Access: getting there
Visits to Kansai’s worlds can be made more interesting, affordable and rewarding by researching the options before leaving home.
It only takes a visit to the local library or the internet to spot the wide range of interests people can pursue in Kansai.
The Japan National Tourism Organsation website (name it and show it on screen) tells about services in most price ranges.
Air New Zealand, its travelcentres and website reduce costs for group travel – which secondary school students in particular use. Their travel consultants can also point intending travelers to other information sources.
Embassy of Japan staff in Wellington and Auckland help many groups visit Japan – and some of the two thousand graduate Kiwis they have sent on the JET programme over the last twenty years may live near you and be able to share their cultural understanding. People such as Amber Walters, who taught Aiko Mizuno in Minoh City, helps international students as part of her job at Victoria University of Wellington.
More than half New Zealand’s towns and cities have sister city links in Japan. When students from Wellington went on exchange visits to schools in Kansai’s Sakai City they got help from members of the staff of Sakai City government. Takeaki Shibuya, a Japanese married to a Kiwi, and Rebecca Hillis, an Aucklander on the JET Programme working for Sakai as a coordinator of international relations, were amongst their welcoming party. Jonathan Skinner, a teacher of Japanese language at Newlands College and other teachers who had visited Japan before, helped smooth the way for young people and their families for whom Japan was a place where much was unknown.
So don’t be put off by the impression that Japan is unaffordable, hidden in an oriental fog, and remote.
About thirty thousand Kiwis a year from education, business, sport and other walks of life visit Japan.
The places, cultures, governments and economic worlds of Kansai are accessible for Kiwis – and more accessible for those who prepare themselves with introductions.
Student exchange provides an introduction that opens up new worlds they can return to as their lives unfold. Many New Zealand schools now teach Japanese language.
A good number of these schools organise regular exchanges with sister schools in Japan. There are also some students who travel on independent scholarships.
There are a few practical things you need to learn – and these may change over time. Accommodation is a basic. The Japan National Tourism Organisation website is a good place to start. We found several situations where one room for one day cost 8500 yen – one was near a railway station close to a Ritsumeikan campus, another was in a restored old house in the mountains.
Another challenge is the use of your credit card –
don’t expect to be able to get money from all Japanese automatic
teller machines. But do be optimistic you can draw out cash from a Japanese
Post office ATM!
The stories in Kansai through Kiwi eyes can be repeated by other New Zealanders – give it a go!
From Anthony Haas. Asia Pacific Economic News service
18 March 2007
A DecisionMaker publication
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