This summer, the world will be travelling to Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. Most travellers will hit up the traditional tourist route – Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka – but those looking to get off the beaten path should head up north to the Tohoku region.
Good thing All Nippon Airways (ANA) will be offering cheap tickets at the symbolic price of just ¥2,020 for 18 domestic flights flying to and from Aomori, Odate Noshiro (in northern Akita), Akita, Shonai (in Yamagata), Sendai and Fukushima from July to September 2020. These flights are centred around Tohoku because ANA is hoping the campaign will raise awareness and improve reconstruction efforts in the areas affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The Tohoku region is famous for pastoral landscapes, hot springs as well as its lively traditional matsuri, or summer festivals. The biggest festivals, the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, Akita Kanto Matsuri and the Sendai Tanabata Matsuri, are held in August, the same time as the flight promotion. Northern Japan also provides a respite from Tokyo's notoriously humid summer weather.
Unlike Japan Airline's summer 2020 campaign, where JAL members enter a lottery to win free domestic flight tickets, this ANA campaign is a sale, meaning anyone can nab these cheap tickets. The ANA tickets are discounted by 60 to 80 percent from the regular fare and they are significantly cheaper than the bullet train, which starts from ¥11,000 one-way.
Reservations will start in spring.
If you're planning on staying in Tokyo during the Games, save some yen with our cheap Tokyo guide. Coming to Tokyo or Japan earlier for the cherry blossoms instead? Here's the sakura forecast this year.