• Rathdowney, Australia

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Regarding the May 30 article “Tourism looks for a boost“: My wife and I have a long association with Japan, having hosted home-stay students and teachers in our home for many years. Our son has attended high school and university in Japan, but we had never been there. In 2008 we decided that our time had come to travel to Japan and did the usual thing by looking at travel agents for tours.

What we found was that most tours centered on major cities — not what we really wanted. We wanted to get off the beaten track and experience rural Japan. We had the good fortune to find a Brisbane, Australia-based tour company that offered just that. Armed with a 21-day rail pass, we crisscrossed the length and breadth of Honshu and Kyushu, even dipping our toes in Shikoku, staying at Takamatsu.

We really enjoyed meeting people in the countryside. Each time we traveled on a train in a rural area we were met with kind, inquisitive people who were very helpful. Although we did stay in Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima, one of the places we enjoyed the most was the small town of Namerikawa, near Toyama. Our trip in 2008 was supposed to be one in a lifetime, but we felt so safe and welcome wherever we went that we are now eagerly awaiting another off-the-beaten track adventure in 2010.

Rural Japan has so much to offer tourists. Tour companies should offer these types of packages. I think they would be pleasantly surprised by the response from foreign tourists.

wayne johnston

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