22 Mar

Golfing in Japan?

Japan is a fascinating country, with a culture that is very different from our own, albeit on one level is similar to ours. They are a people who value respect, order and hierarchy. They are friendly and we always felt welcomed and able to communicate despite my lack of Japanese. We were treated to a vast array of great food and the hotels were comfortable and similar to hotels around the world, unless you opt for a Japanese room of course, then you will be sleeping on a futon! The golf clubs we visited were very good, all having large facilities and all having an Onsen, a public bath area for relaxing and showering after your round to ease any aches and pains that may have developed around the course. We landed in Osaka and drove to Kobe, around the bay from Osaka and just 90 minutes from the airport. The Kobe area was the first place in Japan to open a golf course, and now it boasts 165, making it an ideal base to visit some of the courses. Carts are supplied on most courses - the big surprise here was that they are automated - they run only on the paths alongside the holes remotely, but sit all four of us - five if the course supplies a caddie. See my video of the cart driving along without anyone in it on our Facebook page! Also I have a Japan Photo Album on our Facebook page if you would like to see a few pics. It took a while to get used to the winter conditioned grass- the new grass was a few weeks away from coming through. We also didn't realise initially that the greens (which were all in excellent condition, fast and hard to read) and the tee boxes were sprayed green to look the part! From Kobe we moved north, stopping in Yokkaichi City and then onto Tsu, Shima, Toba & Shiga, all the while inspecting courses and or playing golf as we went. A quick half day sightseeing tour around Kyoto was had before we jumped onto a bullet train which took us up towards Tokyo, stopping by the sea at Atami, where we made our way to Kawana. The Kawana Fuji golf course is the number one public course in Japan and we had a stunning day playing it - the weather was warm & sunny, Mt Fuji was cloudless - viewable from the 11th fairway - and the course spectacular. Onto Tokyo and we stayed right in the centre of the city, quite a contrast to some of the more rural towns & cities we had been in previously! We found getting around on the trains in Tokyo easier than the rumours suggested. The trains are frequent and English is spoken over the tannoy, as well as English information given by the ticket machines. I strongly recommend Japan as a 'must see' place to visit and play golf. Japan is hosting the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics over the next two years putting the destination on the world stage. We will have a tour up on the website in around a month's time for a 2020 visit.