When a tsunami struck the coast of Japan at the start of March the rest of the world could only watch as one of the country’s worst natural disasters began to unfold. Then, the news came of the damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant and it seemed things couldn’t get any worse for Japan.
Perhaps understandably, this devastating news put many people off travelling to Japan and with daily updates appearing in the world’s media, who could blame them?
But as the media hype dies down, so do many people’s worries, and slowly travellers are returning to this popular destination. Indeed it would seem that many Audley clients are not letting Japan’s recent issues deter them from travelling here. Our Japan Group Tour, which departs in October, is now fully booked.
One Audley client, Emlyn Jones, did not let Japan’s recent issues stop him from travelling to the country, and he visited in April 2011 along with his wife. He had this to say:
“My wife and myself visited Japan in April, spending 16 nights in various locations. We travelled to Japan 4 weeks after the Sendai tragedy. The decision to travel was difficult, not because of any imagined danger but just wondering what would be best for the Japanese people. The holiday truly was one of a “lifetime”.
The Japanese people were a pure delight to meet, the country is full of pleasurable surprises. Had we not known in advance that there had been a catastrophe we would never have guessed. All facilities and infrastructure were first class and the arrangements made by Audley Travel were seamless. A very happy time for us.”
Bob Robinson and Shirley Smith travelled to Japan with us in March and had this to say:
“We went skiing in Japan for two weeks at the beginning March then onto New Zealand to visit parents, returning on the 4th April for a further three weeks. The skiing conditions in March were perfect; fresh snow most nights and blue skies during the day. Most Japanese only ski in January and February and then go back to work in March. The hotels were fairly quiet and the restaurants most welcoming. Despite all the ongoing problems at the time everything still worked like clockwork.
We flew back to Tokyo for our second visit to “chase the cherry blossom” as it opened across the countryside. Audley’s itinerary took in the principal sights from Tokyo westward to Kanazawa, via the Kiso Valley, various castles onto Kyoto and finally to finish off the holiday a few days on Miyajima Island. It was simply wonderful. Although we met only a handful of Europeans, the Japanese were so friendly, accommodating and genuinely pleased to see us. The ryokan and hotels went out of their way to be as helpful as possible and the restaurants greeted us like long-lost friends and provided the most amazing delicacies.
Having travelled most of the world, we would rate this as one of the most memorable, relaxing and fascinating holidays; we cannot recommend Japan enough.”
Of course, Japan’s north is still experiencing some difficulties but the reality is very few tourists would normally visit this area anyway. The situation outside of these specific areas has largely returned to normal and most visits are trouble-free. The FCO is currently advising against all but essential travel to those areas in northeast Japan most affected by the 11th March earthquake and tsunami. The website also states that “although the situation at Fukushima will remain of concern for some time, the risks are gradually declining as facilities to stabilise the reactors are established.”