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Golden opportunities


A giant statue at Hakone' open air museum

If procrastination is your game, then Golden Week travel may not be for you. The "Golden" rule it seems is early booking-that goes for all kinds of tickets. With international airfares sure to set you back a few pounds of bullion and domestic reservations as hard to find as genuine nuggets, dreams of far-flung holidays may just be fool's gold. If tickets have eluded you, don't despair: here are some day trips to add sparkle to your spring vacation. Matt Wilce

Where the wild things are
If you can't make it to Africa this Golden Week, try going on safari in Shizuoka - nestled beneath Fuji-san are not only lions, tigers and bears, but elephants, zebras and camels. At Fuji Safari Park you can either drive yourself around the park or hop on one of the buses provided. With several different zones, there are plenty of beastly attractions that range from petting a spider monkey and photographing a baby lion to dodging the big game roaming free. Night Safaris run after the park closes - the adventurous meet at the reception area at 5pm and head out armed with nightscopes rather than rifles.
2255-27 Suyama Aza Fujiwara, Susono-shi, Shizuoka-ken (Tel: 0559-98-1311)
Open 7am-5pm during Golden Week (regularly 9am-5pm), entry JY2700
Access: Take JR Tokaido line Kodama-go Shinkansen to Mishima (1hr) (JY2210), from Mishima stn take the Fuji Kanko Bus bound for Nihon Land NOW, which stops at the safari park. Reservations for shiteiseki (reserved) seats for the shinkansen are highly recommended
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Pick it
Enjoy the great outdoors with a day's fruit picking in Chiba. Mother Farm has 250 hectares of pasture, forest and orchard to explore, and in addition to the friendly livestock and horseback riding, you can take home some delicious omiyage (gifts). During Golden Week you can pick strawberries, tomatoes and poppies. Tateyama Tourism Association also offers an organized flower and strawberry picking tour of the Boso Peninsula. Starting from Tateyams stn, the tour includes two stops for flower picking, lunch and all the strawberries you can eat at the Ichigo Gari center.
Mother Farm, 940-3 Tagura, Futtsu, Chiba (Tel: 0439-37-3211) www.motherfarm.co.jp/home_e.html Poppy picking 10am-3pm at Vegetable Garden, ten pieces JY200, tomato picking 10am-3pm at Orchard Farm 1kg JY600, strawberry picking Sun, 5/6 (all you can eat) for the first 300 arrivals from 9am at Vegetable Garden JY800.
The Poppy and Strawberry Sightseeing Bus departs Tateyama stn 10am and returns 3:40pm. JY4300 (children JY3700). Tateyama Tourism Association (Tel: 0470-22-2531).


Fog Forest
Tucked away at the far end of the Show Memorial Park is a surreal world of mist and sculpture. A collaboration between designers Atsushi Kitagawara and Fujiko Nakaya, the bizarre landscape they've created is a range of grassy hillocks dissected by a network of paths. Mist spills out of vents and sculptures curling through the mounds and tracks and over entranced visitors. The rest of the park offers plenty of space for strolling and cycling (JY310 for three hours bike rental) as well as a traditional Japanese garden and lake with rowboats.
Showa Memorial Park,
Midori-cho, Tachikawa-shi (Tel: 0425-28-1751), nearest stn Tachikawa, admission JY390.


Sculpture and spa
Spring is the perfect time to head for the hills and wander among the sculptures at the Hakone Open Air Museum, which showcases the work of artists such as Rodin, Henry Moore and Nobuo Sekine. Explore the extensive grounds and take a peak at the Picasso gallery while you enjoy the mountain air.

Backtracking to Hakone Yumototo stn, it's only a short hop on the bus to Unyu Tenzan onsen. The traditional wooden building houses a variety of outdoor baths in natural surroundings and has been operating since the 17th century. Relax in the leafy surroundings and soak away stress.
Hakone Open Air Museum, 1121 Ninotaira, Hakone-machi (Tel: 0460-2-1161). Open 9am-5pm, entry JY1600. www.hakone-oam.or.jp  
Unyu Tenzan Onsen, Yumoto Chaya 208, Hakone (Tel: 0460-6-4126) Open 9am-11pm, entry JY900.


Hey batter! Batter!

Golden balls
Take advantage of the holidays to score tickets to some top sporting events - here are our tips for some of Golden Week's best events. Just make sure to call early for reservations.

Baseball
Yakult vs Hanshin
Apr 28 Jingu Stadium 6:20pm
Family ticket JY7600 (2 adult, 2 kids), regular tickets JY3900, JY3100.
Ticket reservations available thru Ticket Pia (Tel: 03-5237-9999)

J-League
FC Tokyo vs JEF United
Apr 29 Tokyo Stadium 6:30pm
Tickets from JY4000, Tel: 3635-1101

Tokyo Verdy vs Yokohama F Marinos
May 3 Tokyo Stadium 4pm
Tickets from JY3500; reservations available thru Ticket Pia (Tel: 03-5237-9999)

Tennis
Fed Cup World Group 1 Japan vs Argentina
Apr 28 Colosseum
Tickets from JY3000, Japan Tennis Association (Tel: 03-3481-2321)

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