanese Language Teacher - September 2016

The tour you organised for us was a great success, thank you! 

 

The visit to Mt Koya was cited as the highlight of the trip by more than half the group. We were running a bit late and were met on arrival by our walking-tour guide. She was easy to get along with and was very informative and interesting, as she took us on a walk through the cemetery to the temple. We were fortunate to see the monks making their afternoon visit to the monk Kukai’s mausoleum, and join in with the meditation with the monks at the shukubo temple lodgings we stayed at. The food at the temple was amazing (I would say that, I’m vegetarian!) and an eye-opening (still enjoyable!) experience for some of our students.

 

The highlight, however, was definitely the class we participated in after dinner: bead making. The monk and our guide helped us in stringing and sanding the beads, and taught us what each bead represented. It was a highly personal, reflective and yet still fun activity, and at the end of it we had beautiful prayer beads to keep. We all wore our prayer beads for the remainder of the trip, and it was lovely to see students still wearing them to school in Term 4. 

 

Thank you for all the work you did in organising and supporting us on the trip, from all the Ipswich State High School participants.

St Philomena's School, NSW

Helen O'Neill - Japanese Language Teacher - September 2016

Our school has now been on 6 School excursions to Japan. 5 of these were booked through Rondell at Saizen Tours. The first trip I did I organised the whole thing myself. Since finding Saizen I would never go back to that and would not recommend it! Saizen Tours has been fabulous and I have never been able to fault them. I have travelled a lot in Japan and feel I know it very well; however, booking through Saizen took the stress out of the organising before the trip and the excursion itself. Rondell is always more than happy to chat to me about anything and is a wealth of information. I have learnt so much from her over the years and she is a pleasure to work with. The detail in the teachers/students books, fabulous student worksheets and all the other extras from Saizen  I could not have done without. It certainly helped every trip to run smoothly. Rondell also has some great ideas of places to visit off the beaten track. Every one of those places we have been to, I would love to revisit.  Thank you to the fabulous team at Saizen. 

Bundaberg Christian College, QLD

Deborah Nelson - Japanese Teacher - September 2016

We found Saizen Tours to be very helpful and knowledgeable regarding everything we needed to know about travelling in Japan. They helped us plan our trip right down to details and were quick to answer emails and get back to me on the phone and were always pleasant. They could give valuable advice about the pros and cons of various options. A pleasant surprise was the very helpful guide book and teachers worksheets that they put together to help me lead our group on my first school visit to Japan as a teacher. Our dinner on the first night at an airport Hotel and at Sweets of Ninja restaurants were very good. I certainly would recommend using Saizen Tours.

Whitsunday Anglican School, QLD

Renee Dettmann ~ English and Japanese Teacher ~ September 2016

Saizen - you've done it again! We had an absolutely amazing experience in meeting a Maiko-San in Kyoto today!!! This is the highlight of our trip so far! Thank you so much from Whitsunday Anglican School.

Helensvale State High School, QLD

Brett Middleton ~ Japanese Academy Director/Teacher ~ September 2016

Yet another fantastic school study tour this year, made all the more enjoyable thanks to the great work of Saizen Tours.  Bookings and reservations all handled smoothly and without error making my job that much easier.  We really enjoyed our accommodation at the Morikawa Ryokan in Tokyo and the Shin-Osaka Youth Hostel.  Thank you to Rondell and the team at Saizen for all of your efforts in making this year's trip a memorable one.

Ignatius Park College, QLD

Tracey Panebianco ~ Teacher-in-Charge Languages ~ September 2016

We had the trip of a lifetime! Highlights included the Sumo wrestling tournament, Kyoto bicycle tour and Utano Elementary school visit. The boys enjoyed embracing traditional Japanese culture in Kyoto and Hiroshima, as well as soaking up the fast-paced life in Tokyo and Osaka. The hostels we stayed in were comfortable, the staff were very helpful and the facilities were great.

Rondell at Saizen did an amazing job at organising our trip and it was reassuring to know I could call her at any time if I had a query. Thank you for the excellent advice and preparation.

Hillcrest Christian College, VIC

Victoria Poulos ~ Japanese Language Teacher ~ June 2016

We had a fabulous stress free trip away with our students, thanks to Kellie and Saizen Tours. They were so helpful at tailoring an itinerary specifically to suit us and I asked hundreds of questions which never seemed too much trouble to Kellie. I would recommend Saizen Tours to any group that wants a fabulous trip away without any hassles!

Sacred Heart College, Perth WA

David Meulman ~ Japanese Language Teacher ~ April 2016

The reason why I keep going back to Saizen Tours whenever I take student groups to Japan, is for their thorough and specific knowledge of Japan, something you can’t get with other travel agents. Simone accommodated all of our requests to tailor the trip to our specific needs and the very detailed, handy tips provided in our teacher’s booklet made the trip run very smoothly. Looking forward to our next trip!

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Blakeurst High School, Sydney NSW

Judy Smith ~ Head Teacher Teaching & Learning ~ April 2016

The trip was fantastic from start to finish.

The restaurants you booked in Kyoto were fantastic. The kids certainly did not leave hungry!

 

The Matsumoto homestay package was also wonderful. The kids loved the school visit and made lots of new friends. Teddy was very helpful and organised and passed on his regards. The Wasabi farm was so interesting and the home stays were fantastic. One of my students with minimal Japanese was very nervous about the homestay, with tears in her eyes as she headed off with her buddies. On the last morning after saying goodbye she said " I love my host mum". They had played games together, cooked and dressed up in yukata and generally had a great time. The fact that they were older was a bonus.

I must say we had the best food there and managed trips to the onsen in the evening too (checking first they were a Blakehurst student free zone)! The hotel was wonderful. We all loved Matsumoto. In fact I would say one extra night there with a free day to explore the town would be good next time.

Thanks again for all your wonderful advice and organization.

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Elanora State School, Gold Coast QLD

Karen & Ross Greenwood and Chris & Peter Stephenson ~ Elanora State School staff ~ April 2016

Not knowing the language and torn between taking the safe option of an organised tour vs independent travel, we decided to follow our instincts and let Saizen Tours organise our 3 1/2 week independent travel through Japan.  Simone expertly organised our Rail passes, Ryokans, Western Hotels, Sightseeing Ideas, Transfers, Timetables and Maps in a seemingly effortless manner.  The level of detail she provided before departure was above and beyond what we expected.  This took all of stress out of our holiday and every step of our journey was just as spectacular as she promised it would be.

 

Thanks Saizen tours for taking our ideas and turning them into a sensational reality.

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St Ursula's College, Yeppoon QLD

Emily Willis ~ Japanese Language Teacher ~ January 2016

In having our Japan trip in January, the weather was certainly a contrast to our tropical Queensland weather. By going in January, the students were more keen to try the public baths and onsen, frequented the konbini’s to try whatever warm food and drink they could lay their hands on and took advantage of Uniclo and their warm weather apparel.  Skiing was certainly a highlight with two days of ski lessons and time to just be crazy in the snow. Our trip to the snow was excellently organised with all ski hire gear waiting in our room when we arrived. It was a bonus to be able to ski to and from the hotel to the practice area which allowed the students to finish skiing when it suited them. Their snow experience has encouraged their desire to go skiing once more!

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Peel High School, Tamworth NSW

Tamar Gasson ~ Head Teacher Administration ~ September 2015

We have just returned from a fabulous trip to Japan exploring the sights of Sendai, Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima & Osaka. Some of the highlights were watching the Sumo championships in Tokyo, Disneyland, Universal Studios, Hiroshima Peace Park and  a Kindy visit in Sendai. The kids had a very unique and memorable experience in staying at Ekoin temple on Koyasan. It was a fair hike up to Koyasan but such an amazing and quiet experience that they will never forget. They were able to stay with Buddhist monks, have tours of the cemetery and participate in the meditation and fire rituals. The students particularly liked our day visiting a Japanese Kindergarten in Sendai and playing with the kids of various ages all day. The students were outstanding in trying all aspects of Japanese culture from eating Nato to bathing together each night. Another amazing experience that the students loved was the Momoji making experience on Miyajima, before we hiked up to the summit of Mt Misen! I would highly recommend using Saizen Tours for all or some parts of your trip organisation to ease the issues with bookings and paperwork which is ever increasing! Kellie did a fantastic job at organising our accommodation and some of our activities which made it much easier to prepare and check in, especially for a group booking. Thanks again for helping make such a memorable trip for our students :-)

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Mortlake College VIC

Danielle Blomeley ~ Japanese Language Teacher ~ March 2015

We had a wonderful trip and the students enjoyed all aspects of the tour.  We enjoyed the program in Kanazawa. The new Shinkansen made the trip a  breeze.  The highlight for the students was decorating the chopsticks with gold leaf.

I was very impressed with the materials and overall support provided by Saizen. The teacher handbook made it so easy to find places and especially to book rail tickets. Thank you so much for the work that went into compiling the book. Thank you also for the student worksheets. It was good to have something for the students to focus on whIle on tour.

Overall, we had a great trip and I will certainly be contacting you again when planning our next tour. I have no hesitation in recommending you and Saizen - I have travelled extensively as an individual and on educational tours and can honestly say that you provided the best service that I have ever encountered from a travel agent.

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Medowie Christian School, Port Stephens NSW

Katie Lavender ~ Japanese Language Teacher ~ December 2014

Thanks so much for organising the tour it was spectacular. The best trip ever. The snow was insane at Nozawa Onsen and the ski lodge was awesome. The restaurant "The Lockup" was so much fun. Kids loved it. Fuji-Q Highland was definitely a highlight too.

 

We will book the same ski trip again in 2 years!

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