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The allure of Japan

 Safety, reliability and quality are among the topmost considerations I have for choosing Japan as my premier travel destination in Asia, and I would surmise, the same goes for most Filipinos nowadays, especially with the Japanese yen at an all-time low, making it even cheaper to visit now.

Hong Kong, which in the past was the destination of choice for Filipinos, has somehow lost its appeal since COVID-19 and as the cost of visiting the former British colony has risen. In fact, recent news is that the Chinese government is planning to increase its departure security fee which would surely be another turn off for visitors.

Even the allure of luxury shopping in Hong Kong has faded, with Japan now attracting even more Chinese nationals to do their high-end purchases from their island neighbor. I saw Chinese buyers eagerly lining up to buy the latest models from Louis Vuitton and Hermes.

It was quite clear during my visit that while Chinese tourists have not come back in droves, a lot of them – families mostly, are traveling to Japan. It was apparent that mainland Chinese tourists are becoming more adept at traveling on their own without having to rely on package tours.

Indeed, with the still cool May weather, visitors from all nationalities are congregating in Japan. In my hotel alone, there was a constant stream of visitors from Australia, Britain, Korea and India, but surprisingly few Filipinos this time around. Perhaps Tokyo holds more allure for Filipinos than Osaka.

In Osaka, where we chose to vacation this time around, a variety of tourists have learned to opt for a visit to the Kuromon market to get their fill of the bountiful and fresh Japanese seafood and famous wagyu and Kobe beef, and with the very favorable exchange rate of a depreciated yen, indulging in these delicacies was a steal.

A word of advice though, while the Kuromon market may offer an opportunity to sample oysters, king crab, abalone and other delicacies, bear in mind though that the market only offers basic grilling that oftentimes does not really enhance the flavor of the said delicacies and that to enjoy the best wagyu, Kobe beef or eel, one should still go to reputable restaurants to