With the end of the year just around the corner, taxpayers around Japan are filing their annual contributions to furusato nozei which is the name given to Japan’s hometown tax program. Many usually opt for seasonal produce hard to find in their cities or craft goods to decorate their homes, but did you know you can also use your donations to plan your next trip?
In a collaboration with Japan Travel Bureau (JTB), Furusato Choice, one of the top websites to enroll in the program, now offers taxpayers a chance to book everything from luxurious stays at renowned ryokan to sightseeing train tickets.
In the spirit of hopefully traveling more in 2022, we’ve scoured the Furusato Choice website for the best destinations to inspire you to contribute to the revitalization of the Japanese countryside – and maybe even pop by for a quick visit.
1. Take a camping trip in the woods of Furano, Hokkaido
Hokkaido Prefecture is known for its nature, so camping is the best way to experience the wilds of the northernmost region of Japan. This package includes a small getaway in the forests of Furano. The two-day trip includes trailer camping, onsen bathing, river fishing and grilling, all with the guide of two locals with enviable vigor and passion for the outdoors.
2. Reconnect with nature through a guided tour in Hida, Gifu
Gifu Prefecture is often forgotten when planning a trip to the Chubu region of Japan, but it has tons of activities to suit travelers. This guided tour of Hida, a rural city located in northern Gifu, has everything from hiking through the Ikegahara Marsh to tasting local delicacies, all accompanied by helpful and friendly guides. Travelers with dietary restrictions are welcome, though they are asked to notify the guides ahead of the trip.
3. Ride the Rokumon sightseeing train in Tomi, Nagano
Sightseeing trains are a great mode of transport for traversing rural Japan if a long car ride isn’t your jam. Some trains are themed, and others, like the Rokumon train in Tomi City, Nagano Prefecture, also offer some food services to make your ride as comfortable as possible. This package includes two tickets for the Rokumon sightseeing train, one meal plan for two and a set of red and white wines to sip on while you take in the natural landscapes whooshing past the window.
4. Book a stay at Obanai Ryokan in onsen town Kintaichi, Iwate
If the trip you’ve been wanting to go on is a relaxing one, consider treating yourself to a dip in the hot springs of Tohoku. Avoid the crowds by heading to less-traveled cities such as Kintaichi, Iwate Prefecture. Kintaichi has access to warm, mineral-rich spring waters. This package offers a stay for two at Obanai Ryokan, known for its rotenburo (outdoor baths), which includes breakfast and dinner.
5. Immerse yourself in rural life with a stay in Aridagawa-cho, Wakayama
If you’re looking for something more traditional, however, try out this package that offers an exclusive stay at Guesthouse Moraimon, a private property in Aridagawa-cho, Wakayama Prefecture, surrounded by an orchard of tangerine trees. This is great for city dwellers that are looking to sample a taste of life in rural Japan. Booking through Furusato Choice, you’ll also receive a coupon for a delicious dinner featuring shabu-shabu, sashimi and local craft beer.
6. Go glamping under the stars in Taketa, Oita
Glamping remains one of the most popular activities for families and couples looking to spend some valuable time together and is a particularly good travel option during the pandemic. This package includes a stay at the Kuju Hanakoen Camping Resort in Taketa City, Oita Prefecture. Each tent comes with everything you might need to spend a night under the stars. In the spring and summer, the gardens around the site bloom with colorful flowers.
7. Embark on a cycling tour of Taki-cho, Mie
For active travelers, opt for a cycling tour. This one is set in Taki-cho, Mie Prefecture and takes you on a culinary journey to discover the produce of the region. Start your trip by picking your favorite vegetables and head to a sukiyaki restaurant to savor it all alongside premium Matsusaka beef. More stops along the way include local cafés and gorgeous views of the area.
So, where will you go in 2022?
The deadline for applying for tax deduction, in this fiscal year, is December 31, 2021. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of each experience before donating. Most offers can be booked later in 2022 for those who might still be uneasy with traveling. Exclusive JTB travel vouchers can be used anytime within the next two years.